• Release Date: 21/06/2021
  • Cast: Jensen Ackles, Troy Baker, Josh Duhamel, Billy Burke
  • Director: Chris Palmer 

Rating: 3.5/5 (3.5 out of 5 Stars)

I love the DC animated rendering of graphic novels and while they are not all equally good, most of them are good enough to incite true emotions and drama. My favorite of the lot has been The Dark Knight Returns films. One of the key reasons why these animated features turned out so good were the stories that were based on. The fact that the animation and the voice talents were rendered phenomenally well only added to their charm and ensured that the films were enjoyable and aesthetically rewarding at the same time. The Long Halloween Part One is just as good as the Dark Knight Returns. I will reserve my reverence for the second part of the film to come out before I shower the films with all the praise and love at my disposal. However, based on what I saw in the first part of the film, I was mighty impressed.

Gotham city is on the verge of falling prey to the criminal underworld ruled by Carmine Falcone. While Falcone has a challenger in Sal Maroni, his exponential monetary growth and control over the politics and centers of power in the city gives him unprecedented clout and control over the city. The arrival of the new District Attorney, Harvey Dent and the law enforcement’s consistent efforts to cut down on crimes led by the towering commissioner Gordon adds a much needed spunk to the efforts of bringing down Falcone. Dent is close to nailing Falcone when he is able to convince a family member of Falcone to testify against him but unfortunately, the family member is gunned down a night before he could testify. This was the night of the Halloween. Batman is summoned by Gordon and Dent to investigate the killing. Soon the trio realizes that they might just have a serial killer on the loose that kills only on holidays.

While the above-mentioned story forms the basic plot point of the film, there are multiple parallel tracks running in the narrative that adds ambiguity and layers to the central story and makes it a lot more intriguing. As Batman pursues the criminals and tries to figure out who the serial killer might be, he is aided by Selina Kyle aka Catwoman. She also leads him to the stash of the accumulated wealth of Falcone that they then decide to burn. She seems to be doing it all to help clean the city but the romantic undercurrents between the two cannot be ignored. The nefarious Joker escapes from Arkham yet again. This time he wants to kill the holiday killer even though he doesn’t have any idea of who the man might. His idea of killing him is by gassing the entire Gotham city or atleast half of it. Batman has to go out of his way to stop him before he can resume his investigation into the holiday killer.

The Falcone family has Carmine Falcone at its helm but the next in line is Alberto who is oxford educated and is in many ways in loggerheads with Carmine. He loved a girl and wanted to marry her but his father stopped the union and inflicted horrible atrocities on the girl to get her out of his son’s life. Alberto is often abused and looked down upon by his father and that fills him up with a simmering rage and building hatred for his father and the family as a whole. He wants to take over the reign of the family but on being insulted repeatedly, he decides to do what he deems fit. Harvey Dent is hell-bent on saving Gotham but his family life and his relationship with his wife Gilda is tattered because of a plethora of reasons. He is also someone who is growing increasingly conflicted about what he does and how he does it. There comes a time when he reaches a point wherein he questions his own sanity and truly believes in the existence of another individual within his own self. We know which way he is headed and that just fills us up with the fear of “when” and “how”. With all this and more The Long Halloween Part one keeps the viewer intrigued and transfixed and then by the end of it all, sets them up for what is looking set to be a great part two.

The fact that I was just referring to animated and fictional characters as real and men and women proves how well Chris Palmer envisioned and executed the film. I forgot within minutes of the film’s beginning that I was infact watching an animated film. The voice talents have a lot to do with that. While I still believe that Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill will forever remain the best Batman and Joker voice rendition, Jensen Ackles did a pretty good job with the character of Batman here. He wonderfully brought out the inherent “Dadagiri” of the character through his subtle voice modulations and tweaks. There were moments when the inner workings of the man were exposed only through the pitch of his voice. Even as Bruce Wayne, Ackles was able to bring a lot of charm and confidence to the character.

Troy Baker as the Joker is apt. While he will never be able to outgun the fond memories of Mark Hamill and his stupendous voice work as Gotham’s Prince of Crime, Baker doesn’t let his rendition be anything less than what could be expected of a character like the Joker. While the dialogue and writing for the character is spot on, the voice modulations and subtle nuances brought in by Baker ensures that the Joker continues to remain one of the most well rounded off and realized villains in animated film history. I really enjoyed Josh Duhamel’s work as Harvey Dent. He feels like a man who is on the edge and is one push away from falling of it. That is something that no animation can realize unless the voice acting is spot on. Duhamel does a splendid job with the character and it will be interesting to see how he metamorphs into the psychotic Two-Face in the next installment. 

I had a great time with Batman: The Long Halloween Part One. The film has a solid source material that ensured that its narrative was ravishing and was organically humane and intriguing. The voice talents were superb and the realization of the action from the panels of the comics to lucid visuals was done with conviction and with a tip of the hat to the style that was made popular by the Batman animated series of the 1990s. While some of the animation felt a little robotic at times, it was certainly a step in the right direction in terms of the visual rendering of the DC Batman animated films. I am pumped for the second installment of the film and I believe that that will be the case with anyone who watches this film with an open mind and accepts it for what it is.

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