New on Blu, Batman Storytelling at its Tragic and Melancholy Best
DC Animation released Part One of The Long Halloween on June 22nd, and now follow it up with the conclusion in Part Two.
Taking the pair, they form a pretty formidable saga, and to the film’s great credit there’s a palpable sense of the passage of time — it does feel like a year has gone by with these characters.
Part One introduced the unsolved mystery of Holiday-themed killer (“Holiday”) rubbing out many of Gotham’s top gangsters; the random pattern not seeming to favor any faction or family. A triumvirate of Batman, Commissioner Gordon, and DA Harvey Dent strive to solve the case, dealing with the complex crux of both being crimefighters and protecting notorious criminals.
Like Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008), Part Two focuses on telling the story of the downfall of Harvey Dent, and his descent and transformation into the villain known as Two-Face. Between his difficult all-consuming job, marriage troubles at home, and the suspicion by many (even his closest allies) that he is Holiday, he sinks further into despair and anger — with explosive results.
The film establishes a chilly, melancholy air from the outset. We find Bruce Wayne a prisoner in his own home, manipulated by Poison Ivy who uses her seductive powers to swindle him into dirty business dealings.
The film carries on the sense of escalation that’s established in Part One: traditional crime families and gangsters are a dying breed, hastened by their extermination at the hands of Holiday and replaced by a new class of criminal. Grotesque supervillains with weird themes, psychoses, and abilities: misanthropes like The Joker, Penguin, Solomon Grundy, Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, and most tragically, Two-Face.
DC’s Animation has been really excellent over the last few years, and I’ve really enjoyed many of these films, which are almost characteristically great. Even so, The Long Halloween is the first which feels like it should be an event. This film could play theaters and stand alongside the best of Nolan or Burton. I truly believe that. It has such a potent air of melancholy and tragedy, and is truly a splendid take on comic book storytelling.
I can’t go without mentioning that Selina Kyle is a straight-up MVP. She’s wonderfully characterized in this film, with her own story arc and motivations, and her love for Bruce is so pure and beautifully demonstrated. For a complex character that’s both a villain and ally in the mythos, this is probably Catwoman at her loveliest and most heroic, one of the best highlights in a story that’s ostensibly “about” other characters.
Batman: The Long Halloween Part II is new on Blu-ray in an edition that also includes a code for Movies Anywhere access. The packaging implements a continuation of the motif of Part One — the two form a combined theme of sorts when placed next to each other. Both titles also carry on the nifty spine art mural which has been at play since Superman: Man of Tomorrow. My copy came with a slipcover.
Historically when DC Animation has released their films in two parts (The Dark Knight Returns, The Death and Return of Superman), they’ve followed it up with a combined edition merging the pairing into a single, longer film. According to Warner Brothers, that will also be the case for The Long Halloween, and viewers who want a 4K disc will need to wait for the combined release.
Special Features and Extras
DC Showcase: Blue Beetle (15:30)
One of the most entertaining of these shorts that I’ve seen, Blue Beetle directly parodies the style of the 1967 Spider-Man series in a team-up investigation with The Question that involves hippies, a soda recall, and an emotional manipulation device. The stylization is pretty spot-on, and the film is quite funny and enjoyable. With appearances from Captain Atom, Nightshade, and Doctor Spectro.
Batman: The Animated Series Episodes —
Mirroring the theme of the origin of Two Face, the disc includes the two-part episode “Two-Face” (22:27) and “Two-Face Part II” (22:30) from 1992.
Sneak peek: Injustice (7:48)
DC’s upcoming project based on the popular fighting game series pits DC Allies (and villains) against each other in a Elseworlds-esque “Civil War” event with Batman and a tyrannical Superman on opposing sides.
Additional “sneak peeks” of past Batman animated films:
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 (6:53)
Batman: Hush (9:17)
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Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system.