If you wanted to get into Batman comics and you asked any Bat-expert where to start, Batman: The Long Halloween would undoubtedly be one of the first stories they’d recommend. This is for good reason as Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale crafted one of the most seminal and inspiration Batman comics to date. So much so that this animated adaptation will have to jump the same hurdles the upcoming Dune will have to compete with concerning false accusations of plagiarism. Batman: The Long Halloween is a clear inspiration for The Dark Knight, with several moments in that film being ripped straight from the pages of the comic. It’s also quite clear that Matt Reeves is going down a similar direction with his own take in The Batman.
It’s a wonder then that it’s taken Warner Bros. Animation this long to finally adapt the classic graphic novel, seeing as though they’ve already done takes on several of Batman’s other greatest stories like The Dark Knight Returns, Year One, Hush and Under The Red Hood – all of which have had moments put into live action or games.
It’s also saddening that the animation studio has such little respect for their audience’s attention span that they have to split their film into two 85 minute parts. Granted, they also did this with The Dark Knight Returns and, yes, it shows that they want to give the story the respect it deserves, but it also means we have to wait a few months to see what the end of the story is. This decision would sort of make sense if they were aiming the films at children, but this is very much a 15 rated film. Furthermore, only adults and comic fans are going to be interested in animated graphic novel adaptations.
All that being said, though this is only half of a film, it’s still a very good half and makes you excited for the next part. DC’s new style of animation is gorgeous and a vast improvement on the psuedo-anime style they were going for throughout the 2010s. All of the shading and colour pops fantastically and, added with the stellar directing, this all really gives off the essence of watching a moving comic book.
Jensen Ackles has his first go at being Batman after portraying an ex-Robin in Batman: Under The Red Hood. He certainly proves himself as a dark and brooding but also young and inexperienced Dark Knight, though he doesn’t really change his voice when he’s playing Bruce Wayne. That however is very much a nit-pick and there’s not much of Bruce Wayne anyway. Batman is on top form in this film. This goes for basically all of the rest of the cast too. Josh Duhamel, the late Naya Rivera and, of course, Troy Baker all give fantastic performances to these classic characters.
Batman: The Long Halloween, Part 1 should really just be double the length and more stubborn fans of the source material may be annoyed with some of the changes made. Nevertheless, the film succeeds in being a thrilling and engaging Bat-film and leaves you starving for the conclusion.
Batman: The Long Halloween, Part 1 is available to buy online, on DVD or on Blu-Ray from Monday June 21st