Batman: The Long Halloween (Part 1) Short on Closure

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Batman Long Halloween Pt 1

The latest DC Universe animated epic has been released, this time adapting the Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale graphic novel that took a novice Batman and forced him to forge his detective skills. The connective thread of this adventure was that a killer was taking out people close to mob boss Carmine Falcone, establishing the pattern of commiting the murders on major holidays. The Holiday Killer was a mystery to be solved, and each of the 13 issues that made up the series carried the reader through the year in near real-time, with various Batman villains popping up where appropriate.

Now Director Chris Palmer and Screenwriter Tim Sheridan tackle the job of turning this lengthy epic into an animated film. And to be sure, there's a lot to like in this product. The animation is absolutely gorgeous, the character interactions are spot on, and the voice casting is simply superb. Jensen Ackles as Batman and Troy Baker as Joker are both pure perfection in their roles. Alastair Duncan returns to the role of Alfred Pennyworth, and Naya Rivera voices Selina Kyle -- girlfriend to Bruce Wayne by day, Catwoman by night.

The tension of the piece isn't so much the many murders that Batman is as yet untrained to solve -- a fact pointed out to him by good guys and bad -- but rather the home life of District Attorney Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel). Dent tries to put up a wholesome, brave front, but when he returns home he struggles to help his wife, Gilda (Julie Nathanson) deal with a mysterious depression that we later learn has a bearing on her ability to have children. Given that we know Harvey will become Two-Face in the second part of this story, it's probably a good thing Gilda doesn't get pregnant.

But it's the fact that there is a second part at all that is the drawback to this release. Yes, it's a big story, and it would be difficult to distill it into an 80 minute movie (although not impossible -- WATCHMEN did it). But the story just doesn't feel like it ended at the proper place for an intermission, let along a months-long interruption. It's a fun adventure, it's compelling to look at, and it has a lot of great moments, but I wanted more; I wanted to at least feel fulfilled when the credits rolled. A more patient fan might wait until after the second part is released and then buy them both together, but I've never been accused of being patient.

This Blu-ray release also includes another DC Showcase short, this time featuring their World War II action stars, The Losers, drawn to an island where they encounter the dinosaurs from another set of DC short tales (appearing in WEIRD WAR STORIES), "The War That Time Forgot." It's a bit nihilistic, with a foregone conclusion and, again, lacking a satisfying close. But it's light-years closer to the actual comic book version of the characters than was the forgettable movie of the same name.

3.5 / 5.0