Batman returns to his animated antics with Batman: The Long Halloween, a feature that throws audiences right into the fray. With the revision of the first feature etched into our memories, the final test begins. Most two-parters do well in their second half, for that is where the action lies. Better pacing, characters we are now comfortable with, and a collection of worrisome consequences for the high points and climax of the first. The issue there for Batman: The Long Halloween, Part 2 is that there wasn’t anything to bridge off of in the first. Its forgettability is the death knell, the final nail in the coffin for a two-parter that depended so thoroughly on an excellent set-up. There is not much salvaging to be done in this second half.
Director Chris Palmer returns, as he should, to finish off his own assassination attempt. Batman: The Long Halloween, Part 1 was the fumbled attempt at adapting the famed comic book of the same name to the big screen, this inevitable follow-up is the cleaning crew sent in to finish the job and set things right. They do so, and to their credit, Palmer understands this rather vividly. He knows he has another shot here to cobble together something worthwhile. He fumbles around with the art style a tad more, which feels far more amicable than the first, but animation cannot hide the threadbare storylines and loss of character justification. Batman: The Long Halloween, Part 2 is presented as a thorough adaptation, but even from a distant glance at the source material, much has changed, and the alternative is weak.
Its Scarecrow nightmares are well-realised and do offer some horror to it at least, but the trickeries that come after it are shoddy knock-offs. Blurred visions and wonderous moments where Bruce Wayne (Jensen Ackles) hallucinates and flashes back to the death of his parents. It wouldn’t be a Batman project without settling in to re-tell that old chestnut. But Palmer makes do with that tidbit of information. He cuts out court cases, removes witty writing, and instead replicates the humdrum pacing of the first. That much, he cannot improve upon. It is inherent to the tale he tells and the style he provides. His style is not without its delicate touches, but it is also lacking in what any good adaptation needs. Identity.
Batman: The Long Halloween, Part 2 does not have its own identity. It is the awkward bridge between art styles for a long-running series of adaptations, but it also tries to hack and slash at the bulk of the material it wishes to bring to the big screen. The bulk of the shortcomings found in Batman: The Long Halloween Part 1 are, more or less, improved upon here. Vaguely. It is a film that scrubs clean the draws of the comic which it is based upon, but even then, the end result is unique enough to offer something vaguely sentimental and engaging for fans of the Caped Crusader. But how far can it really be thrown when it demands so little from the original story, and changes so much?