Blu-Ray Review – Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders

This animated film is throwback to the 1966 Batman series, which ran for two years with a total of 120 episodes. The film includes the voices of Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar reprising their roles as Batman, Robin, and Catwoman, respectively. It comes at a time of renewed interest in the ‘60s Batman TV show: Warner Brothers/DC has recently made a lot of Batman merchandise from the period available, and Kevin Smith has written a Batman ’66 comic book.

The animated film faithfully reimagines the series, with all the “Bing! Pow!” special effects that were a staple of the original. The plot is a pretty typical Batman scenario, with the Penguin, the Joker, the Riddler and Catwoman in cahoots to take over Gotham City. Batman and Robin come to the rescue, with Catwoman as the femme fatale. It’s completely ludicrous, of course—they end up going to outer space and back, and at one point Batman is brainwashed—but that’s perfectly fitting. Even Vincent Price’s iconic Egghead character has a cameo role.

There has been a long run of DC animated feature-length films, including The Killing Joke and The Dark Knight Returns. These tend to be slightly more mature than your standard animated film. Batman and Robin: Return of the Caped Crusaders builds on the very campy nature of the original show, with plenty of innuendoes about Batman and Robin’s relationship (they’re always “off fishing” at 11 p.m.). It’s not as colourful as the show, but mixes darker animation styles with the characters added, with some obvious visual homages to the primary-hued original. Sadly, the Batman theme has been slightly reworked, which I think is a bit of a mistake.

The voice acting is pretty good, not surprising as Adam West has returned as an active voice actor in recent years. Julie Newmar should have had more scenes, but perhaps there were time constraints. All the voice actors covering the roles of the departed veteran actors who originally played the super villains do a great job.

Obviously, it’s a nice return to the arguably most iconic representation of the Caped Crusader on the screen—so much so that a sequel has already been commissioned, with William Shatner playing Two-Face. The disc includes two short making of features which total 10 minutes each. The rest of the features are trailers for other deleted DC films and there is a limited edition with some groovy artcards.

★★★½

Ian Schultz

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