Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Batman:The Long Halloween, Parts One and Two

Part 1 premiered June 22, 2021.
Part 2 premiered July 27, 2021. 

A note from your trusted holiday bloggers:
This animated special contains multiple murders, bloody corpses and curse words.  It's intended for an adult audience and is NOT recommended for young children.

It's Halloween in Gotham City.  At Wayne Manor, Bruce Wayne (Jensen Ackles), aka The Batman, is spending a quiet evening at home.  His butler Alfred (Alastair Duncan) has candy to hand out, but Bruce points out that no children have trick or treated at the mansion for years.

Elsewhere, Gotham's police commissioner Jim Gordon (Billy Burke) is preparing to take his children Barbara and James trick or treating.  Their plans change quickly when Gordon is called into work.

District Attorney Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel) arrives home to find his wife Gilda (Julie Nathanson) sitting alone in the back yard.  She wants them to spend Halloween together at home, but unfortunately, his job doesn't allow Dent to take off for Halloween.  

A mob informant named Johnny Vitti has been murdered, shot to death.  Dent is furious, because the next day, Vitti was supposed to turn state's evidence against his uncle Carmine Falcone (Titus Welliver), better known as "The Roman." 

Falcone is the head of a major organized crime family.  Gordon believes that all hope isn't lost.  If he, Batman and Dent work together, they can still take down Falcone.  He says Dent will work "in the light" while the Batman works "the other side," and instructs them to "bend the rules, never break them."  Batman has a long history with Falcone, since his father Thomas Wayne conducted business with the Roman.  

During his search for the killer, Batman is aided by his sometimes-villain/sometimes-girlfriend Catwoman (Naya Rivera).

At Falcone's headquarters, the Roman fumes over his nephew's death and believes Dent is to blame.  When it's time to discuss business, Falcone dismisses his bookish son Alberto (Jack Quaid), who the Roman describes as is "32, going on 13."  

Later that night, when Dent returns home, he's seriously wounded when his home is firebombed. 

The next month, Mickey Chen (Greg Chun) and his gang are gunned down during their Thanksgiving dinner.  The Chen gang had been employed by Falcone.  

This makes Batman and Gordon believe they have a serial killer on their hands.  They nickname the murderer "Holiday," since the killer only strikes on holidays.

Gordon and Batman question imprisoned villain Calendar Man (David Dastmalchian) in Arkham Asylum

The carnage continues on Christmas.  This time, Batman's greatest enemy, the Joker (Troy Baker) shows up and joins the list of suspects.  

Can Batman bring Holiday to justice before they commit another holiday murder?

J.A. Morris says:

It's worth noting that the first part of this movie premiered this past June, while the second part debut in July.  We're treating it as one film presented in two parts. 

I'm a big fan of superheroes and Halloween, and I've read the comic book miniseries that was the basis for Batman:The Long Halloween, so I went into this expecting to enjoy it.  And I did, especially Part One.  It features scenes that take place on Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve.  This movie is tailor-made for this blog!

In addition to Batman, it features the Joker, the Caped Crusader's greatest nemesis, and Catwoman, who assists Batman in his quest to unmask Holiday.  We get plenty of fight scenes that feature Batman taking on various antagonists.  There's a great scene involving the Joker attacking Gotham City with a plane.  

The mystery behind Holiday's identity is a good mystery that I didn't immediately solve.  

Fans of "Mafia" movies will appreciate visual and dialogue references to movies like The Godfather which feature prominently in the Falcone family scenes.  The scenes that feature Falcone berating his son Alberto are also well done.  I found myself feeling sorry for Alberto.

The voice actors all did a good job in Batman:The Long Halloween.  Jensen Ackles (best known for his role on Supernatural) voices Batman and provides solid work.  Naya Rivera plays Catwoman.  This was Rivera's final role before her tragic death and the film is dedicated to her.  In a small role, Fred Tatasciore is great as the zombie Solomon Grundy.  

Part One of this two-part film is very good.  The second part is much weaker.  Holidays in the New Year are barely mentioned in Part Two.  Granted, Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day pale in comparison to Halloween and Christmas, but I think the filmmakers could've done something more interesting with those occasions.  It makes for a disappointing finish to the story.

Batman:The Long Halloween, Parts One and Two is a movie that will be enjoyed by all fans of Batman and Holiday programming.  Since it features multiple holidays, it's something that can be enjoyed year-round.  However, the lackluster Part Two prevents me from giving it a higher rating.

J.A. Morris' rating:

2 and a half jack o'lanterns.

RigbyMel says:

Batman: The Long Halloween is a good animated adaptation of the comic miniseries of the same title by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale.   The animated version suggests the art style used in the comic without straight up copying it and the story is a lot of fun.   

By virtue of the extended nature of the year-long string of murders,  we get multiple visits to Arkham Asylum and encounters with an assortment of villains from  Batman's extensive rogue's gallery. 

Poison Ivy (Katee Sackhoff) really makes an impression in Part 2 and Troy Baker's channeling of a Mark Hamill-esque Joker in Part 1 is fantastic.   

As J.A. Morris mentions above, there are fun meta references to other movies.  For instance, the scenes where Batman and Commissioner Gordon go to try and glean information from Calendar Man have strong Silence of the Lambs vibes.  

The notion of the serial killer who only operates on holidays is an interesting and creepy conceit and the mystery has enough surprises for Bat-afficionados and neophytes alike. 

Thanksgiving dinner a la gangster

My only real complaint is that it feels like the filmmakers got bored with the holiday murder concept by the time they got around to Part 2 and give it short shrift in that installment.   Still,  The Long Halloween makes for entertaining superhero/holiday viewing.   

RigbyMel's rating:

2 and a half jack o'lanterns