REVIEW: Batman: The Long Halloween Part 2
The acclaimed maxiseries from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale was wisely produced as two animated feature films. Batman: The Long Halloween Part 1 was a real treat, one of the best productions from Warner Animation in quite some time. As a result, expectations were high for a satisfying Batman: The Long Halloween Part 2, out on disc tomorrow. Unfortunately, it proved to be very much a letdown.
In part one, we have a Batman (Jensen Ackles) still in the early portion of his career, learning to think and be a detective as he worked with Commissioner Gordon (Billy Burke) and DA Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel) to find the Holiday Killer, who used celebrations to mask a series of murders. The Caped Crusader was aided by Catwoman (Naya Rivera), who was more sidekick and romantic interest than foil. The murders exacerbated the rivalry between Carmine “The Roman” Falcone (Titus Welliver) and Sal Maroni (Jim Pirri), the top two crime bosses in Gotham City, recognizing their time was rapidly fading with the arrival of the colorful crazies that followed in Batman’s wake.
Part two picks up immediately with Falcone’s son Alberto dead and Holiday still on the loose. However, Batman has been absent for nearly three months and oddly, Bruce Wayne has been deeding over properties to Falcone. We learn this a result of Poison Ivy (Katee Sackhoff) and it finally takes Catwoman to free him only for Batman to almost immediately succumb to the Scarecrow’s (Robin Atkin Downes) fear gas so she has to save him again.
The biggest problem in Part Two is that Catwoman is more the proactive hero than the title character. Batman is reactive throughout until the final quarter and it undercuts his mystique.
Also, Part One did a nice job contrasting the marriages between the Gordons and the Dents and that’s all missing here. Instead, the focus is on one criminal after another interfering in the investigation, ultimately teaming up for mayhem but not with a lot of logic. Along the way, Dent is scared and has a mental break making him Two-Face, which becomes important as events progress.
The Falcone family could have benefitted from some more depth, especially as Sofia (Laila Berzins), The Roman’s daughter, comes on the scene to lend a hand.
It’s a lot less interesting and complex than Part One and therefore, ultimately disappointing. Tim Sheridan’s script started off so well but suffers here. Visually, Sale’s distinctive design work is once again largely absent except for the title sequence.
The movie is out in a Blu-ray/Digital HD code combo pack with a 4K Ultra HD to follow. Overall, the 1080p presentation is perfectly satisfactory for the limited animation. The shadows and somber color palette work just fine. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio is equally solid.
The supplemental features are lackluster, with the exception of the brilliant DC Showcase: The Blue Beetle (15:30). Designed to be a 1960s-style animated adaptation of the Charlton Action Heroes, this Jeremey Adams-written short is a sheer delight as Beetle (Matt Lanter) and The Question (David Kaye) investigate a crime, leading them to their old foe, Dr. Spectro (Tom Kenny), who has Captain Atom (Jeff Bennett) and Nightshade (Ashly Burch) in his thrall. The only other new piece is the obligatory A Sneak Peek of Injustice (7:48), adapting the video game and comic series. The disc is rounded out with From the Vault – Batman: The Animated Series: “Two-Face – Part One” (22:27) and “Two-Face – Part Two” (22:30)