In the previous review of Batman: The Long Halloween Part 1, I looked at the voice acting and animation, and concluded with looking forward to part 2. Everything I said in the review for part 1 carries over to the second installment of this milestone story in Batman's history, aptly named Batman: The Long Halloween Part 2. The voice acting is well done, the animation is beautiful to look at, and it remains a fairly mature work.
So with part 2 released, it's time to look at the story - which I will discuss as a whole, considering both parts.
There are 3 general classes of mystery story. The "fair play whodonnit" (the audience knows as much as the detective - see if you can solve it by the time they do), the "clueless mystery" (no possible way for the audience to guess), and the "reverse whodonnit" (the audience knows the crime's details - how will the detective ever solve it?).
This story seems to lean more in the "clueless" category, although if you apply "meta" knowledge - such as noting which characters have speaking parts and knowing which characters typically are in Batman lore - you can swiftly deduce who is the guilty party. (Productions can't usually afford to pay that many extras to act as red herrings.)
In situations like that, the question then becomes how worthwhile is the journey?
It's solid. On the basics and fundamentals of storytelling, the movie passes with flying colors.
By far, I think the biggest flaw is that the movie doesn't quite reach the depths that it could. To use one example, with the Holiday Killer executing people related to Gotham's two major crime families, there's never a moment or discussion over the nature of justice and the process for it. What makes Batman's vigilantism different from the Holiday Killer? Why does society institute the procedures it does? There's a lot of rich and deep themes and ideas that can be explored here and I'm at times disappointed the story doesn't try tapping into any of them. The final revelation of it all doesn't hit as hard as I think it should have because the story doesn't reach for those larger themes and give us a sense of stakes in the outcome. What was won and what was lost?
The tale is definitely supposed to be a kind of "origin" story for Batman becoming the World's Greatest Detective, though I feel we could have gotten a bit more about his drive towards this character change. There are a few scenes with entertaining clashes between Batman and some of his supervillains that end up being superfluous to the larger story and I feel we could have used that time to better examine his character.
There are also a few scenes where I think Jensen could have put a bit more emotion into the line delivery - though in this I blame the director more because I've watched Supernatural and I know Jensen can absolutely put the emotion behind his voice when he needs to.
If it sounds like I'm nitpicking... you're right. The two movies are good Batman films. Far from the worst we've ever had, but also not quite reaching the heights of some of the best Batman films that have ever been. It's not quite one of the films I would recommend people seek out to watch. However, it's definitely worth a rental and worth a purchase for the more dedicated fans (of Batman or Jensen) out there.
Image courtesy of CBR.com.
I do hope we get to see hear Jensen get more voice work in the future and that the writing and direction will give him a chance to give a memorable performance.
Please share below your thought about the movie!
Illustrated by Nightsky
Watch Jensen, Troy, several other members of the Batman cast, and the series' writer talk about their roles and give behind the scenes details of how they all came together to make this gem! You can see it all in Nightsky's Recap of the Batman: The Long Halloween Part 2 San Diego Comic-Con panel.
If you enjoy animation, don't miss Nate's Reviews of Supernatural's Graphic Novels and Companion Books and Lilah Kane's Reviews of Supernatural's Anime series!