As the first of a two-part film, Batman: The Long Halloween starts off on a high note.
Batman: The Long Halloween Part One (2021) Review By Mark McPherson
Published on November 5, 2021
Rating 4 /5
Batman is a character who is perhaps most compelling when tackling mysteries. Though his origins are always a great source of pathos with how he is driven to fight crime, there’s a lot of problems with trying to go deeper on that concept of vigilantism. The Long Halloween is the more palatable of Batman stories that do a solid job placing the character in a dark and intriguing tale of murder and deception.
Gotham City has a serial killer on the loose. Acting with guns that are silenced with rubber nipples, the mysterious assassin is targeting other various top-tier criminals. The killer only strikes on holidays. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, etc. Every holiday brings with it another murder. And it all starts on Halloween with the murder of Johnny Viti and a jack-o’-lantern left at the scene. It’ll take the combined efforts of Batman, Police Commissioner Gordon, and District Attorney Harvey Dent to solve this crime wave.
The gangsters targeted are from the Falcone crime family. Bruce Wayne finds himself intrigued by these murders considering the dealings that Bruce’s father had with the family. Though Bruce tried to sever the corrupted ties that were built by dad, it has not been an easy road as there’s many conflicts between them. That’s interesting enough but, if that didn’t make Batman more compelling, there’s the added bonus of throwing Catwoman into the mix for a little romance.
The story becomes more interesting for the personal lives of those involved. Gordon is trying to raise his kids in such a violent city and does his best to maintain their innocence while being a good husband. It’s not an easy job balancing work and home, especially with such a long-term killer keeping the police busy. Harvey Dent, however, has a relationship with his wife Gilda that only grows ever more strained as he continues the case. The seeds for his transformation into becoming Two-Face are planted and it’s interesting watching how this character comes about more through his mental state than a physical transformation.
It should come as no surprise to those familiar with the DC Comics animated movies but the voice cast chosen is pretty stellar. Jensen Ackles has a perfectly refined performance as a contemplative yet firm Batman. Josh Duhamel gives Harvey Dent a certain believable sense of grit for a frustrated man who has grown weary of law. Billy Burke’s Gordon is spot on and Naya Rivera’s Catwoman is the right level of seductive. Troy Baker once more delivers his best Joker that fans of the classic Mark Hamil interpretation will enjoy his performance. Much kudos needs to be given to David Dastmalchian's flawless performance as Calendar Man, giving the silly character a Hannibal Lecter vibe with his quiet creepiness in his many talks with Batman.
The animation looks just as robust as any other DC Comics film but the editing is strong as well. The sleight of hand for manipulating the audience into believing Harvey has already turned into Two Face is clever. The passage of time cuts at just the right moments with unobtrusive typography. The shots are also framed compelling where even something as stationary as Calendar Man’s prison cell, wallpapered with calendar dates, is incredibly intense for featuring no music and uncomfortable close-ups of the villain’s clean complexion.
As the first of a two-part film, Batman: The Long Halloween starts off on a high note. It has more than enough time to develop the characters and let the mystery boil. There's even time for a clever jab by Alfred about how it’s kinda hypocritical for Batman to be slandering Halloween.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.