REVIEW: 'Batman- The Long Halloween'
Voice Cast: Jensen Ackles, Naya Rivera, Josh Duhamel, Billy Burke, Titus Welliver, Troy Baker and Jack Quaid
Director: Chris Palmer
Date of Release: June 22th 2021 (Part 1), July 27th , 2021 (Part 2)
Plot: Batman teams up with James Gordon and recently appointed D.A Harvey Dent, to hunt for a serial killer who executes his victims on special holidays, beginning with Halloween.
The two part animated film is an adaptation of the 1996/1997 graphic novel of the same name, written by Jeph Loeb, with Tim Sale as graphic artist. Set during the early days of the Dark Knight's fight against crime in Gotham City, it's regarded as a follow up of Batman: Year One, whose original source material came out in 1987. Both story arcs trace Batman's tragic origin story and the shift from dealing with common criminals and gangsters to the super villains, but the latter exploring the origin story of Two-Face.
The graphic novel is an intriguing murder mystery as Batman, James Gordon (now Captain) and the new district attorney, Harvey Dent, hunt for a serial killer who carries out his murders on holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day and so on... even April's Fools Day. The trio also had the task of ending gangster Carmine Falcone's (a.k.a The Roman) hold on Gotham. The killer's (dubbed 'The Holiday Killer') choice of targets are curiously linked to the Roman and afterwards, his rival, the Maroni family.
What to say about the adaptation Batman fans have been waiting on for several years?
First off, Jensen Ackles had a very good turn as the voice of Batman/Bruce Wayne, a close second to longstanding fan favourite, Kevin Conroy, who last voiced Batman in Justice League vs. the Fatal Five. The same goes to Troy Baker, who voiced the Joker; though Mark Hamill still has the edge over him, especially when it comes to the Joker's nasty laugh. And the late Naya Rivera (rest in peace) gave a good voice performance as the Cat woman, and it's a real pity she won't voice her again.
The animation was perfect, it went with the story's dark tone and was realistic without being too CGI, and the action sequences were outstanding. But... the story itself?
The Long Halloween started very well; the killings begin and Batman, Gordon and Dent make a pact to bend but not break the law while they hunt for the 'Holiday Killer' and take down The Roman, Carmine Falcone. We see the three men trying to balance their work and their personal lives, with difficulty and Batman's battle with the Joker, who is determined not to be replaced as Gotham's resident psycho and the climax, where the killer is apparently revealed, then abruptly killed off.
Part Two, we see as Harvey Dent- a DC character known for his obsession with duality- slowly descend into madness before the memorable court room scene, thus becoming Harvey Two Face; the reveal of his damaged face sending a chill up our spines. The rest of the film shows more violence than Part One, several well known super villains making their cameos, and a heart rending suicide scene- hence its R rating. And Cat Woman's story arc that linked her to the Roman, began slowly, then became rushed before its abrupt end.
The truth comes out at last but the killer's motive was completed changed, which is disappointing and made the reveal anti climatic. Maybe not everyone has read the source material, but those who have would probably watch it in the anticipation of a good adaptation, even after the disappointment over the changes in Hush. It is a good adaptation but the changes honestly made the film fall flat towards the end, two major changes that should not have been made in the first place.
However, this two part film is still worth the long, long wait.
This was Naya Rivera's final work before her death in 2020.
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