Reviews | Written by Joel Harley 09/08/2021

BATMAN – THE LONG HALLOWEEN, PART TWO

The second half of DC and WB’s animated Long Halloween adaptation is here and, with it, all the villains. The structure of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Batman epic puts the best bad guys at the back, with the story devolving into madness as the costumed crazies take over. With the birth of Two-Face, and colourful monsters such as the Joker and Scarecrow running riot, the Falcones and Maronis of the world are increasingly out of their depth. As is Batman himself.

Part Two of this adaptation opens with Bruce Wayne (Jensen Ackles) under the thrall of Poison Ivy (Katee Sackhoff), duped into signing over his assets to Gotham’s gangster overlords. With Ivy, Scarecrow, and the Mad Hatter all vying for Batman’s attention, it’ll be a wonder if there’s any time left to stop the Holiday Killer before he (?) strikes again. Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel), meanwhile, struggles with his own psychosis as his war on organized crime begins to take its toll.

As with the first half of the story, there’s a lot of ground to cover. The characters benefit greatly from the breathing room a two-parter grants them. Harvey’s fall from grace still feels slightly rushed, but not nearly as much as it did in, say, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Anyone who has seen Nolan’s trilogy or The Animated Series will find themselves in familiar territory here, but The Long Halloween does it with just enough style and panache to make the return journey feel worthwhile.

If Part One felt like Dent’s story, then Part Two finally lets us get to know Jensen Ackles’s Batman. While his growly, dull Batman voice is nothing special, Ackles does a good Bruce Wayne, tapping into a wounded vulnerability which brings some much-needed depth to the character. Like the rest of the cast, he’s outclassed by Duhamel, but at least gets some great Scarecrow-influenced nightmare sequences to try and redress the balance. A shout out, too, to the Mad Hatter (John DiMaggio), here re-imagined with a hilarious cockney accent.

But for all its villains, The Long Halloween is perhaps too over-stuffed for its own good. The compelling murder mystery becomes diluted by constant cameos, too many heroes and a Two-Face origins story. There’s not enough time for Bruce and Selina’s romance, the collapse of Harvey and Gilda’s marriage, nor the intricacies of Holiday’s crimes. There's certainly not enough of Sofia Falcone (Laila Berzins), stealing the show, just as she did in the books.

This is a valiant attempt at bringing one of the most iconic Batman books to life; showcasing the best of Batman's rogues gallery, juggling multiple storylines. For the most part, it succeeds in its efforts. This tricksy, sprawling adaptation is a treat; The Long Halloween done justice.

Out now on Digital Download, DVD, and Blu-ray