Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One
Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
Runtime: 87 minutes
Release Date: Digital – July 27, 2021; Blu-ray – August 10, 2021
Synopsis: Inspired by the iconic mid-1990s DC story from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two continues as the Holiday Killer is still at large and, with Bruce Wayne under the spell of the venomous Poison Ivy, Batman is nowhere to be found. Liberated by an unlikely ally, Bruce quickly uncovers the real culprit: Poison Ivy’s employer Carmine Falcone. The Roman, his ranks decimated by Holiday and his business spinning out of control, has been forced to bring on less desirable partners – Gotham City’s rogues’ gallery. In the meantime, Harvey Dent is confronting battles on two fronts: attempting to end the mob war while also dealing with a strained marriage. And, after an attack that leaves Harvey hideously disfigured, the District Attorney unleashes the duality of his psyche that he’s strived his entire life to suppress. Now, as Two-Face, Dent decides to take the law into his own hands and deliver judgment to those who’ve wronged him, his family and all of Gotham. Ultimately, the Dark Knight must put together the tragic pieces that converged to create Two-Face, the Holiday Killer, Batman and Gotham City itself.
Jensen Ackles leads an all-star cast as the voice of Batman/Bruce Wayne alongside the late Naya Rivera as Catwoman/Selina Kyle, Josh Duhamel as Harvey Dent/Two-Face, Billy Burke as Commissioner James Gordon, Katee Sackhoff as Poison Ivy, Titus Welliver as Carmine Falcone, Julie Nathanson as Gilda Dent, David Dastmalchian as Calendar Man & The Penguin, Troy Baker as The Joker, Amy Landecker as Barbara Gordon & Carla Vitti, Fred Tatasciore as Solomon Grundy, Alyssa Diaz as Renee Montoya, and Alastair Duncan as Alfred. In addition, Robin Atkin Downes voices both Scarecrow & Thomas Wayne, John DiMaggio is the Mad Hatter, Laila Berzins is Sofia Falcone, Jim Pirri is Sal Maroni, and Zach Callison is Young Bruce Wayne. Additional voice work was provided by Gary Leroi Gray and Rick Wasserman.
The entire filmmaking team returns for Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two as led by supervising producer Butch Lukic, director Chris Palmer, and screenwriter Tim Sheridan. Producers are Jim Krieg and Kimberly S. Moreau. Executive Producer is Michael Uslan. Sam Register is Executive Producer.
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Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two Animated Feature Review
By James Harvey
After a successful kick-off to this two-part adaptation of the acclaimed Batman comic book story-line, Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment brings it home with a strong, satisfying wrap to the Holiday mystery that’s held Gotham City in its grasp for over a year. Not only is Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two one of the best adaptations from the DC Universe Movie line, but it also might just be better than the source material.
Following the events of Part One, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two finds the Holiday Killer still at large and Bruce Wayne under Poison Ivy’s control. Soon, Batman discovers that Carmine Falcone, his ranks decimated by Holiday and his business spinning out of control, has been forced to bring on less desirable partners – Batman’s costumed rogues’ gallery – in order to retain power. As everything, including Harvey Dent himself, starts to fall apart, the Dark Knight must put the tragic pieces back together again to solve the mystery of the Holiday Killer.
Spoilers will be kept as light as possible in this review, but there will be some plot-specific material covered.
With more story to cover and a noticeable uptick in action beats, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two puts its focus square on the endgame and rarely waivers. While Part One told it’s story with a more methodical approach, here the pace and tension ticks up considerably. With the threat and stakes established, Part Two follows the resulting desperate and tense race to save the perpetually troubled Gotham City from both the Holiday killer and the growing threat of Batman’s costumed rogues gallery. Director Chris Palmer and writer Tim Sheridan return to continue their work from Part One, and except for a little bit of a bumpy start, the pair basically hit the ground running and never stop.
While the story’s mystery is the hook, Sheridan knows it’s the characters that truly drive this story, and that shows in the final product. Characters here aren’t shoved aside for spectacle or due to time (a benefit of the extended length of this two-part adaptation), and remain just as engaging here as they were on those original four-color pages (or better, in Catwoman’s case). It’s a testament to the writing that, even with the film’s pace, characters never feel left behind and nothing feels rushed, right up to the final moments. Keep in mind this isn’t a one-to-one adaptation, made clear in Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One, so expect things to play out maybe a shade differently than expected. And you better believe there are some definite surprises to be had (and yes, stick around after the credits).
Sheridan’s work in adapting the 13-issue story into a feature narrative is impressive, too. Instead of the climax feeling just like another issue to adapt, there’s a real tangible build to it, and what happens feels not just earned, but even more satisfying than the original Batman: The Long Halloween comic series. Granted, what’s done with the revelations by certain characters may be another debate point, but you can’t argue with how much better the mystery comes together here. The muddied revelation in the comics is gone and, instead, everything here is laid out in an immensely gratifying manner.
That said, there is a small hiccup with Part Two as it has to deal with a little bit of awkward housekeeping from Part One, particularly Poison Ivy’s role at the start of the movie (the result of her key bit in this story being shoved to an after-credit scene in Part One when it really should’ve been that movie’s cliffhanger ending) – but once that’s out of the way, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two charges straight ahead and doesn’t look back. And not to make excuses, but it feels like this bump will be non-existent in the “Deluxe Edition” coming in 2022, which will combine Part One and Part Two together as a single narrative (think Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and The Death and Return of Superman).
And again, yes, details are being kept vague for the sake of spoilers.
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As with Part One, the cast and performances in Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two are both equally exceptional. Josh Duhamel turns in one of the film’s best performances as District Attorney Harvey Dent, here finally succumbing to his other personality, Two-Face. Duhamel pulls out a fantastic performance, depicting the beleaguered D.A.’s violent descent with palpable menace. Julie Nathanson, as the D.A.’s long-suffering wife, Gilda Dent, also deserves accolades for her handling of such a deceptively complex character. Continuing, the late Naya Rivera continues to impress as Catwoman, as does Titus Welliver as the fading gangster Carmine Falcone. Jensen Ackles gets plenty of meaty moments in Part Two, and nails every single one, further cementing his take on The Dark Knight. And honestly, just about the same could be said about every member of the cast, as all turn in really, really great work. Wes Gleason is producing some of his best work, and he could not have asked for a better cast.
Speaking of top-notch work, composer Michael Gatt’s work in Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two is legitimately stirring and surprising. Gatt continues to make unpredictable choices when it comes to his compositional choices, and the resulting listen is entrancing but never distracting. Let’s hope a soundtrack release is in the cards for this one.
Also worth recognition is the noticeably improved animation. While Part One did suffer from inconsistent animation quality, here it’s barely an issue. While there are moments of stiff, underwhelming quality, those are thankfully few and far in-between. The character designs look especially great this time around, aided by the improved animation, appearing more vibrant and full. And while it’s somewhat understandable that folks hoping this film would slavishly ape Batman: The Long Halloween artist Tim Sale’s style are upset, here it ends up being the right choice, grounding the story and freeing it up to interpretation. Countless adaptations, comic book-based or otherwise, have made changes – sometimes substantial – to their respective source materials, and here it’s no different.
Successfully wrapping up DC Universe Movie’s two-part adaptation of the acclaimed comic series, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two is a tense, exciting thriller that surpasses both its predecessor and debatably the source material itself. As with Part One, Part Two truly excels due to the sum of its parts. The writing and directing pair up so well, aided by sound animation and another great slate of performances from the cast. Even with a couple hiccups here and there, those end up being relatively minor in comparison to the major beats Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two pulls off without a hitch.
Fans of the classic comic series by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale should be pleased with the end product here. Like Part One, Part Two stays absolutely true to the core of the comics which inspired it. While there are some elements changed and added, everything clicks where it should, serviced by a taut script and interesting characters. If you’ve never read Batman: The Long Halloween, the animated adaptation is a more than worthy introduction to one of Batman’s most acclaimed stories. Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two absolutely delivers on the expectations set in Part One, making for an adaptation that’ll undoubtedly become an evergreen title for Warner Bros. and the DC Universe Movie line. Highly Recommended!
Hold up, the review isn’t done just yet! Click the link below to a look at Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two‘s Blu-ray release, including the attached DC Showcase Blue Beetle animated short!
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