Thursday, 1 February 2018

Batman VS Two Face



Star's Hip Enterprise

Batman VS Two Face
USA 2017 Directed by Rick Morales
Warner Brothers Blu Ray Zone B


Batman VS Two Face is an animated feature from the end of last year which serves as a sequel to the previous year’s Batman - The Return Of The Caped Crusaders (which I reviewed here). The animation continues the adventures of the 1960s TV show in much the same way that the recent comics series Batman 1966 has done. Like the previous movie, this one features original TV show stars reprising their roles. So we have Adam West as the voice of Batman, Burt Ward as the voice of Robin and Julie Newmar as the voice of Catwoman. In addition to Newmar we also have a character called Lucilee Diamond who, towards the end of the movie, finds herself dressed up as Catwoman. I didn’t know it until I spotted her in the end credits but this character is voiced by none other than Lee Meriwether, who played Catwoman opposite West and Ward in the 1966 Batman movie.

Rounding out this fine cast we have the inclusion of a famous Batman super villain who was one of the few who never made it into the TV series, played by an actor who was in his heyday at around the same time and who also, strangely, never made it into an episode of the original show. So here we have Two-Face, aka schizophrenically scarred ex DA Harvey Dent, played wonderfully by Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. It was really a blast seeing him take on the voicing duties here and it’s quite fitting that the face the animators have given him here is that of a young Shatner of the time... so a purr-fect fit.

We also have a load of current voice talent, as in the last one, taking the parts of various other roles from the TV show's rogues gallery and, mostly, getting a really good match for the voices. The knock off versions of Cesare Romero’s Joker, Frank Gorshin’s Riddler and, in a more expanded role here, Victor Buono’s King Tut are all absolutely fabulous renditions of what the actors sounded like back in the day. For some reason, I’m still having some trouble hearing the similarities to Burgess Meredith’s iconic rendition of The Penguin but he doesn’t have as big a part this time around, to be fair.

While this is not nearly as witty or clever as the first film in this second and, alas, probably last movie in the series (due to the recent demise of lead actor Adam West... this is his last movie appearance), the film is also not nearly as convoluted but, while the story is simpler in this rendition, it doesn’t stop this film from being any less jokey or entertaining and, in some ways, I think I possibly enjoyed this second one even more than the first (although I suspect it doesn’t have as much repeat value as the initial installment).

The plot gives us a slightly new version of the creation for the Two Face character. This time it involves him being sprayed in the face with the collected essence of evil from a machine invented by Hugo Strange... and this also allows the writers to play fast and loose with the way his physical deformities (not to mention magically changing clothing... don’t even go there) manifest themselves and appear/disappear at will. If you’re a purist in terms of how your super villains are put together and worry about the consistency and logic of their incarnation then this movie is not going to be for you. If, however, you take it in the spirit in which it is intended... a light flashback to a simpler and much loved 1960s TV show, then you’re in for a treat.

The film has a fairly short running time of 1 hour and 12 minutes (which is six minutes down on the first film) but this doesn’t mean any of it feels too short and, like always, the animators and writers have fun with the gags.... such as an onomatopoeic punching effect spelling out SPRANG! in memory, presumably, of former Batman artist Dick Sprang... or having the climax of the movie take place in Lorenzo’s Oil Factory. Most of the jokes are pretty much on the mark here and, even though it doesn’t feel nearly clever as their first go around the block with this animated incarnation, it still brought a smile to the face and chuckles to the lips on more than one occasion.

The musical soundtrack, too, is spot on again with the three composers from the previous movie, Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion and Lolita Ritmanis, doing an excellent job at giving Neil Hefti and Nelson Riddle a run for their money when it comes to sounding like the old shows and movie. A word of warning... the CD version of the score is only available exclusively from one site in the US and they won’t ship it out to the UK (or many other countries, by the looks of it) so, if you want a copy, you need to find a US friend to send one on to you (and thanks very much again Treva, for gifting this soundtrack to me for Christmas, it’s a great score and much appreciated).

And that’s really all I’ve got to say about this one. A short but hopefully sweet review and, even though it’s not live action, this is a fine swan song for Adam West and I hope he would have been proud of the result. If you liked the old Batman TV show or were a fan of Batman - The Return Of The Caped Crusaders and... especially if you loved both... then Batman VS Two Face is more than worth some of your time. It’s Bat-tastic.

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