Blu-Ray Review
Batman: The Long Halloween - Part Two

In "Batman: The Long Halloween - Part Two," Carmine Falcone makes the fatal error of trying to rig the Long Halloween in his favor by allying with Batman's Rogues Gallery while the Holiday Killer continues his or her seasonal murder spree unopposed. With Bruce Wayne under the thrall of Poison Ivy, Catwoman takes a greater role despite Batman's opposition to a partnership. Harvey Dent finds himself as the prime suspect as Two-Face begins to resurface and his transformation is completed by Sal Maroni's misguided plans. Failing to solve the case, Batman takes a bitter pill and learns the hard lesson that he, Jim Gordon and the few good people of Gotham are locked in a forever war for the soul of the city. The creative crew includes director Chris Palmer, screenwriter Tim Sheridan, producers Jim Krieg and Kimberly S. Moreau, and supervising producer Butch Lukic.

"Batman: The Long Halloween - Part Two" adapts the final nine issues of the comic book series. A rather tall order suffice to say. Tim Sheridan, Jim Krieg, and Butch Lukic, I think, correctly took those nine issues, streamlined them into an 87 minute movie that stays on task and doesn't stumble in pacing. The post title montage sequence does the heavy lifting of summarizing the comics that aren't adapted in the form of a moving calendar and montage shots of Holiday Killer's murders that we don't see in full detail. Where Part One started on a feeling of hope with the alliance of Batman, Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent, Part Two ends on a bittersweet, sullen note with Batman unable to stop the Holiday Killer yet hope still lingers in the form of some surprising trick or treaters stopping at Wayne Manor.

The fifth issue of the Long Halloween comic is one of the parts omitted from the movie but aspects of it survive into the adaption. Harvey Dent and Jim Gordon's visit to Wayne Manor comes after Catwoman liberates Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth from Poison Ivy, Carmine Falcone passes Alberto's tombstone on the way to meet his hired gun, Sal Maroni's allies being victims on Valentine's Day is briefly seen in the post title montage, and the possessive embrace between Ivy and Wayne appears after he signs an asset transfer.

The sixth issue was also largely left out of the movie aside from the St. Patrick's Day murder scene appearing in the post title montage and the battle between Catwoman against the brainwashed Bruce and Poison Ivy in Wayne Manor being reworked from a dinner to a more definitive battle in the study. Sofia Falcone's release is cut down to her arriving at Carmine's building.

The seventh issue is omitted and aspects of the eighth issue are used. Scarecrow's escape and mention of his mother are reworked into a moderate sequence ending with Batman being injected with fear toxin and ending up in Crime Alley hallucinating about his parents' murder. Chong's murder is skipped over and starts with the crime scene already being processed.

The ninth issue is mostly omitted but two scenes are kept and expanded on, the flashback in which Thomas Wayne saves Carmine Falcone's life on Vincent's behest is extended to show the origin of the coin Batman later gives to Dent for a full circle moment. Sal Maroni's visit to his father Luigi is preserved. Sofia's necktie present comes up when she first arrives in the movie but never given to Carmine. Slightly tweaked, Sal Maroni comes to Dent's office with a proposal to take down Falcone.

The tenth issue is omitted but a new version of the Independence day murder is in the movie. The eleventh issue is mostly omitted except for the Maroni trail and Carmine's birthday party are in the movie but not as parallel events. Carla's murder is also changed to occur in Carmine's elevator.

The twelfth issue is mostly preserved in the movie except Batman discovers the gun in the Dent house's basement and Maroni's transfer differs with it being attacked by Grundy and Two-Face realizing who the Holiday Killer is (not Alberto in this case since he was horrifically shredded by those yacht propellers in Part One). Likewise, the thirteenth issue is mostly preserved with the obvious part with Alberto removed, the battle with Two-Face concludes in Carmine's office, and Gilda's confession scene is reworked.

One of the changes to the source material that I agreed with was giving Catwoman closure. In the comics, she didn't give Batman any explanation and ran off (and left the comic if I remember right) then her arc concludes in other comics. Whereas in the movie, Catwoman pretty much lays it out for Batman why she was so invested in Carmine Falcone then gets the name of her supposed biological mother. I wasn't too crazy about Bruce and Selina hanging out at Wayne Manor in their robes but it fits the narrative of the Part One starting with Bruce avoiding her calls and Batman learning to accept the help of allies in what will be a long war on crime. In addition, the change is all the more welcome because those comics Catwoman's story continued in? One in particular called "Catwoman: When in Rome" was going to be an animated short included in Part Two's special features but was canceled due to time and budget constraints. Overall, I enjoyed that a good portion of this movie was focused on Catwoman and she had a great run. It was a great contrast and companion to her increasing appearances in recent animation like "Batman: Gotham By Gaslight" and "Batman: Hush."

Part Two was also equally a Harvey Dent movie. There was a sufficient amount of beats taking us through his descent. From hearing Two-Face during Independence Day. To Two-Face talking repeatedly to Dent during the court trial. The fight with the two hitmen. Embracing rebirth with Solomon Grundy. Realizing who the Holiday Killer was. The confrontation with Carmine Falcone. The final rooftop meeting atop GCPD headquarters. Ending on "Gilda." Rewatching Part One with Part Two even adds to to it and the hints are there. When Dent angrily reacts to Catwoman's presence in the Falcone warehouse. Or when Gordon finds Dent outside the Falcone building after he escaped the hospital and being totally unaware he was talking to Two-Face. I also think one of the more interesting aspects of the story was that it's not a typical Two-Face taking over, becoming a full blown supervillain, and going on a crime spree. In his own demented way, he was Dent's Mr. Hyde who aided him when he needed it and ending the Long Halloween.

Like with Part One, it is no surprise this is not a 1:1 adaptation like "Batman: Year One" was. Whereas "Batman The Long Halloween - Part One" adapted four issues, Part Two had the tougher task of adapting the remaining nine issues. The post title montage does the dirty work of time skipping past the first few months Bruce is under Poison Ivy's thrall to his rescue from Catwoman. Notably, the April Fool's Day segment with Riddler was not adapted. Unfortunately, it was going to be a short in the special features but due to time and money constraints it wasn't produced. Ultimately, Sheridan did the right thing in keeping Part Two centered on the main through line of Dent's spiral and rebirth as Two-Face, the climax with Carmine Falcone, and Gilda's confession. The revelation of Holiday Killer's identity was muddled to say the least in the comic, but in the movie, Sheridan fine tuned it and played it a lot more straight. Yes, the theme of "family" being targeted, Gilda's inability to have children, the baby bottle nipple used as a suppressor, and tension with Dent all pointed at Gilda since Part One. Gilda was the killer but Two-Face figured it out and took the fall for her out of love. However, the rather masculine character design and animation of the Holiday Killer got in the way of this final scene more so than it did for say Andrea Beaumont and Phantasm in "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm." In that movie, the visuals were better executed. Unless Gilda also studied facial prosthetic work at Oxford... Bottom line, the reveal wasn't cleanly executed overall. And maybe that was the intent.

The only other critique I have with Part Two is we're not in a traditional whodunit mystery. We're on the early years of Batman's war on crime when he wasn't a master detective. Part Two doesn't take us on an investigation with a long list of red herrings to exonerate scene to scene. Instead of an edge of your seat mystery, it becomes less about who the Holiday Killer is and more of what the Holiday Killer represented to each character. To Harvey Dent/Two-Face, someone to protect. To Batman, a preview of what he's up against. The consequences that come from not solving a case. A culprit that was in plain sight completely flew under the radar of everyone until it was too late. Batman listens to Gilda's confession. She's standing right in front of him with her costume and weapons destroyed, posing no physical threat at all, and he's got no evidence to give Gordon that would lead to her arrest. I suppose he could have had a wire and she did murder a lot of people, but the point was Batman ended up in a no-win, no-lose situation. To which he even asks Jim and Dent if they won and will it matter. To Carmine, the beginning of the end. Then at the end, we get a deluge of answers from the real killer. The answers weren't exactly laid out either. Gilda did say she loved Alberto Falcone yet shot him dead and upon some brooding during the end credits, I realized she wanted justice against the whole Falcone family for the traumatic abortion and infertility that resulted, even Alberto who was powerless to prevent it from happening to her. Whereas in the comic, it was more about her wanted to help Dent which became more of Two-Face's role in the movie.

I'm on the fence about end credits teaser. Heading into this movie two-parter, there was the lingering question of will it be a stand alone or will it be part of the new continuity of movies under the supervision of Butch Lukic? Well, the teaser answers that and includes the debut of a superhero I've been waiting to see again in an animated movie. On the other hand, in just the context of the two parter, it comes off shoehorned and overindulgent. It should have ended on Bruce and Selina watching Alfred hand out treats to the costumed boy. However, as of the time of this review, the 2022 slate of movies is unknown and a complete assessment of the teaser can't be made. How will this teaser pay off? We'll see.

Part Two expands on an already amazing voice cast. Jensen Ackles's take on Bruce Wayne and Batman felt even more polished, found the voice, and it felt like he was in the zone and blazed right down the highway. The late Naya Rivera's Catwoman continues to be a stand out performance. Josh Duhamel really did his R&D in crafting a voice for Two-Face. In interviews being published at the time of the movie's digital release, Duhamel talked about working with voice director Wes Gleason and created a voice that sounded like someone whose vocal cords were heavily damaged. The result is a voice that matches the scar. Perhaps the choice was to play it subtle, but compared to Part One, Titus Welliver's Carmine Falcone in Part Two feels a lot of weary and old, matching the character's denial of his inevitable end. David Dastmalchian continued to make every moment as Calendar Man a mile for an inch and so entertaining. Alastair Duncan's Alfred has a lot of great stoic moments and quips like sending off Gordon and Dent or his final scene in the movie. Julie Nathanson's Gilda Dent was astounding, keeping the demure the whole two movies for the most part, yet you could feel, hear, and see the tidal wave of emotion under the surface. Laila Berzins was actually how I imagined Sofia's voice in my head. I admit I wasn't familiar with Berzins' work aside from Milluki Zoldyck from "HunterxHunter" but she was a perfect casting for Sofia. For Katee Sackhoff, it was fun to see how she voiced Poison Ivy sultry (but not too sultry) in "real-time" vs. how she spoke in that weird mental plane with the calming yet subtle hypnotic tone.

The Long Halloween - Part Two bucks the trend from past releases and returns to being animated by just one overseas studio. In this case, Part Two was animated by Japan's The Answer Studio. Upon close study, one will see a better degree of consistency from scene to scene vs. Part One had a lot of notable instances of character models looking different when another studio apparently took over especially with Catwoman. Again, the black and white gilded city design for Gotham was appropriate and the faux hand painted background art of old clinches the dark deco/crime noir sensibility. However, there were more wide range of color and lighting in this part like the booths on the boardwalk during Independence Day, the different seasons at Wayne Manor, or Luigi Maroni's estate. Even the flashback seems to shift to a different color palette to reflect that it takes place in the past. The shadow play, like Part One, takes a great deal of influence from noir and was beautifully done in many scenes like Sal Maroni's visit to his father. The action scenes match the gritty feel of the city and the sound effects accentuate some of the beatdowns like the Independence Day fight or in the final battle when the gun is used as a blunt object.

Naturally in Part Two, Jon Suzuki was also the supervising character designer and the character design team refined the concept art of Otto Schmidt with a number of additional new characters. Namely, we get to see Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, and Penguin suited up after their cameos in Part One and more of the Falcone and Maroni crime families. The real props goes to how creepy yet on an entirely different spectrum two new characters were, the hired gun killed on Independence Day and of course, Two-Face. You definitely tell the team took extra care and attention to detail with their take on Two-Face.

The sneak peek previews the next movie in the DC Universe line, "Injustice," out this fall. The preview is 7 minutes and 48 seconds and features finished animation, animatics, comic book panels, and comments from cast and crew. Based on the video game series of the same name, members of the production crew including writer Ernie Altbacker and producer Rick Morales and actors like Justin Hartley preview and set up the story of Superman going over the edge after the tragic death of Lois Lane engineered by the Joker and the ripple effects it has on his allies in the Justice League, namely Batman and Wonder Woman. But it's not all mature audiences fan fare, there are hints of some comedic elements also being adapted like with Plastic Man.

The DC Showcase short paired with this movie is "Blue Beetle," one of the more lighthearted costumed superheroes of the DC Universe. A legacy character, Ted Kord is the second person to hold the title of Blue Beetle and while lacking superpowers like Batman, makes up for it in spades with his genius intellect and engineering skills. Joining Beetle are three other superheroes, Captain Atom, Nightshade, and the Question, all four originating from Charlton Comics before they migrated to DC. To be brief, all one has to know is Captain Atom has atomic powers, Nightshade can teleport through shadows, and The Question is the eccentric detective of the quartet. The tone of Blue Beetle is perfectly paired with the notion of what if Blue Beetle had a children's 1960s Saturday morning cartoon show and all the trappings, even down to miscolors that never got corrected. Beetle begrudgingly teams up with Question to track down the Squid Gang after they steal a famous diamond under the emotional control of Dr. Spectro who plots to alter the emotions of everyone with an invention Beetle's company sold to the government. To make matters worse, Captain Atom and Nightshade are also under Spectro's control. I love Blue Beetle and this short was the goofy cartoon show I always wanted. Honorable mention goes to The Question for all of his hilarious lines and to David Kaye for putting his own spin comparable to Jeffrey Combs' take on "Justice League Unlimited". The run time is 15 minutes and 30 seconds. The short is produced by Rick Morales, directed by Milo Neuman, character designs by Steven Choi, Zak Plucinski, and Chris Samnee, story by Jeremy Adams, screenplay by Jennifer Keene, and animation by Digital eMation. The cast is comprised of Matt Lanter as Blue Beetle, Jeff Bennett as Captain Atom and Pops, Ashly Burch as Nightshade, David Kaye as The Question, and Tom Kenny as Dr. Spectro.

The look backs on past releases include "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part Two" and "Batman: Hush" while the DC Vault classics are the "Batman: The Animated Series" episodes "Two-Face Part One" and "Two-Face Part Two". The overall special features were once again sparse. The DC Vault classics goes with the obvious, natural choices. Time will tell if the 2022 deluxe edition that combines both movies will be packed with exclusive special features that were notably absent in the single releases.

"Batman: The Long Halloween - Part Two" is a recommended purchase. The bare-bones special features like with Part One aside, the movie itself was a stunning and dare I say very cinematic Batman story that very much leans on its crime noir roots. Tim Sheridan completes his two part adaptation of the lauded comic book using a sharp editor's eye to make a fluid and concise second part that retains the stakes and spirit of the comic without stopping the pace flat. "Batman: The Long Halloween - Part Two" pulls audiences to its bittersweet finale but an unwavering hope for a better future still rings true.

Main Feature: 3.5 out of 5
Special Features: 2 out of 5
Overall Rating: 2.75 out of 5