Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 3/28/23;
Warner;
Animated;
$29.98 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some strong violence, disturbing images, language and brief partial nudity.
Voices of David Giuntoli, Tati Gabrielle, Christopher Gorham, Patrick Fabian, John DiMaggio, David Dastmalchian, Gideon Adlon, Karan Brar, Jeffrey Combs, Darin De Paul, Brian George, Jason Marsden, Navid Negahban, Emily O’Brien, Tim Russ, William Salyers, Matthew Waterson.

Comic book superheroes meet Lovecraftian horror in this Elseworlds tale that reimagines Batman as having to fight monsters in the late 1920s.

Based on a comic book miniseries published from 2000 to 2001 co-written by “Hellboy” creator Mike Mignola, the story involves Bruce Wayne as an international explorer who accidentally unleashes an ancient evil while investigating a lost expedition in the arctic. Upon his return to Gotham City after a decades-long absence, he assumes the mantle of Batman to fight the dark forces that infest the city, uncovering a supernatural conspiracy that redefines everything he thought he knew about his family’s origins.

The premise offers a fun way to reshape the Batman mythology while allowing the filmmakers to indulge in their fascination for big scary monsters with a bold, vivid animation style. Among the most interesting elements is the re-imagining of the Green Arrow as a rich, eccentric drunk who bears the weight of his family’s sins for a centuries old pact that is tied to the evil now plaguing Gotham.

The Blu-ray includes a good commentary track with producer/co-director Sam Liu, screenwriter Jase Ricci, DC creative director Mike Carlin, and producer Jim Krieg, in which they discuss the merits and challenges of bringing this particular story to life.

There’s also a 13-minute featurette called “Batman: Shadows of Gotham” that explores the psychological overtones of the story.

Also included is the two-part “The Demon’s Quest” episode from “Batman: The Animated Series” that focuses on Ra’s al Ghul, a character with a crucial role in Doom That Came to Gotham.

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Batman: Soul of the Dragon

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 1/26/21;
Warner;
Animated;
$29.98 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD;
Rated ‘R’ for some violence.
Voices of David Giuntoli, Mark Dacascos, Kelly Hu, Michael Jai White, James Hong, Josh Keaton.

The latest DC Comics animated movie offers a rollicking throwback to the action movies of the 1970s, with a touch of James Bond for good measure, and a supernatural storyline that harkens back to Bruce Wayne’s training before he became Batman.

While it’s billed as a Batman movie, Soul of the Dragon puts less of a focus on the Dark Knight and puts him among an ensemble of DC action stars, primarily Richard Dragon (voiced by Mark Dacascos), a secret agent who seems to have been deliberately drawn to resemble Bruce Lee.

Dragon uncovers a plot by a cult called Kobra to open a portal to a demon dimension. To do so, they have acquired a mysterious doorway once possessed by Dragon’s old mentor, O Sensei (James Hong), who sacrificed himself years earlier to keep it sealed.

To aid him in stopping Kobra, Dragon recruits other students he trained with, including Bruce Wayne (David Gluntoli), Shiva (Kelly Hu) and Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White, who previously played a live-action version of the character on “Arrow.”)

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The movie weaves in some of the more bizarre characters from DC Comics and serves as a nice reminder of how wacky Batman comics from the 1970s could get. The core cast brings some nice chemistry to the proceedings and their mission results in some entertaining, if bloody, cartoon violence that should leave comic book movie fans satisfied.

The only real drawback might be an animation style that seems a bit stilted and modern for the subject matter.

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The Blu-ray includes a great half-hour featurette called “Batman: Raw Groove” — a retrospective about the pop culture of the 1970s that inspired Soul of the Dragon, particularly kung fu and blacksploitation movies.

The making of the film is covered more in the 18-minute “Producer Jim Krieg’s Far-Out Highlights,” which offers several filmmaker interviews, with special emphasis on Krieg, who is known for appearing in costumes appropriate to the movie he is promoting.

Rounding out the Blu-ray package are a pair of “Batman: The Animated Series” episodes — “Day of the Samurai” and “Night of the Ninja” — plus several previews for other DC Universe animated movies, including an eight-minute preview of the upcoming Justice Society: World War II.

In the 4K combo pack, all the extras are on the standard Blu-ray Disc. The 4K disc contains just the movie and its spectacular color palette.