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‘Batman: The Long Halloween: Deluxe Edition’ (review)

Released by Warner Bros.

One of the most iconic Batman stories of all time has finally been made into an animated film.

It’s a good one, too. Even better, it stays true to the original 13 issue comic book series.

That is always a positive thing and a not so positive thing, at least for me. It is positive because it doesn’t differentiate from what made the book good in the first place. It is a bit negative because I have already read the comic book series a few times and the element of surprise is completely gone when it comes to the twists and turns.

If the viewer hasn’t read it, however? The surprises will hit that much harder.

The plot involves a serial killer that is on the loose. This killer only strikes on holidays. Batman launches into action.

As a result, Batman is really put through his paces in this story. With each holiday that passes, Batman gets more clues that he has to try to put together and solve.

This Holiday killer is murdering members of the Gotham City underworld.

Why are they doing that? What is their connection to the victims?

Is it one of Batman’s villains that he has already fought? Or is this threat someone completely new? The original comic book story asked these questions and the film deftly follows suit.

Screenwriter Tim Sheridan does a great job translating Jeph Loeb’s original comic book script into movie form. The flavor of the dialogue is represented well. Batman is in full detective mode here and watching him decipher clues is quite excellent.

It’s hard to ignore that a lot of this story was meant to feature a new villain in each issue. I can speculate that this was done in the original comic book story to have artist Tim Sale draw each villain that he wanted to. Loeb has a way of doing that in his writing (the best example of this is the comic book series Batman: Hush). This story was one of the first times he did this technique in a comic. It worked well in the comic and Sheridan does a similarly great job of making it all seamless.

The voice talent is really decent here as well. Jensen Ackles makes for a fine Batman, at least in his voice. I know he’s a passionate fan and it comes through. The late Naya Rivera does a great job as Selina Kyle/Catwoman and Jack Quaid does a good job as mobster Alberto Falcone. It’s a strong cast and they really bring the material to life.

The animation is very good here. The only complaint that I have is that the character design, although excellent, doesn’t capture the unique and inimitable art that Sale brought to this series.  The designs are clean, but lack the magic that Sale’s stye brought to the original series.  As a result, the film almost felt a bit style-less, and I think that Sale’s art style would have elevated the project extensively.

Extras include a featurette, previews and four episodes of Batman: The Animated Series.

Overall, it is a good film, a great adaptation, and an animated film that is definitely worth the viewer’s time.

RATING: A-

*  *  *  *  *
Produced by Jim Krieg, Kimberly S. Moreau
Written by Tim Sheridan
Based on Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale
Directed by Chris Palmer
Starring Jensen Ackles, Josh Duhamel, Naya Rivera, Billy Burke,
Troy Baker,  David Dastmalchian, Amy Landecker, Fred Tatasciore,
John DiMaggio, Katee Sackhoff, Titus Welliver

 

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