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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Movie Review - Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders

Well, DC and Warner Brothers have gifted us with yet another straight-to-DVD animated Batman movie.  As I've mentioned for a while, I've mostly grown bored with them and have been giving them a pass, but this one...this one I felt was worth picking up.

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusades Blu-Ray cover

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders

Directed by Rick Morales

Starring the voices of Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Jeff Bergman, William Salyers, Wally Wingert, Steven Weber, Thomas Lennon, and Lynne Marie Stewart.


It's been fun watching the pendulum swing on the old Batman TV series from the 1960s.  When I was a kid, and Tim Burton's Batman came out, and Batman was all dark and gritty again, it was derided for what it did to the Batman mythology.  But in the past 10 years or so, it's been rediscovered and re-embraced as this wonderful addition to the Batman universe.  Things have really stepped up recently, as Warner Brothers finally cleared up the legal quagmire surrounding the show and is now able to merchandise the heck out of it.  And when Warner Brothers started pumping out these straight-to-DVD movies, it didn't take long for people to start thinking, "Hey, wouldn't it be neat if they did one that was just like the Batman show from the 1960s?  Bring back Adam West and Burt Ward to voice Batman and Robin for one last hurrah?"  And here we are, and they also brought along Julie Newmar for one last hurrah as Catwoman.


On a peaceful Gotham night, as billionaire Bruce Wayne and his youthful ward Dick Grayson kick back to watch their favourite variety show, they watch in horror as the show is taken over by their four most fearsome foes:  the Joke, Penguin, the Riddler, and Catwoman.  It's to the Batpoles, and they take to the streets as Batman and Robin to stop their evil plot.  Their plans involved a duplicator ray, a trip to outer space, and plans of global conquest!  But, Catwoman has a little something extra:  Batnip, a drug of her own design that will turn Batman to the dark side.  Will Batman and Robin stop these fiends?  Will Batman actually fall to the dark side?

What I Liked

SPOILER WARNING:  Yes, Batman falls to the dark side, and the entire mid-section of the movie is Catwoman and Robin teaming up to take down an evil Batman.  Making Batman the bad guy is the most hilarious twist they could do on the classic 1960s formula.  Especially as he first starts turning evil, and Batman goes through this phase where he starts acting like the more modern, angst-ridden, moody Batman.  Hearing Adam West's Batman start doing lines from The Dark Knight Returns as he puts on the Bat brass knuckles is gut-bustingly funny.  Or when he does the classic bit of mysteriously disappearing from Commissioner Gordon's office when Gordon turns his back mid-sentence:

Gordon:  He's gone!  Like a bat in the night!
Chief O'Hara:  Well, that's not very Batman-like.

And poor Robin is stuck there wondering how he's going to get home. 

And it's full of in-jokes and references to other facets of the Batman mythos.  My particular favourite is this dig at The Dark Knight Rises:

Catwoman:  I'll turn myself in, Batman, on one condition.  When I get out, run away with me to Europe, where we can sip tea in cafes and live happily ever after!
Robin:  Holy unsatisfying ending. 

The voice acting is great.  Yeah, Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar all show their age in their voices, but damn it, they're giving it their all.  And the voice actors they got to do Joker, Penguin, and Riddler to some damn fine impressions of the original actors.  The music is great as they capture the sounds of the 1960s show perfectly, if just a big bigger and more orchestral.  And the tone of the 1960s show is preserved, but the scope is greatly expanded. 

What I Didn't Like

Not much, man.  Not much. 

Final Verdict

One of the most entertaining straight-to-DVD Batman films they've pumped out in a long time.  Bring on the sequel! 

Oh, didn't you hear?  They already announced a sequel.  Finally, Two-Face comes to the 1960s Batman universe, voiced by William Shatner. 

4 Nibs

Bonus Features

Not much for bonus features on this one.  A couple of featurettes about the making of the film, some previews for the other Batman straight-to-DVD animated films, and that's it. 

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