I have been looking forward to Batman: The Long Halloween as it’s touted to be one of the landmark Batman stories. I did read the graphic novel a long while and, while I did like the mystery, I had problems getting over the overall art style. Mostly, I had big issues with how Catwoman looked as she looked more like a mouse than a cat with those big ears. I also partially didn’t like the big reveal on the identity of the Holiday Killer as there didn’t seem to be any clues pointing to who it should be. Heck, even Batman couldn’t figure out the complete picture himself! I was hoping the animated film version of The Long Halloween could fix these issues and, while it did so somewhat, it also created a few more problems in the process.
I will admit that DC did a smart move by breaking The Long Halloween’s runtime into two films as the graphic novel is quite long. However, it didn’t feel right to review Part 1 and Part 2 individually. This just means that this review, which is SPOILER FREE, by the way, will be reviewing both parts as one whole.
Batman: The Long Halloween takes place early in the Caped Crusader’s crime fighting career. He’s become well-known and has been helping Commissioner Gordon wipe out crime in Gotham City. When a fledgling district attorney named Harvey Dent vows to take down the biggest crime boss in the city, Alberto Falcone, he forms a bond with both Gordon and the Dark Knight to do just that.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest problems I had with the graphic novel was the art style. Well, DC did a good job with the redesigns are more simplified but works well with the overall grim look. It still looking like a comic book and still looks good when animated… most of the time. Catwoman is given a sleeker design, which is leagues better than the one found in the comic. I actually like the less detailed art used for all the characters. It just comes off as very clean.
However, this time around, I didn’t like how they made Bruce Wayne look. I’m fine with how Batman comes off on the screen. But there’s just something off about Bruce Wayne here. It looks like he’s tired all the time which, in retrospect, does make sense when you stay up all night dressed up as a bat to fight for vigilante justice. At the very least, they could have made him come off as more carefree when he’s talking to people as Bruce.
The action scenes are also well animated and it’s easy to keep up with the action. They also used some really good camera angles to really catch what’s happening and make things look very dynamic. However, it’s during the slower moments when you can see the characters move unnaturally. It’s like the characters move their body in ways that don’t match what they’re supposed to be doing. It’s hard to explain but it is hard to notice until you see it.
The voice acting, to my surprise, is top-notch all around in The Long Halloween. Some of the standouts are Josh Duhamel as Harvey Dent, Titus Welliver as Carmine Falcone and the late Naya Rivera as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Josh Duhamel has to do a lot of heavy lifting here as, while Batman’s name is in the title, this is more Harvey Dent story. If you know the comics or have seen The Dark Knight, you probably already know what happens to Dent here. So it was really important to see his slow descent into the person he’s to become. Titus Welliver’s Carmine Falcone has a kind of menace while covering it up by being a charming gentleman with his words and mannerism. Naya Rivera’s Selina Kyle/Catwoman does come off as a little bit more subdued than I would like. However, there are some moments of brilliance in her performance that I can’t deny.
We now have to talk about the meat of The Long Halloween, which is the story and the actual mystery regarding who the Holiday Killer is. Like I said before, it was virtually impossible to solve who’s killing Carmine Falcone’s men in the graphic novel. Here, however, they do drop some very subtle hints on who it is and, once you know who it is by the very end, you can actually re-watch both Part 1 and 2 and see when and where they point at who it is. Unfortunately, even though you figure out who it is, it still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as to how the Holiday Killer managed to perform these grisly murders without getting hurt or maimed in the process.
It’s also kind of hilarious that some of the Caped Crusader’s villains actually imply they know who the Holiday Killer way before Batman ever does. Now, there’s no telling if they’re really know who it is or if they’re just playing mindgames with Batman. But it comes off as weird they know who the Holiday Killer is and no the World’s Greatest Detective. The excuse given is that it’s still early in his crime fighting career. Batman may be very experienced at beating bad guys to a pulp by now. But when it comes to solid detective work, he hasn’t gotten that much experience yet. It’s still really weird.
Oh, and when it comes to fighting, even then Batman isn’t that good! He manages to find some really silly ways of losing. There are more than a couple of times when he needs to be saved by Catwoman or he’ll be outsmarted by the villains. This becomes very apparent in Part 2 when The Long Halloween starts adding more of Batman’s Rogues Gallery into the mix. Once again, I guess the excuse is he’s still very young. But come on! Make Batman a little more badass, for Crissakes!
The biggest problem with The Long Halloween is the pacing. Coming in at almost three hours long when viewed back-to-back, the movie does take it’s sweet time in telling the story while not moving the story forward. This is much more apparent in Part 2 as things just seem to happen and draws out the scenes much longer than they should. Then again, they were basically following the framework laid out in the graphic novel so I can’t really blame them for moving at a glacial pace at times. But I do feel some things could’ve been reworked to move things along at a much more brisk manner.
Still, I do have to say Batman: The Long Halloween is a decent watch. While the pacing can be maddening slow, it does add to the slow burn of the story. The overall mystery regarding who the Holiday Killer is done well even though who it is still doesn’t make that much sense. Besides, everything else is really good so, while this might not be a ringing endorsement, I say give The Long Halloween a chance.
Have you seen Batman: The Long Halloween? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!