Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One (2021) [Blu-Ray/Digital]

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never actually read Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s “The Long Halloween” before, so I was very interested in seeing what the movie would bring fans. Even as a non-Batman fan, “The Long Halloween” is probably one of the best animated Batman movies I’ve seen in a long time. While most of the previous Batman animated movies have zeroed in on non stop action and little story, “The Long Halloween” is very much about Batman being a detective.

It’s a dark time in Gotham City. Held hostage by the powerful Falcone crime family, the city is rife with crime and corruption. Adding to the chaos is the mysterious Holiday killer, who has been targeting the underworld and leaving a trail of blood… and body bags in their wake. Baffled, Batman, Lieutenant Gordon, and D.A. Harvey Dent race against the calendar as it advances toward the next holiday, and the next potential victim.

What’s refreshing is that for once Batman can’t punch his way out of his circumstances. “The Long Halloween” is a very engaging and engrossing crime mystery that centers on Batman using his intellect to foil a large crime spree across Gotham city. The narrative explores the dichotomy between Batman, Lieutenant James Gordon, and D.A. Harvey Dent, all of whom have a stake in this killing spree and Holiday. Gordon’s career is increasingly in jeopardy as “Holiday” amps up their crime spree, while Harvey Dent is obsessed with the case putting his marriage in irreparable damage.

Meanwhile Batman finds himself pushed in to a corner trying to unfold the case, while also preventing himself from becoming obsessed. Much of “Part One” explores the trio’s consistent interplay, and it’s made so much worse when the Joker rears his head. The Joker is threatened by “Holiday” and makes a demented journey to discover their identity, which makes the increasing rate of murders even more stressful for Bruce Wayne. Director Chris Palmer’s work is immaculate, as “The Long Halloween” is subtle and eerily quiet, evoking the atmosphere of a neo-noir most times. There are so many red herrings that are propped for the audience, with even the inclusion of Calendar Man and Solomon Grundy making brief but pivotal appearances.

The voice performances from the seasoned cast are fantastic, especially Jensen Ackles as Bruce/Batman, Josh Duhamel as Dent, and Titus Welliver as Carmine Falcone. Troy Baker is also great returning in to the role of the Joker, and plays very well off of Ackles. The Late Naya Rvera compliments the latter with her take on anti-hero Catwoman. “The Long Halloween, Part One” is a welcome bit of fresh air in the DC/Warner animated library. It’s easily one of the best of its kind, up there with “Mask of the Phantasm” and “Year One.” I eagerly await the completion of the saga. 

The new release comes with a Blu-Ray and Digital Copy for the consumer. On the disc (also in 4K), there’s the DC Animated Short “The Losers,” a fun sixteen minute adaptation set in during World War II, and based on the comic series created by Robert Kanigher (later re-launched as a Vertigo title in 2004). It follows a diverse group of WWII outcasts (Captain Storm, Henry “Mile-a-Minute” Jones, Gunner, Sarge, Pooch, Johnny Cloud, and Chinese Special Agent Fan Long) as they explore an uncharted South Pacific island inhabited by prehistoric beasts in search of a few missing scientists.

There’s the nine minutes Sneak Peek of “Batman: The Long Halloween – Part Two” which preview of the story’s second half (slated for digital release on 7/26 and Blu-ray on 8/10), and is comprised of still images, concept artwork, and interviews with a few key members of the voice cast and crew. This follow-up promises to be a more adult R rating, as opposed to part one. There’s the old Preview of “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Part One” the twelve minutes featurette from 2017 that was originally included on “Batman and Harley Quinn.”

Its blatant filler. There’s even more filler with a preview of “Batman: Gotham by Gaslight.” Warner couldn’t have sprung for a short documentary about the original graphic mini-series, or profiles of all the featured Batman villains in the film? Hell, how about a short remembrance of actress Naya Rivera? That’s a damn shame. Finally, there’s “From the Vault,” two vintage episodes of the iconic “Batman: The Animated Series” which includes “Christmas With The Joker,” and “It’s Never Too Late.”