Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem
In the goal to make more DVD movies suitable for kids — since no matter how long or often people say it’s not true, some insist on believing that superhero cartoons should always be ok for children — DC and Warner have released Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem. It’s a sequel to Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts, which I haven’t seen, and a tie-in to a toy line, which accounts for the different costumes than I expected and the variety of vehicles used. At one point, Batman sends a robot wolf after the Joker’s van for no explained reason, but there’s a toy version.
I know they wanted to make sure it was on shelves in time for the season, but it’s a little weird watching a Halloween show in August. Here are the four main heroes — Batman, Nightwing, Red Robin, and Green Arrow — laying out the conflict:
Voices are done by Roger Craig Smith (Batman), Yuri Lowenthal (Red Robin), Will Friedle (Nightwing), and Chris Diamantopoulos (Green Arrow).
As explained, Scarecrow, Clayface, Silver Banshee, and Solomon Grundy are running amok on Halloween night. Turns out it’s all a plot by the Joker.
Cyborg (Khary Payton, who also played the Lego version and the character in Teen Titans Go!) also guest-stars:
Good choice to get a technology expert, since the Joker’s plot involves a computer virus.
This is pretty generic, the kind of thing I’d expect if a studio head requested a new Batman story with plenty of characters suitable for a younger audience. Lots of fights and action scenes loosely tied together, little motivation beyond “good guys and bad guys”, but different sequences kids could recreate with the action figures they bought. Animation is serviceable but nothing struck me as outstanding.
I was surprised by how boy-centric this world was shown to be. All the characters are male except for Silver Banshee, a talking-head newsreader on screen, a silly old woman at a museum event, and the friend of a video game designer. His name is Gogo Shoto, and she (wearing a cat shirt and pleated skirt) turns into a super-fighter and attacks him while he’s debugging. I was making fun of the new Lego movie yesterday for giving Wonder Woman the role of The Girl, but at least they put her in as a token. This one doesn’t bother with any female heroes. There is, however, Batman riding a robot dinosaur.
I previously posted the trailer and information on the extra cartoons included. There’s also an eleven-and-a-half-minute featurette about the setting and world design. I didn’t realize this was a) set in the future or b) influenced by trying to be a bridge between current Gotham City and the world of Batman Beyond. (The studio provided a review copy.)