Suffice to say that I haven’t been this entertained by a Batman animated movie since “Gotham by Gaslight.” Chris Palmer’s animated production of the 13-issue limited comic series by writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale has been a masterful, absolutely mesmerizing amalgam of a murder mystery, mob thriller, relationship drama, and action thriller pairing Batman and his unlikely partner Catwoman against increasingly impossible odds.
Months after Batman failed to find the culprit known as “Holiday,” his alter ego Bruce Wayne has been MIA. Unbeknownst to everyone, Bruce has been held hostage by Poison Ivy, mercilessly under her spell as he gradually hands his power over to Carmine Falcone. After being freed by Catwoman, Bruce as Batman goes back in to the line of fire looking for Holiday, and coming across a rising horde of rogues including Mad Hatter, and Scarecrow. Even worse, after Harvey Dent is disfigured by a mob hit man, he embraces his persona as Two Face and unleashes Arkham’s worst on Gotham, making Batman’s job more difficult than ever.
“The Long Halloween – Part Two” begins on a surprisingly low note, picturing Bruce Wayne helpless to the gases of Poison Ivy (Katee Sackhoff in a welcome appearance) and is only able to come to his senses thanks to Catwoman. The late Naya Rivera is very good once again as Catwoman, a woman who slowly embraces her role as heroine over the course of the narrative as she and Bruce realizes he’s hopelessly outmatched. Despite only making small appearances here and there, the Gotham rogues are as deadly as ever, and put Bruce on the edge of death constantly.
The writers take the time to drop us in to the thick of the mystery once again, exploring the back story of Carmine Falcone, his legacy with his father, and how slowly his own family begins to violently fall. Titus Welliver is very good in the role of Falcone, a decidedly evil man faced with a crises of conscience as he realizes the only legacy he’s leaving behind are the corpses of his children. He’s both empathetic and despicable as a man who always seems to wield a knife behind his back, ready to bring down Batman and his other rivals at every turn. Josh Duhamel is also fantastic as Harvey Dent, offering a layered and gut wrenching turn as the tragic Batman ally turned enemy.
“The Long Halloween – Part Two” is different than the first part, but also works beautifully as a second chapter of the saga, and it’s a very dark and dreary crime thriller that doesn’t trade substance for pointless action set pieces. Even for non-Batman fans, “The Long Halloween – Part Two” is a marvelous closer that ties up every plot thread well and delivers on a stellar experience.
The copy we were sent comes with Digital Copy along with the Blu-Ray, and is sadly thin on extras. There’s the fifteen minutes DC Showcase Animated Short: “The Blue Beetle” an ultra-light throwback short — complete with theme song – that feels like a palate cleanser for the darker “The Long Halloween.” While most of the shorts for the DC Showcase feel like truncated movies, this feels like the proof of concept for a potential TV series.
Finally, From the Vault includes two vintage episodes of the seminal Batman: The Animated Series, the excellent two part episode known as “Two-Face” featuring the introduction of the Bruce Timm DCAU incarnation of Two-Face, as played by the fantastic Richard Moll. If you want more Two-Face and haven’t viewed these classic episodes, it’s a highly recommended pair of episodes that act as a Batman adventure, and a genuine character study of Harvey Dent. I imagine Warner will release an uncut combination of the two films as they did with “The Death and Return of Superman,” but if you want to soak in “Part Two” right now, I highly recommend it.