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Batman Vs. Two-Face (2017)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/17/2017

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/23/2017

When it comes to the 1966 Batman television series, there are typically two schools of thought. Some people love it for its campy charm and its great use of color. They think that that show epitomizes the "Swinging 60s" and challenges authority. There is another group who hate the show because they feel that it flies in the face of everything that the "Dark Knight" should represent. The show's sheer goofiness is an affront to a character who is known for being stoic and serious. If there's one thing that the two parties could agree on, it would be that the show was a thing of the past. Well, not so fast, chum (as Batman would say to Robin). In 2016, Warner Home Video released Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, an animated version of the show. Now, this bizarre idea returns with Batman Vs. Two-Face.

Batman (voiced by Adam West) and Robin (voiced by Burt Ward) are invited to see a demonstration of the latest invention from Dr. Hugo Strange (voiced by Jim Ward). District Attorney Harvey Dent (voiced by William Shatner) is also in attendance. The device is supposed to suck the evil out of criminals, and it appears to be working at first. However, there is an accident and the vat of evil residue spills, scarring half of Dent's face. Fortunately, Bruce Wayne, Batman's alter-ego, is able to finance a surgical procedure which helps Dent. While this is going on, King Tut (voiced by Wally Wingert) and other villains are creating trouble in Gotham City. Who is the shadowy figure guiding these bad guys and how is it putting Batman's secret identity in jeopardy?

Although I see most of the DC Comics animated films, I somehow missed Return of the Caped Crusaders, so I had no idea that an animated update of the 1966 Batman show existed. Oh, but it does. And allow me to say, what a bizarre concept. This isn't simply an animated movie which pays homage to the show, it's an animated version of the show! Not only do we get the original voices of Batman, Robin, and Catwoman (Julie Newmar), but the character designs are the same, the sets are similar, and we even get the familiar "Pow!" and "Bam!" onomatopoeia graphics. This is paired with the goofy tone which pairs Batmanís matter-of-fact outlook on the world with the bizarre and over-the-top super-villains.

So, is all of this a good thing? Well, thatís going to depend on a few things. If you are used to or a fan of the 1966 Batman show, then, at the very least, you are going to find this interesting. Again, itís mind-blowing that someone thought to bring this show back in animated form. As noted, this movie really captures many facets of the show and itís clear that this is a love-letter to the series. But, something is missing. As someone who grew up watching the show in reruns, I clearly remember how bizarre it was due to the fact that it was both incredibly earnest and incredibly dumb. This movie is taking a distant view of the series and it is far too aware of the showís pros and cons. It feels like a carbon copy which has lost some of the finer details of the original.

If you arenít familiar with the TV series...well...I canít imagine what watching Batman Vs. Two-Face would be like. You will wonder who villains like King Tut (voiced by Wally Wingert) are and why the bad guys over-explain their elaborate plans to end Batman and Robin. The idea of sucking the evil out of Batman's foes will seem farcical, and you'll just have to buy the fact that Dent's face could be repaired. In other words, those who aren't down for a trip down Bat-memory lane will be befuddled by the bulk of Batman Vs. Two-Face. Again, this is certainly an interesting experiment and it's nice to know that one of West's last roles was to re-visit the character which made him a star, but, at the same time, it's also incredibly weird. The movie is pretty well-paced and there's often something happening, but the whole event feels like it's more about nostalgia than paving any new ground.

Batman Vs. Two-Face rolls out some odd cowboy villain on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs an average of 18 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good, although it does reveal some lax areas in the animation and the depth works well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The subwoofer effects deliver during the finale, adding some drama to the action. Throughout, we get noticeable stereo and surround effects, some of which are nicely detailed, as they highlight sounds coming from off-screen.

The Batman Vs. Two-Face Blu-ray Disc contains several extra features. "The Wonderful World of Burt Ward" (15 minutes) features an interview with Ward who tells his life story and describes his work in show-business. This is followed by "Burt Ward on Being Starstruck" (2 minutes), a brief piece in which he talks about meeting the guest stars on Batman, as well as "Burt Ward on Ambition" (1 minute), where he talks about his love of Superman. "Adam West Tribute Panel, Comic-Con International 2017" (39 minutes) has a group of speakers, including Kevin Smith, sharing memories about the late actor. "Julie Newmar on Inspiration" (2 minutes) has the actress sharing talking about her costume and the dialogue. There is also a brief DELETED SCENE.

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long