3 1/2 Stars
I’ve always held the Batman (1966) television show close to my heart. It played on re-runs every day after school during my adolescence, it’s a show that hasn’t aged well, but the simplicity and dated campiness are part of its everlasting charm. The recent loss of Batman icon Adam West, here with his last performance in the caped cowl, is a reason to savor the new animated project Batman vs Two-Face.
Dr. Hugo Strange’s experiment to extract the evil from Gotham’s worst criminals backfires and instead turns D.A. Harvey Dent (William Shatner) into the reprehensible villain known as Two-Face. A series of plastic surgery procedures have restored Dent’s facial features, but within six months Harvey’s criminal impulses begin to re-manifest.All of the colorful criminals of Gotham make an appearance, not only series mainstays Joker and Penguin, but even Egghead and Pharoe have a part in the story. The crucial element of fun is present throughout the entirety of the cartoon’s 72 minutes running time.
There are so many different avenues Batman has been taken down in animated form. The Mask of the Phantasm is still the high water mark in terms of visual design, score, and writing, Under the Red Hood was also an exemplary example of the sub-genre, and Year One was captivating, but the Batman ’66 series is so colorful in style and execution that I’m drawn to them over the others. If there is a complaint to be had it’s in the animation technique. The visuals aren’t as bright or clean as they were in the Return of the Caped Crusader. That quibble aside this loving and smart homage to the character’s mid-nineteenth-century incarnation is a delight.
Director: Rick Morales