Bat-fans, I have a new favourite animated Batman film. I loved The Long Halloween, Part One. Course I also loved the original graphic novel that it’s based on.
Spreading the story over two parts, much like Warner Brothers Animation did with The Dark Knight Returns gives the characters, and the story room to breathe and consequently brings Batman’s world to vivid and vibrant life.
This time around Jensen Ackles downs cape and cowl to lend his voice to the dual role of Bruce Wayne and the Caped Crusader.
The Falcone family seems to be the beating criminal heart of Gotham, and they seem to be intent on wiping their competitors, including the Maroni family completely off the map. But someone else is out there, upping the stakes for everyone, but killing criminals on holidays, beginning with Halloween.
Who could be responsible? One of Batman’s Rogues’ Gallery? Most of them appear to be locked up in Arkham including the Joker (Troy Baker – channelling his best version of Mark Hamill), or are they? The new District Attorney, Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel) who is working with Gordon (Billy Burke) and Batman to bring as many criminals to justice as he can? Or is it someone Batman doesn’t even suspect?
We get layers to a number of characters throughout this part of the story, Bruce realizes he will have to develop his brain as well as his brawn, as his job becomes as much about being a detective as it is about frightening the criminal element. There’s a nice depth to his relationship with Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Naya Rivera) that plays very well emotionally. And there is a nice interpretation of some other familiar characters seen in new ways that fill out this incarnation of Gotham city, which like the beloved animated series seems to be a combination of the 1940s, really leaning into the noir feeling, and the modern with all of its technical conveniences.
The story takes its time and builds its beats and its characters. It doesn’t rush, and it gives each of them a chance in the spotlight. It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, with one major kill taking place on New Year’s Day which removes one of the suspects from the board when they end up dead, and Batman, and the viewers are left to puzzle over who could be responsible.
Honestly, I don’t remember who the villain ends up being, but I love how Harvey is being set up to become Two-Face, there are a few moments throughout the story when you can see things that will come into play for the character, and it’s interesting to see that this is how they came to be.
And like all comic book movies, there’s a post-credit scene which sets up even more trouble for Batman when another familiar face shows up.
I love the story, the animation style, and the depth we’re seeing to the film’s events and characters in this one. Definitely my favourite of what I’ve watched so far.
Can’t wait to see how part two plays out.