Batman vs. Two-Face
This 72-minute sequel to Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is a blast to watch but kind of a mess if you stop and think about it. So, in that way, Batman vs. Two-Face is faithful to the original 1960s Batman TV show inspiration.
It was wonderfully nostalgic to again hear Adam West as Batman, although it made me melancholy, since this was his last film role. Who else, though, could do a scene where the hero is “dating” Catwoman (Julie Newmar) by perching outside her prison window and reading poetry to her, while Robin (Burt Ward) stews in the Batmobile?
The new celebrity voice here is William Shatner as Harvey Dent, district attorney and long-time friend of Bruce Wayne. His cartoon likeness is pretty decent, best in the movie, and his voice work is outstanding. Who better to play someone who spends a lot of time arguing with himself?
Overall, the animation doesn’t come close to living up to the voice work. There are odd-shaped heads, skinny bodies, and various shortcuts taken. The plot’s all over the place, and the script has some bits in there just to make fans giggle, such as a version of the Batman slapping panel that’s been all over the internet, or a comment by Robin about “the size of those balls!” in a giant pool table.
The plot starts when Hugo Strange (Jim Ward) demonstrates a new invention that they’re testing at Gotham Penitentiary (because that’s never a problem). It promises to remove the evil from criminals by sticking them under what looks like old beehive hair dryers and pulling glowing green gas out of them. He’s assisted by Dr. Quinzel (Sirena Irwin), a brassy-voiced blonde in a short skirt. So I guess Harley Quinn is about to enter the 60s Batman universe.
Also appearing in the movie are King Tut (Wally Wingert), Bookworm (Jeff Bergman), and in smaller cameos, the Joker (Jeff Bergman), the Penguin (William Salyers), the Riddler (Wally Wingert), Egghead, Mr. Freeze, Shame, and Clock King. We see favorites Commissioner Gordon (Jim Ward), Chief O’Hara (Thomas Lennon), Alfred (Steven Weber, of all people!), and Aunt Harriet (Lynne Marie Stewart). The other notable guest voice is Lee Meriwether (another former Catwoman) as public defender Lucilee Diamond.
That evil experiment, of course, goes wrong, creating Two-Face, although the movie quickly jumps ahead to a plastic surgery attempt to repair Dent. Two-Face is probably the best-known Batman villain never to appear on the original TV show (unless you want to argue for Poison Ivy). There’s plenty of action with him during the opening credits, a nice way to do the sequence, but there’s not much Two-Face during the first half-hour or so. The plot is more complex than just facing off with the villain, and there’s an underlying theme of jealousy, with Dick and Harvey competing to be Bruce’s best friend. (Another wink at the fans.)
Finally, I can maybe (maybe) believe one’s mental state affecting the appearance of one’s skin, but how does that change the color of a suit jacket?
In “The Wonderful World of Burt Ward” (14 1/2 minutes), the Robin actor talks about his memories of getting the part and events during the role. The second half is about some miracle dog food he developed and remembering Adam West.
The Adam West Tribute Panel from Comic-Con International 2017 (39 1/2 minutes) features radio personality Ralph Garman, Kevin Smith, producer James Tucker, Lee Meriwether, and moderator Gary Miereanu. It’s pretty rambly and slow to get going but there are some nice stories near the end, before they conclude with some recent West interview clips.
Three short clips feature “Burt Ward on Being Starstruck” (2 min); “Burt Ward on Ambition” (1 min); and “Julie Newmar on Inspiration” (2 min). The sneak peeks are for the previously released Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 and Part 2. There’s also an unlabeled 30-second Easter Egg.