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Regarded as one of the seminal Batman stories, the comic book The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale became a massive influence on not only future comics – some of which written by Lob himself – but also on Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. The storyline eventually made the transition to direct-to-video animation with a two-part adaptation.
When I reviewed the initial half of this adaptation, which was enjoyable and surprised by its emphasis on atmosphere over spectacle, it felt cold by not clinging onto any emotional angle despite the numerous attempts. However, the central mystery of who the Holiday Killer is, created enough interest on how the Dark Knight himself (Jensen Ackles), Commissioner Gordon (Billy Burke) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel) were going to solve it in the second part.
In the post-credits scene of Part One, Bruce Wayne is under the control of Poison Ivy (Katee Sackhoff), who forces him to sign over his assets to Carmine Falcone (Titus Welliver). However, during the initial minutes on this instalment, this particular predicament gets resolved quickly with the help of Catwoman (voiced by the late Naya Rivera). In fact, any time the supervillains are the focus, this is where the film feels a bit disjointed. This may be a fault in staying true the source material., despite being partly about the rise of a new form of criminality in Gotham. At least we get to hear more of David Dastmalchian’s chilling vocals as Calendar Man.
However, the one villain who deserves the most attention is Harvey Dent as we get to see his tragic turn as Two-Face. Along with an outstanding vocal performance from Josh Duhamel, who reminds you of Richard Moll’s menacing tone in Batman: The Animated Series, the film’s most intense sequences feature this character going through a psychological breakdown and becomes a question of when he’s going to snap. His interactions with everyone else as Two-Face adds a level of intensity and eventual tragedy.
With the exception of Gordon’s side of the story involving his family that gets sidelined, whatever lingering questions that Part One asked, Part Two answers. This is not just in the central mystery of Holiday, but even aspects of Bruce Wayne’s history. We do get yet another version of Thomas and Martha Wayne being murdered, but it actually adds context to the story here, in terms of Bruce looking back his father’s dealings with Falcone and what impact that could have in the future. This is one of the most human takes on the Dark Knight as he is flawed and vulnerable, while slowly developing his skills as a detective.
Despite the opening credits that showcase the exaggerated illustrations by Tim Sale, the animation resembles nothing like the artwork, which may upset fans of the comic, but the cel-shaded look does have its perks. Although the action is more bombastic than its predecessor, due to the presence of more supervillains, the moody atmosphere is more thrilling, given the film noir nature of the story and makes you wonder what Matt Reeves’ The Batman has in store when released next year.
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