“Beware the Batman”: Season One, Part One is an interesting entry into the series with some fun CGI animation, good voice performances and some innovative inventions in the Dark Knight’s arsenal to the point I hope can be integrated into the new franchise. Still, it’s not perfect and of course doesn’t come close to “The Animated Series”, but if you can look past the big changes, it’s an entertaining ride.
“Beware the Batman”: Season 1, Part 1
Genre(s): Animation, Action, Adventure
Warner Home Video | NR – 285 min. – $21.99 | February 18, 2014
THE MOVIE – 3.75/5
Batman has been interpreted in a variety of ways through the decades from camp of the 1960s television series to serious, dark and brooding of the Nolan movies. In between the two, though, there was “Batman: The Animated Series”, a great show even today and gold standard for the character that some, myself included, would like to see some elements adopted for a live action film.
Following the cancellation of the wonderfully loony “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” started over with a new show entitled “Beware the Batman”, a CG series with a new take on The Dark Knight: gone are the classic Bat-villains like The Joker and Catwoman replaced by lesser known’s such as the sensual Magpie, the chaotic Anarky and the strangely menacing Professor Pyg and his sidekick, Mister Toad.
“BTB” follows the exploits of Batman (voiced by ANTHONY RUIVIVAR) as he takes on the criminal elements of Gotham City but gets help from ex-MI6 agent and butler Alfred Pennyworth (JB BLANC) who is much more a fighter in this version than in any other incarnation. After breaking his ankle in the series opener “Hunted”, he enlists the help of his god-daughter Tatsu Yamashiro (SUMALEE MONTANO) to be the driver for Bruce and eventually, after some tests, sidekick to Batman. Also included in the show is Lieutenant James Gordon (KURTWOOD SMITH) who not a fan of the vigilante albeit garners more respect for him as the season progressed and also introduced to his daughter, Barbara Gordon (TARA STRONG).
The animation style, along with the character changes, might be a turn-off to viewers. It’s CGI like been done with the “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” series and while it is at first a bit off-putting, I kind of dug what the animators were doing considering the numerous animated incarnations that have been done with the character(s) over the years. I liked Batman’s suit and the character designs, especially for Alfred and Magpie are both innovative albeit, especially in the case of Alfred, drastically different and took some time to get used to.
As far as the voice casting is concerned, I didn’t find any particular one to standout though Anthony Ruivivar is decent with both his Bruce Wayne and Batman voice (of course Kevin Conroy is the gold standard) while Kurtwood Smith is good as Gordon. And as with the character design, JB Blanc’s voice as Alfred does take time to grow because it’s hardly the posh style we’re used in other versions (even Caine’s cockney accent isn’t as jarring). Still, not a bad casting job.
“Beware the Batman”, the first half of the first season anyway, isn’t bad and although it doesn’t hold a candle to “Batman: The Animated Series”, it’s not a bad incarnation and revisionary for a character that has been done in so many ways over the decades. Is it for everyone’s taste? Of course not and fans of the character will not be accepting of the changes, but for me, I still found it enjoyable.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 0/5
Sadly, but not surprising, no features are included.
VIDEO – 4.25/5
Warner Home Video releases “Beware the Batman” on Blu-ray shown in its original 1.78 widescreen presentation and a 1080p high-definition transfer. Not surprisingly, the video looks good in HD with bright colors during the daylight scenes and stark black levels during the night sequences as well as Batman’s black costume. The transfer appears to be void of artifacts and pixilation and outside of some blocking issues, it’s clean.
AUDIO – 3.5/5
The Dolby Digital Stereo track is pretty basic but relatively robust with clear dialogue levels and the action sequences show off and are fairly well balanced even for a 2 channel track.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, “Beware the Batman”: Season One, Part One is an interesting entry into the series with some fun CGI animation, good voice performances and some innovative inventions in the Dark Knight’s arsenal to the point I hope can be integrated into the new franchise. Still, it’s not perfect and of course doesn’t come close to “The Animated Series”, but if you can look past the big changes, it’s an entertaining ride.