The latest addition to DC’s lasting Animated universe, Batman: The Long Halloween part 1 breathes life and substance into what could be perceived as a prologue to its upcoming sequel, with an impressive noir soaked thrill ride showcasing the caped crusader at the pinnacle of his detective prowess. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, which also happens to be one of the most universally acclaimed Batman stories of all time, the story follows a young Bruce Wayne during his sophomore outing as the dark knight when Gotham city is targeted by a serial killer, a mysterious new threat who stalks his victims on different holidays throughout the year.
The first of this two part adaptation starts out as a faithful retelling of the early events from the comic, pulling fan favourite scenes and lines straight from the page. There’s much to love about Director Chris Palmer and screenwriter Tim Sheridan’s efforts in their retelling of this story, who have evidently spent their time wisely with a focus on both updating and streamlining their approach to its narrative, in order to make it more accessible for modern audiences whilst still retaining the core mystery and brisk pace for fans of the original. Characters have been given a level of depth not seen in the comic and story beats have received a much needed overhaul in order to flesh out its narrative.
Batman spends his time forging an uneasy alliance with the current Gotham City district attorney Harvey Dent, a character fans will know all too well, through their common interest in taking down the Falcone Crime family. Their investigation takes unexpected detours when the body count rapidly begins to rise and their leads whittle down to a only a handful of suspects, Batman is then forced to look at those closest to him.
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural) takes on the mantle of Gotham’s saviour and does an admirable job at capturing the spirit of The Batman, showcasing both his intellect and early inexperience as he juggles with this ever twisting case. There’s an uncanny nuance to his performance as he bounces back and forth between a Bruce Wayne still yet to develop his playboy persona and a Batman who never thought he would have to become a detective, two distinctly different personas yet intertwined at ever turn. We watch as Bruce tries his best to hold his personal relationships together whilst they tear apart at the seams and his on and off again relationship with Catwoman as Batman leaves him more vulnerable than we are typically used to seeing. Ackles performance only helps build towards the hype train as it barrels towards its inevitable conclusion in Part 2.
Troy baker returns to voice The Joker, a role he solidified during his tenure as the character in the Arkham Game series, and carries the character with elegance and poise as fans have come to expect from him.
However, the film is not without its faults, the art style in particular at times appears bland, characters faces are empty without expression with only its core cast given actual emotions to display. It’s clear that DC were going for a crisp clean atheistic but when dealing with a story as gritty as the The Long Halloween is, I would have liked to have seen a style that reflected its tone. When the action gets going, the film can be a real feast for the eyes but during its more static moments, it’s hard to not want more from an animation studio so well versed in their expertise.
With that said, Batman: The Long Halloween part 1 is exactly what it needed to be in order to set the stage for a grandiose finish. It’s a exciting opening to a much larger story, with a mystery that will leave you on the edge of your seat, forcing you to become the dark knight and connect the dots yourself. Part 2 will only further deepen the mystery set in this film and with more players being added into the mix, only time will tell if the filmmaking duo can maintain the exceptional standards they set themselves with this one.
Batman: The Long Halloween Part One is available on DVD, Blu-ray™ & Blu-ray™ steelbook June 21 and on Digital June 22.
Animation, Action | USA, 2021 | 12 | 21st June 2021 | Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital | Warner Bros HE | Dir.Chris Palmer | Naya Rivera, Troy Baker, Billy Burke, Jensen Ackles, Josh Duhamel,