Release Date(s)2021 (September 20, 2022)
Studio(s)DC Entertainment/Warner Bros Animation (Warner Home Video)
- Film/Program Grade: A-
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: C+
DC and Warner Bros Animation have been on a roll for several years now, adapting every major and minor DC graphic novel and comic book series with mostly positive results. Outside of The Dark Knight Returns and The Killing Joke (which they also adapted), The Long Halloween is considered one of the top tier Batman stories. Epic and sprawling in its scope, it features many of the characters from that universe, including a new origin story for Two-Face, and deals with the world of Gotham and its criminal underbelly in a more personal and down-to-earth way. Lasting for thirteen issues, it’s a fascinating read. Astute readers and fans will be keenly aware that it was also partly the basis for Christopher Nolan’s main storyline in The Dark Knight, especially as it pertains to the relationship between Batman, Commissioner Gordon, and Harvey Dent (as well as The Batman in regards to Catwoman).
This new animated adaptation of The Long Halloween is a gorgeous and admirable attempt at making the story work in another medium. It’s a mostly successful endeavor, giving most of the characters depth and clear definition with a slick and classic art style. It makes some obvious alterations along the way, including changing a few of the characters (even dropping a couple of them altogether), but it’s an otherwise faithful representation of its source material, carrying over its intended tone well. Some may find an elongated story that’s light on action and more about character connections and mystery less intriguing than battles with major villains, but for others, it’s like candy. Featuring a voice cast that includes Jensen Ackles, Josh Duhamel, Billy Burke, the late Naya Rivera, Titus Welliver, Katee Sackhoff, Troy Baker, and David Dastmalchian, The Long Halloween is breath of fresh air that brings the original books to life in a compelling and satisfactory way.
The nephew of one of Gotham’s biggest crime bosses, Carmine Falcone, is murdered by an unknown killer known as “Holiday” on the night of Halloween, leaving a jack-o-lantern behind at the scene of the crime. Though Falcone has his share of enemies, who did the killing is a mystery. Commissioner Gordon, Batman, and Harvey Dent meet on the roof of police headquarters, vowing to take Falcone down and discover who Holiday is. Watching closely nearby, Catwoman intervenes and aids Batman while also performing a secret investigation of her own. In the months that follow, more murders occur as Dent begins having a schizophrenic break, eventually becoming the criminally insane Two-Face. Both Maroni and Falcone continue to war with each other, even as Holiday continues to murder members of their respective families, inching closer and closer to both of them. As Two-Face rampages with Gotham’s deadliest foes by his side, Batman and Catwoman are forced to defend Falcone. And when the dust settles, the identity of Holiday will finally be revealed.
Batman: The Long Halloween was animated digitally at 2K resolution in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Warner Home Video originally released the film on Blu-ray in two parts (which we reviewed here and here). The 4K Ultra HD debut is presented as one continuous film, and graded for high dynamic range (HDR10 is the only option). Presented on a dual-layered 66gb disc, the results are not very dramatic. Textures are enhanced, and the color grade widens the gamut to allow for richer hues, but there’s a minimal jump in terms of overall clarity. As stated in the Blu-ray reviews for the film, the color palette offers a variety of hues, both bold and subtle. Since the film takes place in Gotham City during different seasons within different environments, there’s a rich tapestry of colors and locations with high levels of fine detail. Lines around characters are thick, sharp, and well defined, as are textures on backgrounds and animations. Highlights and shadows play an integral part of the film’s art style, which are generally excellent. Because the nearly 3-hour film and its accompanying extra have been squeezed onto a more compact UHD disc with a lackluster encode, there are still moments of banding and pixellated artifacts. They’re not prominent throughout the presentation, but they do crop up. The HDR enhances the presentation with blacks that are otherwise solid with deep, detail-oriented shadows and excellent contrast. However, this is a presentation that demands far more disc space and a higher encode than it’s receiving here. It’s by no means terrible, but it could be better.
The audio is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio with additional 5.1 Dolby Digital options in French and Spanish. Subtitle options include English SDH, French, and Spanish. The DTS-HD track is impressive as it captures the many surroundings in and around Gotham City with both nuance and explosiveness. Crisp dialogue exchanges and a haunting score by Michael Gatt envelope the listener. Sound effects are placed all around, sometimes as minor as rain and footsteps, and other times as blasts of gunfire. The sewers of Gotham are full of echoes and reverberations that wrap around the soundstage, while quieter moments between characters in above-ground locations are discreet and deftly handled. It’s an effective track.
Batman: The Long Halloween on 4K Ultra HD sits in a black amaray case alongside a Blu-ray of the film in 1080p, as well as Digital code on a paper insert. The following extras are included on each disc:
DISC ONE: UHD
- Batman: The Long Halloween – Evolution of Evil (24:56)
DISC TWO: BD
- Batman: The Long Halloween – Evolution of Evil (24:56)
- From the DC Vault – Batman: The Animated Series – Two Face Part 1 (22:25)
- From the DC Vault – Batman: The Animated Series – Two Face Part 2 (22:28)
- From the DC Vault – Batman: The Animated Series – Christmas with the Joker (22:23)
- From the DC Vault – Batman: The Animated Series – It’s Never Too Late (22:23)
- Preview of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part One (12:34)
- Preview of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part Two (6:51)
- Preview of Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (8:28)
- Preview of Batman: Hush (9:16)
Evolution of Evil is a new documentary that explores the story, its origins, themes, and characters. It features interviews with writer Jeph Loeb, supervising producer Butch Lukic, clinical psychologist Drea Letamendi, Ph.D., writer Tim Sheridan, and producer Jim Krieg. It doesn’t speak much about the film itself, but it offers a decent discussion about Batman, Two-Face, Commissioner Gordon, Carmine Falcone, the rogues gallery of villains, and Gilda Dent. Also included are four episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, which tie in with the characters and events in The Long Halloween. The rest of the extras consist of previews for The Dark Knight Returns, Gotham by Gaslight, and Hush. Not carried over from the previous Part One and Part Two Blu-ray releases of the film are The Losers and Blue Beetle animated one-shots, and sneak peeks of Batman: The Long Halloween – Part Two and Injustice.
The Deluxe Edition 4K UHD presentation of Batman: The Long Halloween isn’t quite the stunner that was hoped for, but it’s nowhere near poor either. It just doesn’t tower over its Blu-ray predecessors like it should. It’s a fine release, but the film deserves even more deluxe treatment, despite this release’s prominent “deluxe” moniker.
- Tim Salmons