Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two review
All Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two had to do was stay within the range of quality of the first installment to be one of the best Warner Bros. Animation adaptations of an acclaimed DC comics story. That wasn’t enough for the creators of this adaptation. This second chapter is just as strong, if not better as the first, which easily makes The Long Halloween one of the best DC films in both animated and live action.
At the end of the first film, Bruce Wayne (Jensen Ackles) was under the influence of Poison Ivy (Katee Sackhoff, The Flash). This places Gotham at further risk since Wayne’s absence also sidelines Batman while The Holiday Killer is still on the loose.
Batman’s allies Capt. Gordon (Billy Burke) and DA Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel) are worried and remain a step behind Holiday as they keep gunning down any and all associates of mob boss Roman Falcone (Titus Welliver).
With the aid of Catwoman (Naya Rivera), Bruce is freed and resumes his investigation into Holiday’s identity. Even as it points closer and close to his friend, Harvey. The pressures of his job and going above and beyond to help bring justice to Gotham is causing strife with his wife, Gilda (Julie Nathanson).
Friendship, loyalty, family, justice and revenge were key themes in writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale’s Long Halloween comic story. That carries over to the film as well.
These emotions are conveyed expertly by the amazing voice cast. Ackles, Burke and Duhamel are the core of the film and they beautifully capture the splintering of the Batman/Gordon/Dent dynamic. Rivera, Nathanson and Welliver are also important cast members and make their characters feel fully developed.
Director Chris Palmer does an incredible job of staging the tension creating unnerving moments that deliver actual jump scares and other surprises. The action scenes are well imagined and constructed and Palmer keeps them fresh without feeling repetitive or disorienting.
A big key to the fight variety is the inclusion of numerous Batman Rogues from Scarecrow (Robin Atkins Downes), Mad Hatter (John DiMaggio), Solomon Grundy (Fred Tatasciore) and The Joker (Troy Baker)
One of the big challenges for screenwriter Tim Sheridan is avoiding scenes that make viewers think he’s “copying” The Dark Knight. Christopher Nolan said The Long Halloween was a key influence on The Dark Knight. Give Long Halloween a read (or re-read) and it’s impressive how many moments are brought to the big screen in The Dark Knight. Sheridan wisely doesn’t ignore those moments to dodge comparisons and just provides an altered take on them.
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The Long Halloween makes a strong case that deeply revered DC stories are justified in getting two installments. Sure, the creators could have crammed and rushed to get all the major elements into one 80-minute presentation, but it would have lacked depth.
This two film format allows the story to unfold more naturally and give proper importance to character development.
A longer run time allows for longer action scenes, which provides the opportunity to make Batman’s villains a threat. Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, Penguin, Poison Ivy and The Joker aren’t one punch and they’re down nuisances. Palmer makes them extremely formidable, which makes Batman and Catwoman have to work that much harder to beat them.
In most comic book adaptations, the screenwriters switch up some things so the comic book readers can be surprised and not know every beat of the film. There’s been some exceptions, but traditionally that hasn’t been the most successful strategy.
The changes either drastically ruin the film or add unwelcome changes. With Long Halloween Part 2, the changes from the source material arguably makes for a better payoff.
It’s impressive how long Sheridan keeps Holiday’s identity a viable mystery and the reveal with an absolutely crushing motive puts the film in a new context.
After the first installment, I asked Sheridan on Twitter about the chances of adapting Long Halloween’s sequel Dark Victory, which incorporates Dick Grayson and Robin in the mix. His response was encouraging:
Thank you! Buckle up for Part 2!! As for DV…that's so far above and outside my pay grade, but my personal view on how these things work is that if enough people pick up copies of TLH 1 & 2, lots of things become possible…
— Tim Sheridan 🏳️🌈 (@iamtimsheridan) June 18, 2021
Batman The Long Halloween Part 2 is an astonishing achievement and paired with the first installment makes for the new standard for DC Comics adaptations.
Rating: 10 out of 10
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Animation
Pre-order Batman The Long Halloween, Part Two available on Aug. 10 on Amazon.