If there is one thing that DC and Warner Bros seems to continuously get right is their animated films. Batman: The Long Halloween Part One is another title on the long list of superb animated films surrounding the caped crusader. The film faithfully adapts Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale‘s 1996 run of the same name and one of the most universally acclaimed Batman stories of all time. They follow a much younger Bruce Wayne during his second year as Batman while a serial killer is menacing Gotham. Except this serial killer only works on holidays and seems to be targeting local crime boss Carmine Falcone.
DISCLAIMER: We will try and keep this as spoiler-free as possible, but just keep in mind there might be a few here and there!
Being the first part in a two-part film series, there is quite a bit of story building within Batman: The Long Halloween Part One. But that doesn’t mean it takes away from the action and investigation we know and love. In fact, having two parts allows director Chris Palmer and screenwriter Tim Sheridan the freedom to stay true to the story and expand on characters and pull plenty of scenes and lines straight from the pages of the comic. We even get to enjoy the smaller moments that normally get erased in films to keep the story going.
But including nearly everything does lead to a few issues with pacing. Batman: The Long Halloween Part One hits the ground running and rarely stops to take a breath. The Holiday Killer only pops up for, you guessed it, holidays starting first with Halloween. Suddenly we see Thanksgiving, Christmas and then part one draws to a close on New Years’. Blink and you might just miss the small time jump in between holidays. But even with the fast pacing, the story is engaging enough to keep your attention as it pushes forward.
The animation style of Batman: The Long Halloween Part One reminds me quite a bit of the Batman: The Animated Series, which hits a major nostalgia vein with me, but it does separate itself by focusing more on the details and bringing the whole scene to life. It also features a very noir-tinged style that leans heavily into the investigative roots of Batman as he works to uncover the identity of the Holiday Killer. We get to watch him come into his own as he learns what works and what doesn’t. It’s these early stories that remind us that Batman had a rookie phase in the crimefighting scene.
Speaking of the portrayal of Batman, this is Jensen Ackles‘ first time under the cape and cowl and he did a phenomenal job. It isn’t campy and he doesn’t try too hard to sound like anyone else’s performance. Instead, he makes it his own and it fits. And that goes for everyone’s performances, including the late Naya Rivera as Catwoman, Billy Burke as Jim Gordon Josh Duhamel as Harvey Dent, Troy Baker as Joker, DavidDastmalchian as Calendar Man and so many more. They bring their own characters to life and play off each other extremely well for an animated film.
Sometimes in large ensemble casts, characters can fall to the back, but Batman: The Long Halloween Part One doesn’t seem to have this issue. Even when the Joker himself shows up, he doesn’t outshine the other characters within the film. This comes from a great cast, great writers and beautiful animation that constantly has you focusing on different characters throughout. Each does their job perfectly and continues to carry us through the story. I’m even more excited knowing we are going to have more characters to enjoy in part two.
Word of advice – don’t sleep on this. I know we are getting Batman: The Long Halloween Part Two next month, but that doesn’t mean you should wait to watch the first one. Batman: The Long Halloween Part One is intriguing enough on its own to enjoy without having to rush into the second one. It leads off on such a satisfying cliffhanger (no spoilers, I swear) that ties up the events of part one while also hyping up the anticipation for part two.
Batman: The Long Halloween Part One releases on digital and blu-ray tomorrow, June 22, 2021.