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One of the greatest animated shows of all time, in my humble opinion, would have to be the nineties Warner Bros made Batman: The Animated Series. The multiple Emmy Award winning cartoon captured the feel of the character like no other Batman adaptation has before or since thanks to its mature storylines, dark feel and excellent musical score. For fans left wanting more after watching the show's four seasons there are three movies to check out namely Mask of the Phantasm, Sub Zero and the film I am covering today Mystery of the Batwoman.
The movie starts with the emergence of Batwoman, Gotham City's newest costumed crime fighter (not to be confused with Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl.) For her debut Batwoman foils an illegal weapon shipment organised by Mafioso Rupert Thorne, Carlton Duquesne and the always smartly dressed Penguin. You would think that Batman would be glad to have some help in cleaning up the streets of crime, but he isn't amused by the arrival of the pointy eared beauty. She isn't paying him royalties for using his bat trademark for a start and more worryingly, unlike Batman who punishes villains but never kills, Batwoman seems to have no regard for the lives of the crooks she faces.
It's up to Batman, the world's greatest detective, to solve the mystery of the Batwoman and discover her true identity. Joining the cast of familiar Gotham characters like Robin, Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Bullock are three new female characters :-
1. Kathy Duquesne: The attractive daughter of Carlton Duquesne. Acts like a spoiled rich kid who loves spending daddy's ill gotten gains on dresses and fast cars. Doesn't seem to be too close to her father who she blames for the death of her mother.
2. Rocky Ballantine: A genius (be it clumsy) scientist who has discovered how to make free forming metal. Works for Wayne Enterprises and proves that not all blondes are airheads.
3. Sonia Alcana: Cop in the Gotham Police Department who has got the unenviable gig of being Detective Bullock's new partner. Decided to join the force after criminals ruined her family's business.
Now maybe I am being a tad cynical, but I think it's highly coincidental that a movie dealing with uncovering the identity of a female superhero suddenly introduces three ladies we have never met before. Anyone watching is likely to assume that Batwoman is one of the above mentioned gals and they may or may not be correct. Batman does investigate one or more of them, but like many good mysteries just when you think you know who the guilty party is something happens that proves their innocence.
Of course the three suspects in question could just be a red herring. Don't discount the possibility that Batwoman is someone else. The three girls I mentioned have similar builds so you cannot guess based on body appearance or even voice (the actress playing Batwoman doesn't voice any other characters in the film to preserve the guessing game.) Gee how exciting, this is like a Scooby Doo case. My money is on Batwoman being old man Jenkins from the abandoned amusement park. Someone go fetch Bat Hound a Scooby snack.
You'll have to watch the movie to find out what happens (or Wikipedia it naughty, naughty.) I won't spoil the surprise, but will say that the whole thing ends with some exciting action on a cruise liner being used to smuggle arms. Batman is pursuing Batwoman who is in turn chasing the bad guys. She may however have bitten more than she can chew as the Penguin and his cronies have hired Bane, the masked muscleman who in the past has broken Batman's back, to protect the shipment. I think fans of the animated series will be satisfied with how things conclude.
As you would expect the voice acting in this movie is superb. Most of the actors responsible for the main characters are veterans from the TV series who know their roles inside out. For me Kevin Conroy will always be Batman. His voice fits the part perfectly so I always have a tough time adjusting to someone else voicing Batman in other cartoons or video games. Visually speaking the artwork is pleasing on the eye, but not overly detailed. They have gone for the clean and simple look of the fourth season (also known as The New Batman Adventures.) The animation is crisp bringing to life the action scenes which boast some good acrobatic fights.
The brighter less gritty arts style actually works quite well to set the tone of the movie. Unlike the overly serious Mask of the Phantasm, that is heavy on atmosphere and character development, what we get here is a more light hearted fun adventure. Batman is a no nonsense type of guy, but a large part of the story has Bruce Wayne out of the costume were he adopts a more relaxed personality. The supporting cast keep things from getting overly serious with sidekick Robin and Batman's butler Alfred having some pretty funny lines. I especially enjoyed Batgirl's cameo were she jealously calls up Bruce Wayne to ask who Batwoman is. It's cute how she hints that he may be cheating on her whilst she is out of town.
When speaking to Batman fans the general consensus seems to be that Mystery of the Batwoman is the weakest of the animated movies featuring the Dark Knight. That may be, as the bar was set high in prior releases, but I still enjoyed this loads. My only gripe is that after investigating two suspects Batman works out who Batwoman is in a matter of seconds. It looked like they were rushing to wrap things up which I don't understand as the running time barely exceeds seventy minutes. Nothing major though. I still enjoyed the movie enough to award it four stars. If you disagree with my assessment I will punch you in the face Batman style (SOCK! POW! BONG!)
Review originally posted on Ciao.
The animated series of DC's premiere human hero, Batman, have been massively popular the world over for more than a decade now. By creating a dark, mysterious world with stylised and colourful animation Warner Bros have managed to get the perfect blend of look and story to excite both young and old alike.
The Batman animated series not only spawned a bunch of other successful series (five at last count:- Superman, Batman Beyond, Teen Titans, Justice League and even Krypto the super-dog) but also a movie length series of stories of which this 2003 offering is but one. Warner Bros move into movie length versions of the series enabled the creators to envisage a more in depth story with more characterisation and more mystery than can be squeezed into a 22 minute episode. This particular film, Mystery of the Batwoman, may only be 70 minutes long but they cram a lot of story into it.
The Penguin, Rupert Thorne (a crooked businessman) and DuQuesne (a mobster) have all teamed up to use their various skills and talents to build high tech weapons, which they plan to sell to any willing buyers who can afford them.
Their first big shipment is attacked and stopped by Gothams' greatest hero, or so it seems. This bat dressed superhero isn't Batman, or even Batgirl. It is a new hero clothed in the style of Batman, a female hero who is very soon given the name of Batwoman by the press and media.
While the press and citizens of Gotham think that Batman has a new ally this new look a like is completely unknown to the man himself. Unhappy about a new vigilante trading on his name and look and unsure about the real motives of this new female hero Batman begins to investigate. These investigations become all the more urgent when it seems that this new Batwoman has no compunction about her methods of stopping the criminals she confronts.
Bruce Wayne, the other side of Batman, is also given a good share of screen time. His playboy, devil may care persona turns up a lot more than other films I've watched and I think that is one of the reasons I really like this film. While Batman is a remarkable character it is the differences between the two sides of the man and the questions over which is the real man and which is the one hiding under a mask that makes the character so interesting.
What will Batman do though when he finally manages to get his hands on Batwoman and finds out what the trio of villains are up to?
The Mystery of Batwoman is one of the best of the full length films that spun out of the TV series. It has an intriguing little story, a good dose of action (it also includes the super strong & viscous villain Bane), a pinch of mystery and some gorgeous animation. It does go a long way to show that, even now, good quality 2-D animation can be as stunning to look at as the 3-D style that Pixar excel at.
The byword for any Batman animated series product is excellence. Excellence in animation, in story, in dialogue and in its choice of voice actors, in none of these areas does MOB fail. It keeps up the quality level you expect and if you have ever enjoyed and episode of the series from the 90's to the new one now then this is well worth a watch. It is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.
Having mentioned the voice actors I will add that whereas Batman the animated series has generally gone for top quality vocal actors, Kevin Conroy has played Batman for years now and who has heard of him?, the films do get some well known names. This time around we have Hector Elizondo, Kyra Sedgwick & David Ogden Stiers. I'm undecided about this tactic as I find a recognisable voice can detract from the story, especially if I am trying to work out who they are! Sedgwick though has the perfect voice for animation, sexy and authoritative, and isn't recognisable enough that she infringes on the film.
Chase Me - A short cartoon with Batman chasing Catwoman across the city. I like this a lot, silent, very short and very stylish music accompanying it. Class all round!
Behind The Mystery - A short featurette with the voice actors involved.
Batman P.O.V. - A discussion feature with the writers, character designer and music writer about how they work together. Surprisingly this is actually one of the most interesting features I have watched on a DVD.
The Making of a scene - How a scene is put together, 2 minutes long.
Batcave Profiles - Profiles of the major players in the film and is completely pointless!
Batgadgets - Info on the Batvehicles seen in the film.
As Batman tries to uncover the secret identity of a new vigilante in the guise of a Batwoman, he comes to realize that she has targeted a criminal consortium headed by Penguin. When Batwoman is captured by Bane, whom Penguin has hired to oversee the export of illegal weapons, its up to Batman to save her, defeat bane and stop the shipment of arms from Gotham harbour.