Saturday, September 3, 2022

Stubs - Batman vs. Two-Face

Batman vs. Two-Face (2017) Voices of Adam West, Burt Ward, William Shatner, Julie Newmar. Directed by Rick Morales. Screenplay by Michael Jelenic, James Tucker. Based on Batman by William Dozier, Bob Kane, Bill Finger. Produced by Michael Jelenic. Run time: 72 minutes. United States. Color. Animated. Action. Superheroes. Direct to Video.

For DC and Warner Bros, Batman is a franchise that keeps on giving and one that they keep asking to give. Following the success of Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016), Warner Brothers Animation decided to go back again to the world of the 1960s Batman TV series created by William Dozier based on the comic book created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. This would prove to be the last time they could with Adam West, as this production wouldn’t be released until some four months after his death.

The film opens with Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) on their way to a meeting with Gotham District Attorney Harvey Dent (William Shatner) at a top-secret demonstration hosted by Professor Hugo Strange (Jim Ward).

Robin (Burt Ward) is not happy about Batman's (Adam West) relationship with Catwoman.

Batman has taken a detour and gone to see Catwoman (Julie Newmar), who is behind bars in jail. There is obviously love in the air, but Batman is firm that Catwoman has to pay for her past crimes.

Supervillains line up to have the Evil extracted from them.

At the demonstration, Strange promises that he has developed a process to remove the Evil from criminals. The machine is cleverly enough called the "Evil Extractor" and can siphon evil from criminals and store it in a vat.

Batman (Adam West) scoffs at Professor Strange's (Jim Ward) invention.

Batman openly scoffs at Strange’s invention, noting there is no easy path to righteousness, but the machine, operated by Strange’s assistant, Dr. Harleen Quinzel (Sirena Irwin), appears to work—too well. The Joker (Jeff Bergman) and the other villains laugh maniacally and overload the machine. The containment vat explodes, drenching Dent with liquified evil, which scars half his face and changes his personality.

Strange’s assistant is Dr. Harleen Quinzel (Sirena Irwin).

Harvey, now called Two-Face, sets out on a crime spree and Batman and Robin are there to spoil his efforts.

Bruce Wayne (Adam West) pays for Harvey Dent's (William Shanter) face to be reconstructed.

Harvey is also a close friend of Bruce Wayne (Adam West), who also pays for his face to have reconstructive surgery. Apparently, his sanity is also restored and he is allowed to go back to the District Attorney’s office but now only as the assistant to the Assistant District Attorney.

King Tut (Wally Wingert) returns to Gotham City.

Six months go by, and an old villain, King Tut (Wally Wingert), returns. With his henchmen, they steal a biplane and attack an Egyptian-themed event being attended by Aunt Harriet (Lynne Marie Stewart) and Alfred Pennyworth (Steven Weber) in Bruce and Dick Grayson’s place. Batman and Robin show up and while the civilians manage to escape, the Dynamic Duo is subdued and Tut and his men escape. Unbeknownst to Batman and Robin, the loot is taken by Two-Face's henchmen.

King Tut is captured and Batman, Robin, Commissioner Gordon (Jim Ward), and Chief O'Hara (Thomas Lennon) interrogate Professor William Omaha McElroy (Wally Wingert), an Egyptologist who becomes Tut when he’s concussed. Harvey waits in the shadows while O'Hara constantly hits the professor on the head with his truncheon to switch his personality, with Tut's stubborn attitude causing himself to bring back McElroy.

The interrogation is stopped when Public Defender Lucilee Diamond (Lee Meriwether) intervenes and ushers them out of the room so that she can speak with her client.

At Professor McElroy's trial, Diamond implicates that the concussion is nothing more than a threat to a mild-mannered man and she makes Chief O'Hara confess to hitting McElroy. Harvey calls Batman as his next witness, but Professor McElroy himself admits his guilt and is ready to suffer the minimum penalty of being rehabilitated in prison.

After the sentencing, Harvey shares a highball with Bruce Wayne, much to Dick's annoyance. He feels that Harvey is coming between him and Bruce and between Robin and Batman.

Harvey is busy organizing a charity event for underprivileged fraternal twins at the Winning Pair casino.

A mysterious package arrives at Commissioner Gordon's office for Batman.

Meanwhile, a mysterious package arrives at Commissioner Gordon's office, a World Atlas bookmarked for Batman, with its pages eaten away. Robin surmises the culprit to be Bookworm (Jeff Bergman) and the duo race off in the Batmobile to find him at the Gotham City Library. There, a fight ensues and no one notices that the three priceless books that Bookworm had his eyes on have disappeared.

Batman and Robin deduce that the stolen books were all about duality, but Two-Face has already been reformed and so they look for another suspect. This leads them to an abandoned sign factory with Two-Face and his henchmen waiting for them. After Batman and Robin defeat the goons, Two-Face manages to pin them with a large number two, but the flip of his coin spares their lives.

Now free, Batman can’t believe that it was really Harvey, but rather one of the assistant Assistant D.A.’s enemies out to destroy him.

Meanwhile, Harvey is having some problems of his own after he makes a phone call to none other than Two-Face, who kidnaps Professor Strange as part of their scheme.

After Robin and Batman get into a row about Harvey's involvement in Two-Face's plans, Robin is sent to his room.

Catwoman exchanges places with Lucilee Diamond (Lee Meriwether).

Catwoman, who had been waiting for Batman to visit, escapes her cell by switching places with Lucilee Diamond. She manages to knock out the lawyer and change clothes with her. Both look close enough for each to be mistaken for the other and that happens the next morning when Diamond tries to convince the guard she is not Catwoman.

Robin gets corrupted by Evil gas.

Robin, who has never liked Harvey, disobeys Batman and follows Harvey to a laboratory. There he is ambushed by Two-Face. Later, under Two-Face’s observation, Professor Strange corrupts Robin with some of the gas from the extractor that mutates the left side of his body.

Batman is forced to fight his beloved sidekick and later cures him back at the Batcave. Together again, they follow Two-Face to the casino, where he is revealed to be Dent, having suppressed his bad side (รก la Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde). Caught, the Dynamic Duo are strapped to a large silver dollar and Two-Face unmasks Batman and deduces Robin's true identity, as well.

Joker (Jeff Bergman), Penguin (William Salyers), Riddler (Wally Wingert)
are invited to bid on learning Batman's true identity.

Then Two-Face invites Joker (Jeff Bergman), Penguin (William Salyers), Riddler (Wally Wingert), Mr. Freeze, Egghead, Shame, Clock King and Catwoman to bid at an auction to be the highest bidder of Batman's true identity. With Catwoman’s help, Batman and Robin defeat the villains, but Two-Face manages to get away in the biplane King Tut had stolen earlier.

Batman and Robin (Burt Ward) make amends before Batman goes to fight Two-Face.

Using the plane, Two-Face intends to use the evil gas that disfigured him to remake Gotham City in his image. People on the street are disfigured and transformed into Two-Face-like forms. The Dynamic Duo manages to shoot him down towards a factory that explodes. Before they go in, Batman and Robin talk about their importance to each other and Batman sends his ward away to stay safe.

Two-face eventually consumes Harvey Dent's personality.

Batman then goes one on one with Two-Face, who has now completely taken over Harvey's body. Two-Face gets the better of Batman, who in the fight has replaced his coin with one with no face on either side. In a battle of wits, Batman uses Two-Face’s confusion to urge Harvey to regain self-control and he does, defeating Two-Face for good as they escape the factory.

Batman fights Two-Face and later defeats him.

The next morning, Batman and Robin use the Batwing to cure the infected Gotham City residents by dropping bombs and firing rounds releasing the antidote.

Months later, Harvey, who now appears to have repressed Two-Face and forgotten Batman's secret identity, holds a bachelor auction at Wayne Manor for his charity. The Caped Crusader himself is the first bachelor and to his delight, Catwoman outbids everyone else.

The beauty of animation is that the stories can be larger than life and, in this case, bigger than the original TV series would have been able to tell. One can only imagine that the series would not have been able to afford the special effects that, as an example, an exploding chemical factory would have cost to make believable, even though the viewers at the time might not have been too demanding.

Still, the story tries to be true to the tone of that TV series, which is a mix of camp, righteousness, and action. Like the original series, everything is labeled and to the extreme, making them part of the humor of the show. Even abandoned buildings are labeled as abandoned buildings, etc.

Obviously, having Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar reprise their original roles adds a certain credibility to the proceedings. These are the roles that, for better or worse, define their careers and they do justice with these versions and do not to tarnish that legacy. Having Lee Merriweather, who also played Catwoman, voice one of the other characters was a nice touch.

The other main voice work is done by another TV icon from the same era, William Shatner, made famous by his starring role in the original Star Trek series. It makes for a nostalgic view, especially for someone who watched either show when they were first released or in reruns. He gives a good read as Harvey Dent and doesn’t play up the campiness of the part the way others have.

While the leads seem very comfortable with their roles, the other voice actors are very good at recreating the “original” series sounds.

The animation is good and serviceable but nothing really spectacular compared to most studio animation out there. The characters of Batman, Robin, and Catwoman look enough like the TV show to be acceptable and Harvey Dent is drawn to resemble what Shatner would have looked like when the original series aired.

If you’re a fan of the original TV series, then there is enough in Batman vs. Two-Face for you to enjoy. Hopefully, though, this direct-to-video film is not your first introduction to the multilayered legacy of Batman.

No comments:

Post a Comment