Blu-Ray Review – Batman Vs. Two-Face

Batman vs Two-Face is a recent animated feature that features Adam West’s final role and his last performance at Batman. He was for many generations the ultimate Batman, so it’s great to hear him as the voice of the Caped Crusader. What’s smart is that they chose a character who was never used in the original series, which ran for just over two years with 120 episodes. Towards the end of the initial run Two-Face was a new addition to the rogue’s gallery, and was almost played by Clint Eastwood, who was then a known TV actor but not quite the superstar that he would soon become, since the Dollar trilogy hadn’t even come out in the US yet. The plan ended with Batman’s cancellation—leaving Two-Face available for this film as a new villain, and this time he is voiced by another ‘60s television icon, William Shatner. The original Two-Face treatment for the series was written by Harlan Ellison—but that’s not the script used here.

Shatner and West had worked together once before, on a pilot for an unsold Alexander the Great TV series—and of course they must know each other from the convention circuit. West didn’t have an easy time in Hollywood from the late 80s through the 90s, but Family Guy helped him find a comeback trail as a voice artist. Shatner has had his career struggles as well. It’s an inspired bit of casting, with these two names joined by Julie Newmar as Catwoman, Lee Meriweather in a small role, and other standard voice actors, including Jeff Bergman, who voices most of the Looney Tunes characters.

It’s a very silly sort of origin story for Two-Face/Harvey Dent, who is Bruce Wayne’s best friend. He gets poisoned by a mad scientist after he uses an ‘evil extractor’ on the city’s villains as a treatment which explodes onto Harvey who becomes Two-Face. Dent seems cured after his initial spree of crime but… of course Two-Face will be back, with a master plan to destroy Gotham City! It’s a fun and enjoyable addition to the canon with solid animation and plenty of campy humour, as you would expect. Cameos abound from the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, Mr Freeze, and my favourite, Egghead, the role originally created for Vincent Price.

It’s an enjoyable tribute to Adam West, with one of Shatner’s best performances in quite a while. The animation takes plenty of visual cues from the original show, including psychedelic colours and pop-up dialogue balloons (POW!), mixed with the standard DC Comics animation look.

There are some special features with the release as well, including the San Diego Comic Con “Tribute to Adam West” panel, which includes Kevin Smith, Ralph Garman (who has the most impressive collection of 66 Batman merch in the world), Lee Meriweather and others. It’s a good companion to the big Batman boxset that came out a few years back, so fans of the original show will really want to pick this up.

★★★★

Ian Schultz

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