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Batman: The Long Halloween – Part One (Blu-ray Review)

I’m not alone when I say that Batman: The Long Halloween is one of my favorite and best tales of the Dark Knight ever laid to paper. So, it was with great excitement when I not only found out that the DCAU was producing an adaptation of it, but that they were also splitting it into two parts and trying to give the story a full appreciation. You’ll recall that Christopher Nolan and David Goyer were influenced a bit by this story when crafting the first two films in their Batman trilogy, but this is the one that is pulling it straight from the page. With a voice cast that boasts Jensen Ackles as Batman and Josh Duhamel as Harvey Dent, this summer is all about the pumpkins as Part One will land on Blu-ray June 22nd. Part Two will be arriving on August 10th. Both are available for pre-order and you can use the paid Amazon Associates link following the review to nab yourself a copy. Or you can wait for the 4K release that combines both parts later in the year.

Film

Inspired by the iconic mid-1990s DC story from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One begins as a brutal murder on Halloween prompts Gotham’s young vigilante, the Batman, to form a pact with the city’s only two uncorrupt lawmen (Police Captain James Gordan and District Attorney Harvey Dent) in order to take down The Roman, head of the notorious and powerful Falcone Crime Family. But when more deaths occur on Thanksgiving and Christmas, it becomes clear that, instead of ordinary gang violence, they’re also dealing with a serial killer – the identity of whom, with each conflicting clue, grows harder to discern. Few cases have ever tested the wits of the World’s Greatest Detective like the mystery behind the Holiday Killer.

With such attachment to the original comic, when it comes to adaptation, you have to appreciate and understand what’s possible as film and comics are different mediums. Though, when doing a two part juncture like this, there’s an attempt to be able to showcase everything. Because, if not, then just do your best to get it into 2 hours. And with The Long Halloween – Part One, they seem to have admirably put this thing together. Yes, there’s a little bit of streamlining, which is to be expected. They know what matters here and they know how to just craft an entertaining film first and foremost.

The vocal cast assembled here is a treat to watch verbally chew scenery with one another. I’m not sure whether any of them were in each other’s presence when they recorded, but there’s a real chemistry that works here. You already know without watching that Jensen Ackles makes a solid Batman. Josh Duhamel actually brings a unique Harvey Dent to the table with a more tough approach. The late Naya Rivera is a terrific Catwoman as she is able to play a wonderful dual personality with the Selina Kyle secret identity. And very interestingly, Jack Quaid manages to deliver quite a strong performance in this piece that when you think about it, is essential. Not to be forgotten, Troy Baker does a wonderful Mark Hamill Joker impersonation while feeling comfortable in his own skin.

Batman: The Long Halloween – Part One is tough to judge without the other half as the story is incomplete, but like an issue of a comic book, it has a cliffhanger. However, this does feel complete enough a story to satisfy. The action is quite good and the detective story and performances lead to some good drama. I highly recommend the comic arc this is based off of first and foremost, but this adaptation is quite good if you’re not into reading and want a still really awesome version.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-25

Clarity/Detail: With the notion that Batman: The Long Halloween – Parts One and Two will be getting a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release later in the year, it appears not a whole lot seems to be put into making this a snappy Blu-ray. First, they’ve put it onto a BD-25. The image leaves some to be desired in terms of vividness and wanting a bit more fullness coming from the color. It has a bit of dingy appearance and a look that makes you feel like some backlit device hasn’t been turned on. There are also some crushy blacks appearing intermittently in some darker areas of shadow and fabrics.

Depth:  While this feels a bit squished onto the BD-25, there is some good spacing on the characters and backgrounds for separation, especially in camera swings and such. Movements are smooth, with very little in the way of a blur/jitter distortion.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and inky. There are some issues of light crush, likely due to the film being a bit compressed looking and put on a BD-25. I’m sure this’ll be gone by time the 4K version arrives.

Color Reproduction: Colors pull through pretty nice with a very primary mix. Greens come strong as do reds. The Joker makes sure things pop when he is present. Very good attention to yellows all around with its hues and lighting.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German SDH, Dutch, Spanish

Dynamics: The 5.1 mix is pretty engaging, loud and has fun with the multiple channels. The mix is quite balanced with good depth and layering to it. From the quietest corners of sewer to the loudest bits of action at a New Years’ Eve party, the mix really knows how to get a bang for its buck.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Explosions, gunfire, punches, water splashing, crashing and more give a good bump from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: There’s a lot of fun to be had in many different arenas for the speakers. There are terrific ambient moments helped build from the rear channels. There’s an alley fight with a lot of martial arts weapons whipping around that manage to travel throughout the speaker realm which is a lot of fun. This is quite an active, spaced out and detailed mix.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras

Batman: The Long Halloween – Part One comes with a redeemable digital code for the film.

DC Showcase: The Losers (HD, 16:04) – An exclusive DC animated short

A Sneak Peak at the Next Animated DC Universe Movie, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two (HD, 9:10) – A look at the second half of this comic book event with some interviews, scenes, preliminary art, storyboard animations and such.

A Preview of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 (HD, 12:34) – A recycled preview featurette from 2012.

A Preview of Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (HD, 8:28) – Again, a recycled featurette from another release.

From the DC Vault: Batman: The Animated Series – “Christmas with the Joker” (HD, 22:22) 

From the DC Vault: Batman: The Animated Series – “Its Never Too Late” (HD, 22:24) 

Summary

We’ll have to see how Part Two turns out before judging the animated adaptation of The Long Halloween as a whole, but they appear to be off to a good start. The Blu-ray is a solid watch, with good audio but a video transfer that leaves a bit to be desired. The extras have a nice little short but are overloaded with recycled featurettes and Batman: The Animated Series episodes. As mentioned above, there will be a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release of this and Part Two later in the year, so you may want to hold out and opt for that (If you have a 4K player) while renting this part to check it out for now.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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