Batman: The Long Halloween Part Two (2021)
Directed by Chris Palmer
Written by Tim Sheridan
Based on the Graphic Novel by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
Produced by James Krieg and Kimberly S. Moreau
Rated R, 1hr 27min
In my review of Part One, I opined a suspicion that Part Two was going to go where it shouldn’t. I wasn’t exactly correct, but I wasn’t entirely wrong, either. Because this second part deviates from the source material just as much as the first part, and that’s annoying.
Owing to the constraints of time, likely, we skip right over the murders for Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day and move into an extended period of time where Bruce Wayne (Jensen Ackles) is under the influence of Poison Ivy (Katee Sackhoff). Now, the battle between Ivy and Catwoman (Naya Rivera) is a fairly accurate rendition of what we have in the book, but its position in the story’s chronology is slightly off, as bits and pieces are shuffled around and put into a different order. Not sure why that would be necessary. It doesn’t seem to have made any improvement in the plot.
Of course, we have the requisite Crime Alley Moment™ — is there some sort of contractual obligation to put this scene in every bit of Batman filmed media?
I still don’t like that Selina knows Bruce’s secret identity. That takes away from the book, where Bruce couldn’t figure out why she was helping him. Sometimes. When she felt like it. Now, with a relationship where they know each other’s alter-ego, it takes a way some of the layers of mystery for Bruce to figure out. And the reveal of why Selina is so interested in Carmine Falcone, the Roman (Titus Welliver), is so ham-fisted and lazy that I couldn’t even work up the energy to roll my eyes.
Speaking of Falcone, there’s a scene in the film that’s not in the book: a discussion between young Bruce Wayne (Zach Callison) and Carmine Falcone. While Falcone is on the Wayne Manor dining table after having been saved by Dr. Thomas Wayne (Robin Atkin Downes, also playing Scarecrow). Now, keep in mind that Falcone has been shot multiple times and had just undergone rudimentary field surgery on a dining table nowhere near a hospital. Yet he’s able to have an absolutely clear, lucid conversation with a teenager, conveniently slipping in the old canard about criminals being superstitious. It’s a completely unnecessary extension of the “save my boy” scene in the book.
Another new addition is the attack on Harvey at the docks. Didn’t happen in the book, and it feels like it’s a piece of the story that’s in there to get us from one point to another in Harvey’s arc with fewer scenes.
Now, before it starts to appear that I totally hated this thing (I didn’t), let me add one positive: it was good to see Montoya and Allen, brief thought it was.
I guess in the end, what annoys me is that I should like this more than I do. It’s a good Batman story. It has all the hallmarks of a story that will hold up on multiple viewings. And the performances are very good, too. There’s not a sloppy voice anywhere to be found. But I can’t get past the fact that too much has been changed, and those changes seem relatively arbitrary. As a writer, I can see some utility in some of the new material, but the overall changes in the plot leave me wanting to see an actual adaptation of the original book by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale.