It is safe to say DC Animation have been knocking it out of the park recently, with a concerted effort to deliver their absorbing back-catalogue to a new medium and an eager audience. They’ve been guilty of phoning it in at times over the years but lately their output has been refreshingly good, with a real emphasis on fleshing out their characters and storylines to full effect. What better way to do that then by adapting their rich history of ground-breaking stories into animated movies? ‘Batman: The Long Halloween Part 1’ fits this remit perfectly, and this first of a two-parter is a must-see for anyone looking for great storytelling, compelling characterisation, and beautifully rendered animation.
Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s seminal masterpiece ‘Batman: The Long Halloween’ wowed readers when it first burst onto the scene in 1996. Coming off the back of the popular Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween Specials, (a collection of seasonal one-shots that celebrated Batman’s close relationship with all things spooky in Gotham), this 13-part series spanning across a year had readers on the edge of their seats. It has also gone on to inspire some big moments in Batman’s history, especially with plot points that have clearly influenced Christopher Nolan for both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. It’s an effortless translation to the big screen and one that really captures the essence of the story, making ‘Batman: The Long Halloween Part 1’ an unmissable treat.
The first thing that grabs you is the sense of atmospheric style that this animated film has adopted. It’s befitting of the comic book, with choice pieces of artwork even being used as part of the film’s opening credits. ‘The Long Halloween’ had a very distinct visual style. The animated movie takes its inspiration from the pages of the comic book but still keeps a familiar aesthetic to previous DC animated movies. The end result is the best of both worlds, doing both mediums justice.
Part 1 starts off as it means to go on, with a suspense-filled murder spree running across Gotham City. A mysterious killer named Holiday is slaying his victims on holidays, starting off on Halloween. Batman (Jensen Ackles) is not only dealing with this puzzling crime, but is also starting to have a serious relationship with Selina Kyle aka Catwoman (Naya Rivera). Captain Jim Gordon (Billy Burke) and new District Attorney Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel) are waging a war on the organised crime syndicates eating away at their city, headed by crime boss Carmine Falcone (Titus Welliver) and rival gang lord Sal Maroni (Jim Pirri). With more murders building up over Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year, Batman struggles to put the pieces together as well as having to deal with a maniacal Joker (Troy Baker) who has just broken out of Arkham.
The vocal cast are amazing in this movie, with proper actors giving each of these iconic roles real depth and character progression. Jensen Ackles and Naya Rivera sparkle with chemistry. In what has sadly become one of her last screen roles, the late Rivera absolutely shines here and captures the magic of Catwoman and her love for Bruce Wayne. It’s one of the best Catwoman and Batman interpretations I’ve seen for years. Elsewhere, renowned voice-acting royalty Troy Baker is sublime as a psychopathic Joker, Titus Welliver channels his inner Marlon Brando for the role of Falcone and Josh Duhamel gives just the right amount of pent-up frustration that makes Harvey Dent such a tragic, fascinating character.
‘Batman: The Long Halloween Part 1’ is fantastic and really honours the legacy of the mini-series. The performances are all exceptional, its style is there for all to see, and its pacing keeps you hooked throughout. With amazing animated projects like this being delivered, it shows that DC Animation are taking their legacy seriously and furthermore, making an effort to deliver these milestone stories to a new audience in this spectacular fashion showcases that they are willing to do things a little differently. After the finale to ‘The Long Halloween’ arrives, excitement builds for an Injustice animated movie, their next ambitious project that could once again jolt the DC universe into new horizons. In the meantime ‘Batman: The Long Halloween Part 2’ will be released at the end of next month, and frankly I cannot wait to see this compelling drama play out.
Cast: Jensen Ackles, Naya Rivera, Josh Duhamel, Titus Welliver, Jack Quaid, Troy Baker, Billy Burke, Greg Chun, David Dastmalchian, Alastair Duncan, Amy Landecker, Julie Nathanson, Jim Pirri, Fred Tatasciore Director: Chris Palmer Writer: Jeph Loeb, Tim Sheridan Certificate: 15 Duration: 100 mins Released by: Warner Bros Release date: 21st June 2021