New to Blu-ray, DVD, and digital this week is the animated mystery movie, Batman: The Long Halloween – Part 1. The feature-length film, based on the classic comic book tale of the same name by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, tells the story of Batman’s hunt for a serial killer, who murders victims around key holiday dates.
In the movie, Batman, Commissioner Gordon, and District Attorney Harvey Dent team up in an attempt to take down the mob. However, their plan to save Gotham City is interrupted by the emergence of a serial killer, who is slowly working their way through Gotham’s underworld.
Known only as ‘Holiday’, the mysterious assailant is picking off mobsters one-by-one. Each victim is shot with a small handgun, and each murder takes place on a specific holiday – starting with Halloween and running through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Batman investigates the case, but even with help from Catwoman and some assistance from Calendar Man, he struggles to find the suspect. And to make matters worse, the Joker has escaped from Arkham Asylum, and has plans to bring some Christmas chaos to Gotham City.
Batman: The Long Halloween – Part 1 is the first of a two-part adaptation of The Long Halloween, with Part 2 set for release in July. The movie features the vocal talents of Jensen Ackles, Josh Duhamel, Billy Burke, Troy Baker, and David Dastmalchian, and provides the final film role for actress Naya Rivera, who sadly passed away in 2020.
Of all the direct-to-video DC Universe Animated Original Movies (of which this is the 42nd), Batman: The Long Halloween is one of the most anticipated releases so far. The original comic that it is based on, is a fan-favourite tale, and many people have been chomping at the bit to see the classic story given the animated treatment.
And what a bloomin’ good treatment it gets too! Batman: The Long Halloween – Part 1 is an excellent Batman movie, and a veritable feast for the eyes.
When I first pressed ‘play’ on this film, I was a little concerned that the animation didn’t reflect the art style of Tim Sale – the artist who illustrated the original comic. Sale has an incredibly unique style, of which I am a big fan, and not seeing his work directly translated onto the screen was initially disconcerting.
However, any reservations I had about the artwork were quickly brushed to one side, as it soon became very clear that this movie had its own unique style, which didn’t need to slavishly recreate Sale’s work. A choice was made to try something a little different with the character designs and backgrounds, and ultimately this has resulted in a highly stylised picture, which looks equally as stunning.
Batman: The Long Halloween – Part 1 is simply gorgeous, and easily one of the best-looking animated Batman movies so far. At times the colours pop off the screen, and one scene in particular – which involves an aerial battle between Batman and the Joker – is truly mesmerising.
But it’s not just the animation that works so well, the voice cast is excellent too. Having previously voiced the Caped Crusader in other animated movies, Jensen Ackles continues to deliver a perfect turn as Batman, while Troy Baker is marvellous as the Joker (as always), and Naya Rivera is great as Catwoman.
As is often the case with these DC animated feature films, all of the cast are spot on. They nail their parts with ease, and this all helps to make everything feel so real, and so involving.
The cast will expand next month, when Part 2 lands, and I really can’t wait to see and hear even more classic characters brought to life. I also can’t wait to hear what Josh Duhamel does with Harvey Dent, when he takes his inevitable turn to the dark side.
But I am getting ahead of myself – this is Part 1, so I’ll discuss the second half of this story next time around.
Although, I must make it clear that as this is only the first half of the story, Batman: The Long Halloween – Part 1 is a film without a resolution. The central mystery is spread across both chapters, so don’t pick up this movie expecting a complete tale – that will come in time, this is just the beginning.
And as this mystery is being divided in two, you should know that Batman: The Long Halloween – Part 1 is a bit of a slow-burn. I mention this now, just in case you favour fast-moving Batman stories, because that is not what this film is about.
The story here is built up over the course of 85 minutes, and when paired with the second chapter it will take almost three hours to fully play out. This is a murder mystery, which needs time to line up all of its suspects, so keep this in mind.
I also need to note that the original story that this movie is based on, is set over the course of a year, with a new murder taking place every month. This first film covers a period of four months, so expect the pace to increase in Part 2, as more holidays are ticked off.
What I found most enjoyable about Part 1, is the interplay between Batman, Commissioner Gordon, and Harvey Dent. Very much like the 2008 live-action Batman movie, The Dark Knight (which took inspiration from The Long Halloween), the interaction between this trio is integral to the story.
These guys are at the heart of this tale, and their connection to each other, as well as their individual story beats, make this film feel quite grounded and somewhat more ‘grown-up’. This is a story for adult fans, who like character development and plotting, and this movie delivers all of this and then some.
Be mindful that this isn’t a movie aimed at younger audiences. In the UK, Batman: The Long Halloween – Part 1 carries a ‘15’ certificate, and does include a fairly gruesome death scene, so don’t expect to sit down to watch this one with the kids.
Keep this one for yourself. Set aside an evening to view it, and enjoy the experience.
For me, Batman: The Long Halloween – Part 1 is an excellent animated Batman movie. It retains the essence of everything that worked so well in the original comic, but gives it a few tweaks here and there in order to successfully bring it to the screen.
A lot of time and effort has been put into this movie; it shows, and it is appreciated.
If you love animated DC movies, or you are a fan of the original comic, then I recommend you check out Batman: The Long Halloween – Part 1. It has much to offer, and I’m sure you will find yourself getting caught up in the story in the same way I did.
It is a slower tale than many of the previous Batman movies, so do be mindful of this, but approach this in the right way and you will find much to enjoy. Oh, and make sure you stick around after the end credits, for an additional scene that teases what is to come in Part 2.
- What are the best episodes of Batman Beyond?
- Batman (1989) – Did you know?
- Whatever happened to the cast of Batman: The Animated Series?