The Infallible Fish Reviews: Batman: The Long Halloween Part Two

I believe in Harvey Dent.

What’s the Story?

Gotham City is changing. Carmine ‘The Roman’ Falcone’s family and illegal business operations have been devastated by a bizarre string of holiday-themed murders. While both the police and the Batman search for the killer, Carmine has been forced to new extremes to keep his grip on the city. He’s entered into dealings with the so-called ‘freaks’ of Gotham. Poison Ivy, Scarecrow and Mad Hatter each bring their own brand of insanity to the streets, but they won’t be the only ones. DA Harvey Dent is feeling the pressure, under suspicion for the Holiday killings and fighting a losing battle in the courts, the cracks are finally starting to show. What little justice there is in Gotham may, in the end, come at the other side of a coin flip, even if it costs everything…

The Review:

It’s time for judgement, and ironically (or appropriately depending on which way you look at it) I may need to flip a coin to reach a verdict here. If you want my thoughts on the first part of this adaptation, and the comic it’s adapting, then you can check out my review HERE, but let’s not beat around the bush and just jump straight into things (much like the film does). How does The Long Halloween Part 2 stand as a film in it’s own right? Honestly, it’s not good and it hurts me to say that. The voice cast is superb, perfect for each and every character, I’m quickly falling in love with this animation style and some of the character moments just shine with pure brilliance. The problem is, as great as all those elements are by themselves, when you try and fit them all together the film just doesn’t work. It’s an unwieldy beast of disjointed scenes and terrible pacing. If you do plan on watching this film, which I will still probably recommend, then please watch Part 1 and 2 together. It won’t fix all of the problems, but it might help.

Okay, let’s break this down a little bit because there is actually a lot I want to praise in this film, even if none of it is quite enough to save the whole thing. We’ll start with the voice cast who, again, the only word I have for them is perfect. In my Part One review I singled out Jensen Ackles and Naya Rivera, and while they’re still just as fantastic as they were in Part 1, this time I want to take my hat off to Josh Duhamel. His performance as Harvey Dent/Two-Face is outstanding, you really feel like he’s a man on the edge and then when he starts using his Two-Face voice, chills went down my spine. I also really love that little speech he gives at the end to Carmine about why he’s using his famous coin to decide what ‘justice’ is. It’s the character moments that make this film for me, there are some really great action sequences (like the Poison Ivy/Catwoman fight that starts the film off), but it’s the little conversations between people where this cast are firing on all cylinders.

Unfortunately, as great as the majority of the scenes are by themselves, it’s once you start stringing them one after the other that things come apart. In my previous review I mentioned that I was worried they were going to rush through elements of this story and that’s exactly what happened. The beginning of this film either blitzs through or just plain skips over several issues of the comic and, as sacrilegious as it feels to say, I think they should have just left it all out entirely. As much as I adore any time Poison Ivy gets on screen, or the brief Scarecrow nightmare sequence which is the best animated sequence in this film, they add little overall. There’s some minor plot beats that you need from their appearances, but I really think the time would have been better spent on showing Batman investigate the Holiday killings. Once we reach the halfway point it feels like this film forgets there’s even a serial killer on the loose, abandoning the little title cards it established for each killing in the last film and at the start of this one. There’s just too much stuff that it’s trying to do and it detracts from the moments that really needed the focus.

That brings me to the ending, and I need to talk about the comic one more time. I said in my previous review that The Long Halloween comic isn’t perfect, and it’s the ending where I feel it really falters. Honestly when I first read the comic it was the resolution to the big mystery that was my only disappointment with the story. Not with who the Holiday killer turned out to be, that made sense (and was a lot less convoluted than Hush’s mess of an ending), but I had to mull it over for a long time. The ending leaves a lot open to your interpretation and you have to really go back over things and work out the logistics on your own, the comic gives you no help in that regard, which I can argue both for and against. No, what bugs me is the lack of a cathartic ending, which I guess this is meant to be a grand tragedy and so it should be bitter sweet, but Batman never confronts the true Holiday killer. In this film though, that’s changed. Batman does indeed have a final conversation with the killer and, honestly, I’m not sure which is better. On the one hand, it makes things clearer and allows the killer to dig into their motives a little more, but it creates a giant plothole in that Batman just walks away from the killer with no real explanation as to why. Just a line would have done, there wasn’t enough evidence to convict them, he wanted to respect Harvey’s wishes, heck even a ‘I’ll be watching’ would have sufficed, but no.

The Verdict:

In the end, Batman: The Long Halloween Part 2 is a film that leaves me in two minds (again either ironically or appropriately depending on your point of view). It has some fantastic moments, a terrific voice cast that excels with every line delivered and a great look to it, but the parts are definitely stronger than the whole. All together this film feels disjointed, trying to give its attention to too many plot elements without putting its focus where it should be. It’s a shame as with the proper care and time I think this adaptation could have been one of the best in Batman’s history, but cutting it up as two movies probably wasn’t the way to go about it.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

5 comments

  1. ospreyshire · August 21

    That is disappointing how they changed things and didn’t improve from Part 1. At least you got to finish this particular film series. From what I’ve heard, I feel like some of these animated adaptations can be really hit or miss.

    Just watched the latest Chapter show, and…the “BritWres Ariel” from Kingston Upon Hull got the win over “Sheffield” in a #1 Contenders Match. Sorry.

    Also, thanks for checking out my latest review. This project I’m doing this August has been interesting so far and got me out of my comfort zones with what I watch and critique.

    Liked by 1 person

    • neverarguewithafish · August 22

      Yeah the DC Universe films are very hit or miss. I get that they’re just cheaply and quickly made to sell a few DVDs, but it hurts when some good ideas and productions are just thrown away. Though there are some really good movies, like Death of Superman or Crisis on Two Earths. At some pointed I’ll get around to that Top 5 DC animated films list.

      Boo. Kingston Upon Hull. Hiss.

      No problem. They’ve been fun reviews, it’s important that we remember that the Disney version of these stories aren’t the only ones and we keep some of the alternatives alive in popular consciousness.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ospreyshire · August 22

        Sounds about right. I do wish they would put effort in the production. Also, I don’t know if it’s just an American thing, but it infuriates me how serious mature animation is seen as an afterthought compared to Japan. That sounds like a great idea for a list.

        Yeah…Alexxis Falcon got the win over Taonga this time in Progress even though they’ve fought each other in other companies. With that aside, is there a rivalry with Sheffield and Hull like in sports or anything else?

        Thanks. Glad you’ve been enjoying them. My favorite one so far with this project was Jean Cocteau’s take on Beauty and the Beast. That classic art house take was fascinating despite some of the flaws for example. I definitely respect that about you. Even though I know you like a lot of Disney works, you can at least appreciate how there are other adaptations or the original stories to check out.

        Liked by 1 person

      • neverarguewithafish · August 22

        I’m not aware of any rivalry between Sheffield and Hull, though I’m not an expert on anything sports related. Only other rivalries I can think of are North/South related and that doesn’t apply because both cities are in the North. There are rivalries between Northern cities, but I couldn’t name you one, I tend to tune out that stuff.

        As much as I love Disney, they’re not the be all end all of anything. A friend of mine used to hold these storytelling evenings where she’d recite original fairy tales. I’d be sad if we ever truly lost stuff like that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • ospreyshire · August 22

        Gotcha. I was wondering about that. I wasn’t sure if there was some inter-Yorkshire rivalry sort of thing between Sheffield, Hull, or any other cities in that part of Northern England. The North/South stuff makes sense from what you told me and what I’ve researched. Even though I’m not knee deep in sports regardless on which part of the Atlantic these games happen, the only Northern rivalries I can think of are Manchester/Liverpool and Newcastle/Sunderland. I only know the latter because of watching Sunderland Til I Die which briefly mentions it in the 2nd season and when I saw a BritWres match happening in Newcastle where a guy from Sunderland was booed out of the building just because he was a Mackem yet the Geordie playing a heel gimmick was getting cheered. I looked up some of the history and not all of it had to do with soccer as it stems back centuries ago with one of the wars in England.

        Sure thing and I respect that even with our differences of viewing Disney. Good on your friend for reciting these original fairy tales. Even though there’s a bunch of them that are more intense than people give credit for, they still need to be presevered since they were the archetypes of so many other stories. That and I find it interesting comparing and contrasting some of these stories with their Disney versions. More often than not, then can be VERY divergent and even seeing some of these non-Disney adaptations being accurate to the originals was educational in and of itself.

        Liked by 1 person

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