[Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Halloween Daily News with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this article. The opinions the author shares are are his own.]
Batman: The Long Halloween Part One is finally here, and it delivers a moody and cool holiday treat for fans of the Dark Knight, who are going to love seeing such a beloved storyline brought to life.
The first half of this summer’s animated feature film adaptations of the classic mid-1990s comic book story by Jeph Loeb and Time Sale, The Long Halloween Part One‘s first act takes place on Halloween Night, and it is packed with appropriate atmosphere, kicking off with a beautiful tone-setting shot of a lit jack-o’-lantern and blood behind the film’s title as it appears. The opening credits are accompanied by actual panels from the source comic books, intercut with a montage setting the stage for the first known kill of a mystery villain who will soon be known only as Holiday.
We meet all of the main characters through how they are each spending the holiday. Bruce Wayne, voiced by Jensen Ackles, is at home with Alfred (played by Alastair Duncan), stating that it’s an absurd holiday, to which Alfred responds, “Ah yes, putting on costumes and striking fear. Quite absurd.” Bruce’s alter ego has a more lively All Hallows’ Eve, however, as Batman has a high flying night with Catwoman, voiced by the late Naya Rivera.
Played by Billy Burke, James Gordon, who is a Gotham City Police captain at this point in his career, is at home about to take his kids trick or treating. It’s notable that Gordon’s daughter, Barbara (the future Batgirl) is dressed as a Gotham Police officer, while his son, James is dressed as a ghost. But they don’t make it out the door before Gordon is called in to work the murder of a member of the Falcone crime family.
District Attorney Harvey Dent, voiced by Josh Duhamel, comes home to his wife, Gilda, played by Julie Nathanson, who is depressed and not feeling much Halloween spirit. At one point, she tells Harvey, “You have a love/hate relationship with everything,” just before he sees the bat symbol in the distant skyline.
On that Halloween Night, Batman meets with Gordon and Dent on a rooftop and they make a fateful pact to find the killer. Gordon even tells them to “bend the rules, but don’t break them.” Later that night, it’s ironically Batman who suggests that Harvey let a coin flip decide just how far he’s willing to “bend” the rules.
With the mystery of who the Halloween killer is firmly in place, the second act takes place on Thanksgiving, with Batman battling highly skilled assassins in Chinatown.
Christmas brings the Joker, voiced by Troy Baker, to Harvey’s house, where he decorates the tree with skull ornaments, and later to Gotham’s own mafia godfather Carmine Falcone (played by Titus Welliver), mainly because the Clown Prince of Crime is annoyed that the Holiday killer is trying to steal his spotlight as the number one psychopath in town.
At one point, Falcone’s rival crime boss Sal Maroni (played by Jim Pirri) even tells Batman, “You’re not much of a detective, are you?” It’s kind of shocking to hear it said out loud, but it’s true, at this point Batman is not yet “the world’s greatest detective.” He’s not even a good detective yet, but it’s that comment in the midst of this Holiday killer case that articulates to Bruce that it’s just what he will have to become.
David Dastmalchian’s Calendar Man is this film’s Hannibal Lecter-type character, imprisoned in Arkham Asylum yet seemingly in-the-know about the current killings and the possible motivations of other members of Batman’s rogues gallery of iconic villains. When Batman and Gordon visit him on Christmas Eve, he’s of course expecting them and makes quick assumptions about why Dent is not with them.
The fourth and final chapter of the film starts on New Year’s Eve and ends with a New Year’s Day murder, but not before eliminating some of the red herrings so brilliantly laid out over the course of the film, leaving the mystery more unsolved than ever as a new year dawns.
Mild spoiler: An after-credits scene introduces Poison Ivy (voiced by Halloween: Resurrection‘s Katee Sackhoff) into the mix, who immediately uses her powers to “charm” Bruce Wayne, a perfect set up for the next holiday, Valentine’s Day, which will kick off The Long Halloween Part Two.
Jensen Ackles does a great job voicing the brooding Batman, and Josh Duhamel makes a good Harvey Dent, with clear hints of rage simmering just under the surface of his righteous attorney veneer.
The film is fittingly dedicated in memory of Naya Rivera, the Glee star who died in a tragic boating accident in July of 2020 after already completing her voice work as Catwoman/Selina Kyle.
The soundtrack by Michael Gatt is especially phenomenal, setting a foreboding tone with synth styles, while at other times notably evoking Danny Elfman’s score from Batman Returns.
Bonus features on the Part One Blu-ray include a nine-minute behind the scenes sneak peek at the upcoming sequel The Long Halloween Part Two, which reveals some new footage, including Two Face saying “Trick or Treat,” Calendar Man saying “It’s All Hallows’ Eve,” and Scarecrow riding a horse.
Also included among the bonus content on the Blu-ray is the DC Showcase Short The Losers about a legendary ragtag team of WWII outcasts who find themselves marooned on an uncharted island in the South Pacific that is overrun with dinosaurs, and two classic episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, including “Christmas with The Joker,” which is just what the title suggests and is a perfect companion for this holiday-friendly feature film, and “It’s Never Too Late,” a redemption tale that may not be set on Christmas but is definitely strongly inspired by Scrooge’s story in A Christmas Carol.
Highly recommended for all seasons, the killings have only just begun for Batman, but this is one Halloween you won’t want to end.
The Long Halloween Part Two arrives on Digital on July 27 and on Blu-ray on August 10.
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