Far above the series and actually better then first impressions
When I first heard about this movie, I had reservations. The Batman
series was straight forward action with too little character depth.
Every villain was an evil mustache twirling master martial artist, yet
Batman was always able to overpower them. I guess I was hoping for
something closer to the Paul Dini, Bruce Timm style complex Batman.
Anyway, this movie started out somewhat similar to a series episode,
the Joker escapes from Arkham Asylum and the Penguin uses the
distraction and some deft martial arts to make his own escape. Having a
lead on a hidden treasure, Penguin goes to a very Gothic cemetery and
finds more then gold, but Dracula's remains. Accidentally reviving him,
Dracula proceeds to build an army of the undead, targeting Batman
partially for using his image to scare criminals, partially because
Batman rules the night of Gotham, and that's his territory.
Yeah, I was a little hesitant when I first heard of this story, and the
first few minutes didn't do much to dispel those feelings, but it
quickly changed into something more entertaining and complex then the
series ever achieved, not Bruce Timm, but perfect within its own
Probably the best part of this movie is that Batman has trouble with
Dracula's vampire minions, and is completely outmatched by Dracula
himself. This means he has to rely on intelligence and improvisation,
in addition to plain martial arts skill to defeat him. Batman shows
great humility in that luck was the only thing to prevent Dracula's
victory in their first encounter.
Make no mistake, this is not a kids movie. Years ago, censors were
hesitant to allow a violent Batman Beyond movie go through without
changes. This movie has scenes and violence even more intense then the
original, uncut version of that movie. You feel the impacts of some
hits and see the characters painful reaction. One scene in a blood bank
involves vials raining down on the combatants, it is in almost black
and white to lessen the image but there is no mistaking what is
Voice work is impressive, many stand out and there are no sub-par
performances. Peter Stromwell performs Dracula as calculating,
piercing, and outright creepy. Rino Romano gives another strong
performance, Bruce Wayne is a charming playboy with occasional
philanthropic tendencies, Batman is no-nonsense, plain and simple.
Overall, while some things may not be for everyones taste, it is a
rousing 90 minutes that keeps up a strong pace and does not let up
until after the credits roll.
Overall, if The Batman.
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Better than you would think
While not at the level of its predecessors, this is a worthwhile film
that reminds viewers what they enjoy about Batman. This incarnation of
Bruce Wayne shows him in his earliest years as the Dark Knight.
Something particularly laudable about the film is how it accurately
portrays Bruce's expected difficulty in defeating Dracula given his
lack of experience. Fans of the comics may recognize the concept from
the early 1990's story where Batman becomes a vampire. While not a
representation of the comic (nor is it intended to be), the film still
gives fans a depiction of a dream fans have had given the dark nature
of both characters. Who hasn't sometime pondered what it would be like
for Batman to fight vampires?
The animation is cell-shaded which gives it a much clearer look. The
darker areas appear darker than they usually would. This is one way
that The Batman vs. Dracula is better than its famous precursor Return
of the Joker. The animation is more fluid. As well as appearing darker,
the storyline is much darker than "The Batman" cartoon show is. I
haven't seen all of the series (only a few episodes from seasons one
and two) but I found the series to be very childish and repetitive. It
lacked a darkness that would entice an older audience. That's why this
film really surprised me. It has blood (although it isn't red), and
Batman actually has difficulty defeating Dracula. Batman must work like
a detective to defeat Dracula and has to capture a vampired Joker to
use for this purpose. As for vampire lore, the film is a bit lacking.
It depicts Dracula as married to Carmilla from the La Fanu story. It
also violates vampire lore in stipulating that a vampire can be
resurrected after it is killed via exposure to sunlight. However, it
does follow the plot of several vampire movies. Dracula visits Bruce
Wayne's manor for a party and gives him his name backwards, as Dracula
does to other protagonists in several film adaptations. Also Dracula's
fixation with Vicki Vale is similar to Stoker's Dracula's fixation with
Mina Harker. I was very surprised and pleased with this homage to
previous work. However, the film does make a few inconsistencies, but
they're ultimately inconsequential. The only gripe I have is the screen
play. There are several immature lines and situations, from the joker
belching after drinking blood from the blood bank to Vicki Vale stating
that she likes her meat cooked. The intensity of each situation with
such dialog is ruined, but the corny speech is designed to appeal to
the child audience.
I found this film to be caught between its goal of entertaining
children and its desire to appeal to an adult audience. The scene in
the blood bank is very frightening, too much so for children. however,
the Joker's belch when drinking blood is perfect for children's humour.
So, while the film isn't great, it's far better than you would expect,
and it's worth a viewing..