DC has been churning out quality animated movies for nearly a decade. But as the line has expanded, the content has seemingly skewed higher in age appeal and validity. But as the song says, “The children are the future,” and with that in mind DC Comics has announced several initiatives to help cater to a younger demographic.
One of those projects is the Batman Unlimited line, which is a tie-in to a series of toy releases. On the home entertainment front, it has included animated shorts on Youtube and DTV movies. The first, Animal Instincts, was released in May of this year and proved to be a somewhat bland movie. Would the second, Monster Mayhem, leave us indifferent as well? Read on to find out!
- The Design – The Batman Unlimited characters have a very stylized design but it seems to help and hurt characters almost equally. Almost all the males are given this wild, spiked hair which looks silly on Nightwing and Green Arrow. Then you get stuff like the Joker’s extremely pointed nose. On the other side, this is probably the best that Cyborg has looked in animation. It takes a lot to make Batman look bad, and Red Robin’s costume was translated well.
- The Team-Ups – This is a Halloween/horror-themed special and found the villainous team they put together for this one to be more interesting than the one from Animal Instincts. We have The Joker leading a team of villains which includes The Scarecrow, Solomon Grundy, Silver Banshee and Clayface. The team was a great mix of abilities, of visual designs and of personality. It made for a much more enjoyable viewing watching them paired up with the various heroes and even sharing the screen with each other.
- Voice Acting – There are a lot of solid choices in this including Troy Baker as The Joker and Roger Craig Smith as Batman (Think Batman: Arkham Origins) and Will Friedle as Nightwing (though I just kept hearing Terry whenever he spoke) and they all give good performance. But I didn’t feel like any of the voice work elevated the movie. Nothing stood out as exceptionally good or fun take on any of these characters.
- The Double Duty – Batman Unlimited was created as a tie-in to the toyline, and I felt the first movie Animal Instincts really showed that off. Introducing something like 3-4 different Bat-costumes, some new toys and gadgets for him, but never really giving them much reason in the movie to itself. Monster Mayhem strikes a better balance between clearly introducing things for future toy releases while making it a core component of the film. Or nothing felt forced in to sell action figures.
- The Action – This movie is heavy on action, somewhat to the detriment of the plot. There are some great encounters throughout. Both physically and psychologically. You get some fun with Scarecrow’s fear toxins and Nightwing’s legacy. There’s a game of “Who is it?” with Clayface and Red Robin. A car chase that involves an ice cream truck. And of course the highlight of the film…
- Batman Riding a Mecha-Dinosaur – I mean that should say it all. Didn’t think they could top Batman’s wolf motorcycle from the last one, but here we get Batman running around on the back of a dinosaur!
- Ghosts and Goblins – Monster Mayhem is set during Halloween, and aside from a gag or two doesn’t do a ton with the notion. That said it would make for a nice little treat for the younger generation during the Halloween season. You get some of DC’s spookier character swith Grundy, Scarecrow and Silver Banshee.
Review 6 (out of 7) – Monster Mayhem is a better example of what the Batman Unlimited brand can offer. A fun, kid-friendly team-up of some of DC’s grounded superheroes and a thematic group of villains. If you were turned off by Animal Instincts, I recommend giving the follow-up a chance.