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Review – Batman: The Long Halloween: Part Two – “Far more satisfying and fun”

Available now on digital and arriving on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray steelbook on the 9th of August, Batman: The Long Halloween Part Two is written by Tim Sheridan (Masters of the Universe: Revelation) – adapted from the graphic novel written by Jeph Loeb – and is directed by Chris Palmer (Superman: Man of Tomorrow). The voice cast features Jensen Ackles (Supernatural), Naya Rivera (Glee), Josh Duhamel (Transformers) and Billy Burke (The Twilight Saga).

Again opening with a series of panels from the original comic during the title sequence, Batman: The Long Halloween Part Two begins with Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ackles) completely under the spell of Poison Ivy (Katee Sackhoff), who is keeping him utterly mesmerised and signing over all his assets to Carmine Falcone (Titus Welliver). Until Catwoman (Rivera) swings through the window and saves him.

While Bats has been blissed out of his mind with Ivy the last few months, the gang war between the Maronis and the Falcones fuelled by the continuing festive killings perpetrated by Holiday have been tearing Gotham apart. With the bat signal being lit and left unanswered, Harvey Dent (Duhamel) has pushed himself further towards the edge. Even before a courtroom acid attack physically transforms Harvey into Two-Face he is mentally teetering and this throws him off the psychological cliff just as the most infamous Batman villains break out of Arkham Asylum.

The Cat and The Bat, now in World’s Greatest Detective mode, must keep the Dark Knight’s formidable rogues gallery (now working together under Two-Face’s leadership) at bay, stop a gang war, figure out who Holiday is, save Gotham and try and find the time to snog atop some skyscrapers.

The fights in Part Two are more dynamic than in Part One, and feature some exciting match-ups, with Catwoman versus Poison Ivy, a Batman-Joker knife fight and Solomon Grundy smashing up everyone and everything being particular standouts. The action choreography is clean and easy to follow and everybody gets plenty of time to shine and moments to pose.

Scarecrow (Robin Atkin Downes) and Mad Hatter (John DiMaggio) team up and have great chemistry, with Hatter’s geezer voice and habit of knocking people out with a teapot being a lot of fun and Scarecrow getting some superb scary shots before sending Bats into a fear toxin nightmare freefall. It’s a very cool-looking and terrifying trip, even if it means us having to see the Waynes bite it for the hundred thousandth time.

The so-hot-right-now breakout star of The Suicide Squad, David Dastmalchian, features too. This time around supplying the pipes for both Calendar Man and The Penguin. While CM spends all his screentime banged up in an admittedly great-looking Arkham, The Penguin gets to have some fun.

Everything looks great and all the villains and their powers are captured beautifully cinematically, with nice small moments such as Batman picking up Penguin’s umbrella to clout Joker also putting a smile on the face of anyone who loves these baddies and wants to see them all playing off and with each other, Royal Rumble style, on screen.

Indeed, Part Two is overall far more satisfying and fun than Part One. It gets to tie up and pay things off that felt left dangling before, such as the seemingly random initial presence of Solomon Grundy (Fred Tatasciore) who becomes essential and the gang war shenanigans, while still feeling too slow and bogged down, here gets a shot in the arm. That is thanks to the presence of the film’s MVP Sofia Falcone (Laila Berzin). There is some really nice father-daughter interplay between Carmine and his double hard double machine gun-wielding daughter and Sofia really is the heart of the story – thanks to Berzin, she is as memorable as the credits roll as any of Bats’ craziest, most famous baddies.

Ackles’ Batman voice doesn’t convince though, neither does his Bruce to be honest. Both are too similar and anyone with one good ear would know Wayne is Batman in this Gotham. There just is not enough gravel in his Dark Knight or playful playboy looseness in his Wayne, meaning he always feels cast for name recognition and always sounds like a kid doing a Batman voice. Josh Duhamel’s performance gets a million times better when he gets to let loose and go full Two-Face and Alastair Duncan’s Alfred is another voicework high-point – not too overdone, with just the right levels of gruff and caring.

The disc itself is decent with unfortunately static menus, but a fair amount of extras – although if you have been collecting these DC animated features some will be repeats or simply trying to sell you on a film you already own.

The Blue Beetle DC Showcase is an extremely enjoyable and charmingly old-school fifteen-minute adventure with all the visual signifiers of a sixties Saturday morning cartoon but with a modern nous and wit. Injustice Sneak Peek is an eight-minute focus on the upcoming adaptation of the video game into a feature, and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 Preview is a short peek at the second half of the adaptation of Frank Miller’s iconic and legendary Batman tale.

Batman: Hush Preview is just a look at the adaptation I reviewed a couple of years ago, but

Batman: The Animated Series – ‘Two-Face’ Parts 1 and 2 is – to be honest – worth the price of the disc alone. The animated series was and still is incredible to look at and so faithful to the Dark Knight. Certain visuals and character looks from the first few seasons are as iconic to me as imagery and representations from the movies. This two-parter focussed on Harvey Dent becoming Two-Face is a great example of this and a flat-out flipping fantastic forty-five minutes.

Batman: The Long Halloween Part One is available now and you can read my review here. Batman: The Long Halloween Part Two is available now on Digital July 27 and on DVD, Blu-ray™ & Blu-ray™ steelbook August 9.

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