Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Adam West Plays the Bright Knight One Last Time in "Batman vs. Two-Face" [Blu-ray Review]

DC and Warner Bros. takes us back in time once again to an era when the Dark Knight was a whole lot brighter and Gotham City was full of crime, but definitely not grim and grimy. It's 1966 again as "Batman vs. Two-Face" picks up right where the campy classic television series left off almost 50 years ago. Let me just say, the filmmakers did a great job recreating the tone and look of this era of the Caped Crusader's illustrious crimefighting career.

When a device meant to remove the evil from the criminal mind goes haywire, Gotham City’s D.A., Harvey Dent is transformed into the sinister split personality – Two-Face! Add in the crime creating chaos of Joker, Penguin, Riddler and the Dynamic Duo may be overwhelmed and outmatched. Can a helping claw from the coy Catwoman unravel this confounded case and foil Two-Face’s maniacal endgame in "Batman vs. Two-Face?"

I love how animation gives us the opportunity to see characters from Batman's Gallery of Rogues that the television series never brought to life. Two-Face is definitely one of the villains that would have fit perfectly in the colorful pop-art atmosphere of the 1960's show. When you think of an actor who was as successful and in the limelight at that time as Adam West, who else but William Shatner could possibly come to mind? As you watch "Batman vs. Two-Face," you'll marvel at how much the animated version of Two-Face resembles the actor voicing him.

The voice work and visual look for "Batman vs. Two-Face" match the actors who played them sometimes better than others. They all look pretty good with a few gripes I'll voice here. Why doesn't Alfred wear glasses? Why does Commissioner Gordon have a moustache? Why DOESN'T the Joker have a moustache under his facepaint? Okay, so maybe I AM being petty.

Imagine three episodes of the original series edited together or a second sequel ("Return of the Caped Crusaders" being the first) to the Batman movie from 1966 crafted through animation and you get a vision of what you can expect from "Batman vs. Two-Face." You're in for a great time with plenty of action, humor, and witty dialogue that the whole family can enjoy. We even get an interesting twist to the story of Harvey Dent and his ghastly alter ego.

"Batman vs. Two-Face" is a fitting tribute to the late Adam West, who passed away June 9th of this year. I don't know whether he saw the finished product, but he would no doubt be proud of the outcome of his hard work and feel that it captured the essence of the "Batman" TV series that jettisoned him to stardom and made him a household name. He was never shy about his love for the character and his particular portrayal of a more optimistic Caped Crusader.

"Batman vs. Two-Face" is rated PG for action, some mild language, and suggestive content. I can't remember any sort of profanity at all. There were a few spots where adult humor is hinted at, but they'll all go over the head of younger audiences. Teen viewers might catch them, however. It really has the same tone and sort of innocent atmosphere as the original television show for the most part.

The Blu-ray + DVD + Digital edition of "Batman vs. Two-Face" contains some nice bonus material. Burt Ward is the star or center of attention for many of them, such as "The Wonderful World of Burt Ward," "Burt Ward on Being Starstruck," and "Burt Ward on Ambition." Julie Newmar talks about inspiration in her featurette. We also get a chance to honor the Bright Knight with the "Adam West Tribute Panel, Comic-Con International 2017."

Rick Morales ("Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders") directed "Batman vs. Two-Face" from a script by Michael Jelenic ("Wonder Woman") and James Tucker ("Justice League Action"). It stars the voice talents of Adam West, Burt Ward, William Shatner, and Julie Newmar. The running time is 72 minutes.

"Batman vs. Two-Face" is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD.

Rating: ✮✮✮ and a half