I booked right along on this one because I really wanted to get Batman: Mystery of The Batwoman out of the way.
I do not like this one. Granted, this second watching I picked up on more stuff that I liked than the first time. Kelly Ripa’s voice performance as Roxanne “Rocky” Ballantine (And the character of Rocky period.) is a definite highlight, for example.
The plot isn’t super great. The Penguin, Rupert Thorne and Carlton Duquesne have some plan to manufacture weapons and sell them to the Kasnian military. Kasnia is a pretty sketchy place, I’ve gathered. They managed to upgrade at some point, and wound up buying weapons from Ares himself, but let’s not talk about JLU’s “Hawk and Dove” right now, because it’s way better and I’ll get distracted. Their plans keep getting foiled by the mysterious Batwoman, who doesn’t mind crossing lines that Batman won’t cross.
The story moves along with Batman having to figure out who Batwoman is, in order to stop her rather destructive vendetta against this trio of villains. Meanwhile, Robin and Alfred make many sarcastic comments at him. Normally this is the kind of stuff I love, and again, I liked it better this time, because I knew to focus on them instead of the parts I didn’t like, they came out more. It’s a little upsetting to see Tim Drake so soon after watching Return of The Joker, but well, I still love him and Eli Marienthal does a great job as usual. Tara Strong is back as Barbara Gordon and while I generally find Bruce/Barbara action icky, her one scene is hilarious as it’s clear their romantic relationship is developing and he has no idea how to handle it.
The movie unfolds with Batman solving the mystery by discovering that the three new women in his life are all actually Batwoman. The afore mentioned Rocky Ballantine, a young brilliant scientist at Wayne Tech, Detective Sonia Alcana, Harvey Bullock’s new partner (she’s great, but makes me miss Renee Montoya.) and Kathy Duquesne, the spoiled daughter of one of three villains who for reasons passing understanding Bruce falls for.
Then Bane shows up, I guess because they wanted Bane there? I don’t really get it.
The action is flawless and beautiful which should always be the main point, but the story lacks coherence and the new characters aren’t terribly compelling. The voice cast does a good job, because Andrea Romano is something of a genius when it comes to casting and vocal direction. With the exception of Conroy, who you get the feeling was phoning it in on this one, the cast is fantastic. I already pointed out Kelly Ripa as the stand out, but I also loved David Ogden Stiers as the Penguin and Kyra Sedgewick as Batwoman.
As I said before, I’m kind of looking forward to moving past the Batman: The Animated Series stuff. Not because I don’t love it (most of it) but because I know so much of the other Batman stuff (Year One and Under The Red Hood) and Justice League stuff (Doom) is so good, and there’s so much of the Superman stuff that I haven’t seen, I’m eager to move on from the stuff that I have seen before and maybe don’t love as much.
But first I’d like to point out that I haven’t mentioned much about Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and his repeated excellence as Alfred. It’s easy to forget about Alfred, but Zimbalist does such an amazing job delivering zinger after zinger that I can’t believe I overlooked him at all. But, in many ways, I take his excellence for granted. Of course Zimbalist is going to be the best part of any B:TAS material. Everything after that is gravy.
Up next is Batman VS Dracula, which I actually have never seen and is tied in to The Batman, which I have also never seen. I think this one is going to maybe not be in my top.
Just a feeling.