Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two, 2021.
Directed by Chris Palmer.
Featuring the voice talents of Jensen Ackles, Naya Rivera, Josh Duhamel, Billy Burke, Titus Welliver, Julie Nathanson, Troy Baker, David Dastmalchian, Alastair Duncan, Katee Sackhoff, Robin Atkin Downes, John DiMaggio, Fred Tatasciore, Laila Berzins, Jim Pirri and Amy Landecker.
Inspired by the iconic mid-1990s DC story from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two continues as the Holiday Killer is still at large and, with Bruce Wayne under the spell of the venomous Poison Ivy, Batman is nowhere to be found. Liberated by an unlikely ally, Bruce quickly uncovers the real culprit: Poison Ivy’s employer Carmine Falcone. The Roman, his ranks decimated by Holiday and his business spinning out of control, has been forced to bring on less desirable partners – Gotham City’s rogues’ gallery. In the meantime, Harvey Dent is confronting battles on two fronts: attempting to end the mob war while also dealing with a strained marriage. And, after an attack that leaves Harvey hideously disfigured, the District Attorney unleashes the duality of his psyche that he’s strived his entire life to suppress. Now, as Two-Face, Dent decides to take the law into his own hands and deliver judgment to those who’ve wronged him, his family and all of Gotham. Ultimately, the Dark Knight must put together the tragic pieces that converged to create Two-Face, the Holiday Killer, Batman and Gotham City itself.
Batman’s biggest mystery comes to a grand conclusion with Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two, the second half of the highly anticipated adaptation of one of the most groundbreaking graphic novels ever made. After Part One impressed a great degree with its release a few weeks ago, director Chris Palmer, writer Tim Sheridan and the animation team stick the landing as Part Two continues the dark tale with plenty of intrigue, character introspection and stellar animation as the case of the Holiday Killer unravels.
Whereas Part One dealt largely with Batman, Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent trying to solve Holiday’s identity and take down mob boss Carmine ‘The Roman’ Falcone, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two continues that same story, but throws in the added wrinkle for Batman as more of Gotham City’s villains come into play as control of the city slowly slips from the mob into the hands of the rogues gallery. All the while Harvey is dealing with personal crises, both within his marriage and his mind, as his tragic destiny takes further shape.
Batman: The Long Halloween is first and foremost a detective story. While the addition of many of Batman’s enemies may take a little away from the mystery, it still remains solely focused on Holiday and how their presence affects everyone in Gotham. Holiday’s murderous streak forces Carmine to make alliances he wouldn’t normally make and the personal toll it takes on Batman and Harvey in particular has a profound affect on their lives. Batman is still struggling to become a better detective worthy of Gotham City and Harvey’s drive to bring down the Falcone crime empire takes him to some desperate lengths. It all ties together very well as the mystery escalates and fundamentally changes Gotham City forever upon its conclusion.
The character development on display makes the story even stronger as it is given arguably more emphasis than the central mystery. As mentioned, Batman is working on his deductive skills as he’s learnt the hard way not all cases can be solved with brute force and stringing criminals up for the police, but his life as Bruce Wayne also has its share of problems thanks to Poison Ivy as well as other personal issues. Part of Bruce/Batman’s arc in the film deals with the legacy left behind by his parents and upholding their vision for Gotham. In fact, legacy is a fairly significant theme in Part Two as Batman not only works to keep the Wayne legacy intact in some way, but to also wipe away the Falcone legacy while Carmine seeks to strengthen it and Harvey wrestles with demons from his past. Jensen Ackles conveys the weight of Bruce’s mission quite well and shows a more human side to Batman as he deals with these struggles while still appearing determined and intimidating as the Dark Knight.
Catwoman also has personal stakes in the story’s outcome as she gets much more involved in this half than the first. There is a legacy she is also concerned with and she displays an emotional and vulnerable side that was only teased previously. Her relationship with Batman is very much in keeping with the comics and Naya Rivera does a tremendous job as Catwomam. She captures Catwoman’s spirit and femme fatale qualities very well, leaving you unsure what her motivations are or what she’ll do next. The moments when Catwoman drops her guard are some of Rivera’s best in both films, serving as a bittersweet reminder of how great a Catwoman/Selina Kyle she is and that we’ll never hear another performance with her in the role due to her tragic passing.
Billy Burke once again shines as Gordon, balancing the gruff detective act with the personable friend, ally and family man together in one. Josh Duhamel gets to delve deeper into Harvey as he plays less of the lawful straightman and more of the troubled, vengeful soon-to-be criminal, especially after a certain accident befalls him. Given that these two films built up to that event, Duhamel’s performance does not disappoint. Titus Welliver shows off even more of Carmine’s villainy as he relishes the power he holds over Gotham and Julie Nathanson taps more into the tragedy of Gilda Dent as she increasingly becomes second in Harvey’s life. Newcomers to Part Two include Katee Sackhoff as Poison Ivy, Robin Atkins Downes as Scarecrow, John DiMaggio as Mad Hatter and Laila Berzins as Sofia Falcone. Each one of them does well with their parts, particularly Downes as he provides a very creepy and sinister personality to Scarecrow.
The animation is smooth and slick with a lot of detail in the movements during the fight sequences. The characters are energetic and the choreography can be fairly complex during certain sequences, such as when Catwoman dodges Poison Ivy’s vine attacks or the climax which acts as a free for all between much of the cast. One particular sequence is striking for its nightmarish colour as Scarecrow’s hallucinogenic gas is given some of the best animated treatment its ever received. When it comes to the emotional moments, though, the film really nails it as the characters expressions are detailed and emotive, perfectly matching the vocal performances of the cast. With the designs, colour and focus on the characters, it is definitely one of the best looking DC animated films.
Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two serves as a great continuation and conclusion to this adaptation. The film doesn’t shy away from the complexity of the story as it focuses on the central mystery and the development of its characters. The cast led by Ackles, Rivera and Duhamel are all great with their performances and the examination of how these characters are defined both by Gotham City and the Falcone crime family provides interesting context to who they are and will become. The rich visuals make it very entertaining to watch and even with some changes to the story, most Batman fans will be happy with how well the film adapts Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s book. Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two is a great Batman experience and combined with Part One makes it one of the best Batman films made, live-action films included.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.