Just in time for Halloween, Warner Bros. has re-released last year’s two-part Batman: The Long Halloween as a single mammoth film that runs for nearly three hours. It’s an adaptation of the highly popular and acclaimed 1996/97 comic book run, which was a great source of inspiration for Matt Reeves’ live-action film The Batman from earlier this year. The Long Halloween harkens back to the earlier days of Detective Comics with its storyline.
The story is about Batman having to team up with Commissioner Gordan and District Attorney Harvey Dent, who are the best out of the bad bunch that make up the lawmen of Gotham City. They plan to take down Carmine Falconie, but a serial killer is on the loose in Gotham, whichcomplicates matters. The murders are holiday-based, so the perpetrator is quickly dubbed The Holiday Killer.
As the story progresses, Batman’s rogues gallery of villains (the finest in comic-book history) start popping up, and eventually form a united front to take over Gotham. The stakes just go up and up, until they reach the boiling point. It’s a really unique Batman story that probably is a little sprawling for even this two-part animated movie.
I don’t know the graphic novel it’s based on, so can’t really compare the two. Going by The Dark Knight Returns two-parter and other reviews, it seems fairly faithful to the source material. Shamefully, The Long Halloween is probably the most notable Batman graphic novel I haven’t read,and I even own the damn thing! Given how much it seems that Matt Reeves is drawing on it for his live-action films, I should rectify that soon rather than later.
The film’s animation is generally very strong, and Gotham has that art-deco meets ’50s noir aesthetic that Tim Burton’s films and Batman: The Animated Series utilised so well. I would’ve preferred a slightly darker palette. I would actually love to see one of these animated Batman films inhigh-contrast black and white—call it Batman Noir or Batman After Dark or something, it would be great. The Long Halloween‘s colour is occasionally a little garish between really refined animation and more generic backdrops, but I could say that about most DC animated features.
The voice work is strong across the board: Jensen Ackles of Supernatural fame voices Bruce Wayne/Batman and does a really solid jo, although he has more Batman than Bruce to do here. Troy Baker, who has also done Batman in some animated projects, contributes a very Mark Hamill-infused Joker, but for the story that’s required. The surprise is Josh Duhamel as Harvey Dent/Two-Face. He is an actor who I don’t think much of, but he really gets the bubbling inner conflict of the character with his performance, so maybe voice work is real calling. Naya Rivera, whose work I didn’t know at all (it’s safe to say I’m not the target demographic for Glee), nails an effective take on Catwoman. That is no hard task because it’s been done so well on film and in animation, but she has the right sexual chemistry with Bats, as all the best portrayals have. Sadly, it would be her final work due to a tragic drowning incident that took her life after she saved her son.
Batman: The Long Halloween is not the best DC animated film by any stretch, but it’s rock-solid. It’s story that owes a fair bit to The Godfather, but if you are gonna take, you couldn’t pick a better place to grab from. Fans of these animated films should definitely pick up this release, especially if they missed out on the separate halves released last year. The fact that I didn’t know the graphic novel may have slightly diminished my enjoyment of the film, but hey, it’s Batman in an old-school detective mode—what’s not to like?
The disc includes a new featurette that is mostly about the source graphic novel, and four episodes from Batman: The Animated Series, which is probably still the best animation depiction of the caped crusader. The disc is rounded off with some extended previews for other animated Batman features.