Wayne Rock, Comic to Screen Head Writer
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
The Long Halloween, Part 2 is a fantastic companion piece and continuation of the story and set up in Part I. The film opens immediately following Part I’s end credits scene, with Bruce Wayne under Poison Ivy’s control as she forces him to sign over control of Wayne Enterprises and its assets to Carmine Falcone. This is all put to an end when Catwoman intervenes and foils Ivy’s scheme in a very stylish opening action sequence.
It is then revealed that Bruce has been out of commission for three months and the Holiday Killer is still at large. The hunt for Holiday still continues, but the story becomes largely focused on Harvey Dent’s transformation into Two-Face, Falcone’s increasingly desperate attempts to stop his entire family from being wiped out, Batman and Catwoman’s burgeoning relationship and Batman’s tendency to get knocked out, I guess.
Part II functions mostly as a conclusion to the stellar plot of the first film, wrapping up storylines but also serving up fresh new clues, twists and turns. The narrative is still compelling if not a bit less tight in its execution. The minor issues I had may have just been carried over from the graphic novel. For example, Poison Ivy controlling Bruce Wayne was such a huge plot point that they ended the last movie on that cliffhanger, but ultimately there’s no real payoff or impact to the story at large other than to say, “Oh yeah, Poison Ivy is in this movie”.
Similarly, a huge battle between Batman, Catwoman and a good portion of Batman’s fiercest rogues was a much-needed burst of energy in the film and was beautifully animated, but it just felt tacked on. I found myself questioning how Harvey (now Two-Face) was able to rally these villains under his command when the film didn’t bother to address how they were all able to get over the “You’re the former DA who put us all in here” hurdle. These were just minor nitpicks in an otherwise great film.
I loved how the movie used the infamous double-headed coin as a symbol linking Bruce, Harvey and Falcone together. I found Bruce questioning his parents’ ideologies and decisions to be very compelling storytelling. Even though I knew the final reveal going in, I think the film actually improves on the conclusion of the graphic novel. Yes, I said that this DC animated film improved the ending of one of the greatest Batman stories of all time.
Major Spoilers Follow: In the original comic the Holiday Killer is revealed to be Alberto Falcone, who faked his death on New Year’s Eve and then proceeded to kill everyone who could potentially identify him. In a second twist, it is revealed that there was a second Holiday Killer, Gilda Dent, who perpetrated the first three murders, hoping to start a gang war so that Harvey would have more free time to start a family with her (hence all the baby talk). I never really was a fan of this reveal as it felt all to disconnected and a bit unearned. There weren’t enough clues for the audience to figure out anything and that makes for a bad mystery.
The film uses elements from the comic to craft its own new ending where Gilda was Alberto’s ex-lover, cast out from the Falcone family for getting pregnant out of wedlock, the baby being terminated in a final act of torture. Gilda’s actions as the Holiday Killer were those of revenge for a life stolen from her and her relationship with Harvey was supposed to be a means to an end, but she truly fell in love with him. This ending was a lot more believable (despite all the shots of Holiday clearly looking like a man) and emotional than its comic counterpart, made even more poignant by Gilda confessing to Batman who lets her go, clearly satisfied with Gilda’s explanation and promise. This ultimately ties back into Bruce’s conversation with Alfred about choices. Some very nuanced and compelling stuff.
Most of the characters we meet again in this second part lack the same initial impact they did in the first film. Remember how much I praised Calendar Man’s short but effective scene in the first film? Well, the character shows up again in this film and it is nothing like his presence in Part I, and I felt he was ultimately wasted. The same cannot be said for Harvey Dent and his twisted alter ego, as Two-Face is brought to life in a masterful performance by Josh Duhamel. If Jensen Ackles impressed me in the first film, Josh Duhamel blew me away in Part II. His Harvey Dent performance carries with it the weight of a man focused on justice but also burdened and frustrated by lack of progress and corruption. His transformation to Two-Face takes the acting to a whole other level as he channels his best Richard Moll (who played Two-Face on Batman: TAS). This isn’t insulting in the least, in fact, it is quite the opposite. Duhamel’s Two-Face has all the gravitas and commanding presence as Moll’s did and became an instant hit. I also like how this film went a different route with the way Two-Face is typically portrayed, with the Two Face persona fully taking over and exacting his version of justice on those he deemed deserving.
The gorgeous animation style is apparent again and reinforces how well it works for a Batman film. In the post-credits scene two guest characters show up, who I won’t spoil here, but their presence in the film felt jarring in terms of the style. Outside of Batman movies, this new style will definitely take some getting used to.
Batman: The Long Halloween, Part II isn’t as well-paced or quite as airtight as its predecessor, but the stunning animation, well-choreographed action scenes, compelling storytelling, brilliant twists, and effective changes to the source material more than deliver.
Wayne’s Score: I give it an 8 out of 10 and my full recommendation.
So how would you rate The Long Halloween, Part 2? And you can check out more animated adventures of the Caped Crusader below:
Wayne loves to complain, and that was an unintentional rhyme. When I’m not watching movies, TV, anime or trophy hunting on PS4, you can usually find me deep in my thoughts preparing my next scathing review of a bad movie. I think Zack Snyder’s take on superheroes is terrible and that The Quick and the Dead is actually a decent movie. I re-watch Death Note every year. Unlike the other fine writers on this site, I’m not a critic, but I can definitely Rock a review…(Read More)