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MOVIE REVIEW: FTN reviews Batman: The Long Halloween Part 1

June 26th, 2021 by Marc Comments

Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One (12)
Starring: Jensen Ackles, Josh Duhamel & Naya Rivera
Directed by: Chris Palmer
Running time: 1hr 25mins

During the holidays, a brutal series of murders strike fear into the city of Gotham. Batman sets out to pursue the serial killer with the support of police officer James Gordon and district attorney Harvey Dent.

I have never made any secret of how the Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale graphic novel Batman: The Long Halloween is my all-time favourite Batman story. Picking up directly after the iconic Frank Miller tale Batman: Year One and leading into Batman: Dark Victory and Catwoman: When in Rome, The Long Halloween is the pinnacle of Batman tales.

Setting up crimefighter Bruce Wayne to also become a great detective and teaching him that he can’t solve and win all the time, this is a formative story that creates a broken Gotham, full of madmen and women and the one man who decided to put himself in their way. It’s utterly fantastic, yet oddly real. It puts Batman in a noir world, the likes of which belong more in a 1930s comic strip moreso than a modern comic book world… and yet every bit of it works.

And it’s largely because of Tim Sale’s ink-black art, stark, exciting and sharp art, that this tale is really rather special. It’s also a sprawling story, pulling in villains from every corner of the rogues gallery, it’s Batman: Hush long before Hush was even a concept.

And it’s a tale I’ve long wanted to see realised on the screen, although how it could be done, I’ve never had a clue, knowing in my heart that if anyone ever tried to adapt it, the story would have to changed, edited, turned around. So an animated adventure is the only way to do this – and a two-parter is a smart choice.

Now, foolishly, I hoped when it was first announced that this might, like DC Animation’s version of Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns, try to bring Sale’s art to life. Sadly it doesn’t try to (aside from some nice nods in the opening credits), rather taking its art cues from recent animated outings Superman: Man of Tomorrow And Justice Society: World War II and immediately, this immediately makes it an inferior product.

However, don’t write it off because of this.

The story manages to adapt Loeb’s tense story, weaving the tapestry of events and characters together nicely, if making it all feel a little more rushed than it does in the comic page… although this is to be expected; when writing a comic the writer can pace himself, the reader can indulge themselves, setting the pace for him or herself, while animated movies have no such luxury.

But, the direction is adequate, if not flashy, but it gets the story done.

Most impressive though is the voice cast with long-time DC fan Jensen Eckles picking up the mantle of the Batman and channeling Kevin Conroy while Troy Baker’s Joker has a lot of Mark Hamill’s influence channeling through its veins. However, it’s Josh Duhamel’s Harvey Dent and Billy Burke’s James Gordon that holds a lot of the plot together with their no-nonsense portrayals; special mention too for the late Naya Rivera whose Catwoman is as sexy as she is smart and she has one heck of a hiss.

Overall, the movie is fine, with the story beats all being there with minimal twists or variations from the source material and, once you get past the fact that it’s never going to look as good as Sale’s gorgeous artwork does, there’s much to be enjoyed. As a jumping-on point for those who can’t be bothered to read the comic, this is a fine way to get the story so long as it doesn’t go down the same road as the Hush movie and totally mangle the end of the tale.

So, overall, it’s not a patch on Loeb and Sale’s iconic and, dare I say, perfect tale, this is a serviceable adaptation that, if nothing else, introduces one of Batman’s finest hours, well, years, to a much wider audience.

4 out of 5 Nerds

Marc is a self-confessed nerd. Ever since seeing Star Wars for the first time around 1979 he’s been an unapologetic fan of the Wars and still believes, with Clone Wars and now Underworld, we are yet to see the best Star Wars. He’s a dad of two who now doesn’t have the time (or money) to collect the amount of toys, comics, movies and books he once did, much to the relief of his long-suffering wife. In the real world he’s a graphic designer. He started Following the Nerd because he was tired of searching a million sites every day for all the best news that he loves and decided to create one place where you can go to get the whole lot. Secretly he longs to be sitting in the cockpit of his YT-1300 Corellian Transport ship with his co-pilot Chewie, roaming the universe, waiting for his next big adventure, but feels just at home watching cartoons with his kids….