The Dark Knight must contend with a mysterious female vigilante who emulates him, but to a more ruthless degree.
“Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman” is about as entertaining as animated Batman movies get. Not as much darkness, but the fun is still intact.
There’s a new crime-fighter on the streets of Gotham. She dresses like a bat but she’s not a grown-up Batgirl. And Batman is denying any affiliation with her. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne has to deal with the usual romances and detective work. But the Penguin, Bain and the local mob makes things little more complicated. Not to mention the emergence of three beautiful and mysterious women in both Bruce Wayne and Batman’s lives.
While still true to the feeling of the comic books, the animation is done with a lighter spirit than in the animated series. Bruce Wayne looks much like he has before, but now he appears somewhat less imposing. The Dick Grayson Robin has been replaced by the less edgy, more youthful Tim Drake Robin.
“Mystery of the Batwoman” is modeled in the same vein as the revamped Kids WB! episodes of Batman…dubbed “The New Batman Adventures.” But it’s charming to think that “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” compliments the first 70 episodes of “Batman: The Animated Series” and “Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero” compliments the 15 episodes of “The Adventures of Batman and Robin.” So in turn, “Batwoman” rightfully compliments the 24 episodes of “The New Batman Adventures.” And come to think of it, “Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker” compliments “Batman Beyond.”
It all goes hand in hand.
The cast here is absolutely extraordinary, as are with all of DC’s animated features. From the always brilliant and ever loyal Kevin Conroy, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Bob Hastings to the somewhat celebrity additions of Hector Elizando, Kyra Sedgewick and Kelly Ripa. There’s not one weak link in the prominent cast of characters here.
And I was personally thrilled that the producers and writers brought back ganglord Rupert Thorne, a prominent character from the original animated series on FOX that all but disappeared in “The New Batman Adventures.” It was a very cool throwback to see him once again, and to hear John Vernon portray him once more.
I was delighted with the imaginative and exciting set pieces (really loved the idea of the finale taking place on an ocean liner), the clever plot and a cheeky sense of humor. This is definitely a movie no fan of Batman should be without. Keep your ears open for a really catchy song performed by pop vocalist Cherie called “Betcha Neva” which is featured prominently through-out…even featuring an animated version of the singer in a scene in the Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge nightclub.
The film also excels with a sultry jazz score composed by Lolita Ritmanis, which sounds tremendous throughout the piece. I’m especially fond of the “Batwoman Theme,” which is probably the most prominent music cue in the film.
Ultimately, the film is a bit more light-hearted, and the moody atmosphere is gone in favor of brisk and dynamic storytelling and locale. Gone are the Gothic Citadels so prominently featured in the original series, replaced with towers of glass and granite…making Gotham look very much more like Metropolis.
But the film is still Batman…and it’s still a lot of fun. While I personally feel there’s more to offer in other interpretations of the character, this still has it where it counts and remains a delightfully fun portion of Batman’s illustrious history.
Just great, great fun!
“Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman” (Curt Geda, 2003)
Directed by … Curt Geda and Tim Maltby
Story by … Alan Burnett
Screenplay by … Michael Reaves
Based on the DC Comics Character Created by … Bob Kane and Bill Finger
Executive Produced by … Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan and Sander Schwartz
Produced by … Alan Burnett, Margaret M. Dean, Kathryn Page and Curt Geda
Art Direction by … Thom Enriquez, Curt Geda, Gary Graham, Eddie Lin, Tim Maltby, Phillip Norwood, Jeff Snow and Matt Youngberg
Casting and Voice Direction by … Andrea Romano
Editing by … Margaret Hou
Original Motion Picture Score Composed by … Lolita Ritmanis
Kevin Conroy … Bruce Wayne/Batman (voice)
Tara Strong … Barbara Gordon (voice)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. … Alfred Pennyworth (voice)
Bob Hastings … Police Commissioner James Gordon (voice)
David Ogden Stiers … Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot/The Penguin (voice)
Hector Elizondo … Bane (voice)
Kelly Ripa … Dr. Roxanne ‘Rocky’ Ballantine (voice)
Kimberly Brooks … Kathleen ‘Kathy’ Duquesne (voice)
Elisa Gabrielli … Detective Sonia Alcana (voice)
Kyra Sedgwick … Batwoman (voice)
Eli Marienthal … Timothy ‘Tim’ Drake/Robin (voice)
John Vernon … Rupert Thorne (voice)
Kevin Michael Richardson … Carlton Duquesne (voice)
Robert Costanzo … Police Detective Harvey Bullock (voice)
Cherie … Iceberg Lounge Singer (voice)
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