Feature-length animated Batman action
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Wed, 5 January 2005
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I love Batman. Heās one of my favourite characters from comics or anywhere else. Thereās just something so flat-out cool about him. He doesnāt have any superpowers; heās just a pissed off millionaire who has trained mentally and physically all his life so that he can go out at night dressed up as a giant bat and beat the crap out of nasty criminals. Good for him I say.
Outside of the funny books nobody seems to know how to portray the character correctly. There was the camp and goofy 60ās TV series. That show is a good laugh but not the proper dark and brooding Bats that I dig. Then came those movies in the ā90ās. The Tim Burton original I quite like, apart from Batman having a suit with built in muscles rather than earning them the hard way and his use of guns (something fans know he is dead against). The dark look of the movie is pretty spot on and Jack Nicholsonās Joker rocks. The second film (also done by Burton) isnāt too bad either, despite some pretty lame stuff like those stupid penguin bombs. After that the flicks got worse and worse; the others are all completely awful and not worth mentioning.
However there is another screen version of Batman and, for me, it is by far the best one. That is the one featured in the excellent cartoon from 1992 -95 called (appropriately enough) Batman the Animated Series which later morphed into The New Batman Adventures. Now THAT is the Batman that I know and love. As well as the awesome TV series, which has only just become available collected on DVD, the show/s have had a few spin off movie length specials. And guess what? One of those movies is called Mystery of the Batwoman. Guess what else? This is my review of it! So there, you can stop guessing now.
Written by Michael Reaves and directed by Curt Geda, Mystery of the Batwoman sees Batman trying to solve a mystery involving a Batwomanā¦ sorry, I couldnāt resist pointing out the obvious like that. Seriously though, there is a Batwoman who appears in Gotham city and nobody, including Batman, knows who is under the mask. She seems determined to foil the plans of crime boss Rupert Thorn and his criminal partner The Penguin. She also seems to have little regard for any laws. So Batman gets tangled up in the mess as he too tries to bring down the crooks, while also hoping to discover just who it is in that Batwoman suit and whether she should be considered friend or foe.
The art work here is very stylish and uses the angular characters the show is now well known for. Pretty fluid animation too, nothing up to the standards of a big budget anime, but smooth enough. There are some really great fight scenes and action sequences. There are a few little visual gags thrown in too, like the scene where Tim Drake (Robin) is seen reading an X-men-esque mutant comic. No big complaints from me about the look of the thing, except to say that some of the other Bat ātoons have looked just a little better than this one does. Aurally everything fits in just fine, you wonāt be running out to buy the soundtrack (unless you are a tool) but it serves its purpose admirably enough. The āactingā or voice over work is all top notch as always with the animated Batman stuff.
As for the plot, well I like it, but not as much as some of the other animated Batman stories Iāve seen. But Iāll review those later and talk about āem then. The mystery of who is behind the Batwoman mask works quite effectively as a few different suspects are presented. Thereās a nice little romantic side story going on with Bruce Wayne and Kathy Duquesne- whose father Carlton is a mobster involved with Rupert Thorn and the Penguin. The relationship helps show the more normal side of Batman/Wayne. The way Kathy has been drawn I think she resembles Halle Berry, but Iām unsure as to whether or not this was intentional. The whole tone of the movie is a bit lighter than some of the other Batman related works Iāve previously seen, but not so much that it loses its edge completely. It makes for a nice change really when grouped with the others.
The only major problem I had with the story is I thought Batman seemed a little slow figuring a couple of things out considering heās supposed to be a brilliant detective. That and the fact that Iāve never really cared too much about Oswald Cobblepot, also known as Penguin. At the end of the day he is just a short fat dude with an umbrella. Sure the umbrella fires bullets, but even so heās hardly the most fearsome of villains. The makers of this film are well aware of this (they actually acknowledge it in one of the discās extra features) and in order to compensate theyāve added a far more imposing adversary into the mix; the 6ā8āā, 350lbs masked monster- Bane! Penguin hires Bane to take down both Batwoman and Batman. Thereās a really cool showdown at the end of the movie between Bane and the Dark Knight. Thanks to including the Bane character, the Penguin gets to stick mostly to the business side of the shady dealings and everything flows fairly well.
For Batman and animation fans I can thoroughly recommend adding Mystery of the Batwoman to your collection. There are some reasonable, but rather limited, extras on the disc too, such as profiles of the characters and some interesting āmaking ofā features. Casual followers of Bats could probably give this one a miss as there are some far better ones out there. Iād recommend Batman of the Future: Return of the Joker (which I will review if Justin ever gives it back to me) for one over this. I quite enjoyed it and, since you can pick this up for under twenty bucks now, you canāt really complain about the value.
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Bat fans should give this a spin