Batman: The Long Halloween — Part One

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Animated;
$29.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence, bloody images, language and some smoking.
Voices of Jensen Ackles, Josh Duhamel, Billy Burke, Titus Welliver, David Dastmalchian, Troy Baker, Amy Landecker, Julie Nathanson, Jack Quaid, Fred Tatasciore, Jim Pirri, Alastair Duncan, Naya Rivera.

Originally released in 1996 and 1997 and best known today as a graphic novel collection, the comic book miniseries “Batman: The Long Halloween” is considered one of the seminal works of the Batman canon.

Taking place over the course of a year early in Batman’s career, “The Long Halloween” tells the story of how Gotham City transitioned from gangland violence to being overrun with costumed supervillains, while also tracking the toll it takes on new district attorney Harvey Dent, who eventually becomes the villain Two-Face.

This first half of the two-part animated adaptation (the second half coming in a month) is heavily focused on the mafia side of things, and feels very much like Batman (Jensen Ackles) has been dropped into the plot of The Godfather.

This is a Batman still perfecting his skills as a vigilante. He makes obvious mistakes, isn’t too adept at jumping from roof to roof just yet, and he doesn’t seem interested in being a detective. He forms a pact with Dent (Josh Duhamel) and police Capt. Gordon (Billy Burke) to clean up the gang wars, but this only puts more of a target on Dent’s back, much to the chagrin of his wife. It also opens the door for the costumed crazies that Batman has inspired, such as the Joker (Troy Baker) and Catwoman (voiced by the late Naya Rivera in one of her final roles), as a serial killer begins targeting key mob personnel each month on a festive holiday.

Batman fans already familiar with the “Long Halloween” arc should appreciate the adaptation, which matches the animation style of the earlier Superman: Man of Tomorrow and Justice Society: World War II, potentially putting it in the same shared universe as those adventures. Long Halloween was reportedly intended to kick off this new continuity years ago, but was delayed when it looked as if Matt Reeves’ The Batman would be doing the storyline.

Casual Bat-fans who don’t know the graphic novel will likely recognize many aspects of the story, particularly the troika of Batman, Dent and Gordon, and the focus on Gotham’s mob bosses, from Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy, which was heavily influenced by Long Halloween.

The Blu-ray includes a nine-minute preview of the upcoming part two, which delves further into Dent’s transformation into Two-Face.

There are also showcases for previously released Batman animated movies The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 and Gotham by Gaslight.

As is customary for these DC Universe releases, the Blu-ray also contains two cartoons from the Warner Bros. catalog that are thematically similar to the movie — in this case, the “Batman: The Animated Series” episodes “Christmas With the Joker” and “It’s Never Too Late.”

Also included is the newest DC Showcase animated short film, the 16-minute The Losers. This one’s about a special forces unit during World War II caught up in a mission on an island overrun by dinosaurs brought from the past by a powerful energy barrier. The premise seems cobbled together from a few familiar sources and as a whole the short doesn’t amount to much, but the implications of some of the plot developments could be intriguing if explored further.

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Latest ‘Shaft’ Movie Coming Home in September

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the 2019 edition of Shaft digitally Sept. 10, and on Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 24.

In the fifth film in the “Shaft” franchise, cyber-security expert John Shaft Jr. (Jessie T. Usher) investigates his best friend’s death and gets a lesson in street smarts from his legendary father, John Shaft (Samuel L. Jackson).

The cast also includes Regina Hall, Alexandra Shipp, Matt Lauria, Titus Welliver, Cliff “Method Man” Smith and Richard Roundtree, the original John Shaft.

Directed by Tim Story, the film earned $21.4 million at the domestic box office.

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The film is a sequel to the franchise’s 2000 installment, also called Shaft, which itself was a remake/sequel to the 1970s “Shaft” films starring Roundtree: 1971’s Shaft, 1972’s Shaft’s Big Score! and 1973’s Shaft in Africa.

The DVD and Blu-ray will include a “Can Ya Dig It? The Making of Shaft” featurette.

The Blu-ray will also include deleted scenes, a gag reel and the three-part documentary A Complicated Man: The Shaft Legacy, comprised of “Part One: A Bad Mother Born,” “Part Two: No Questions Asked” and “Part Three: A Legend of His Time.”

Amazon Renews Longest-Running Original Drama Series, ‘Bosch’

Amazon Feb. 13 announced the fifth-season renewal of original drama, “Bosch.” Season four of the Emmy-nominated Los Angeles police detective drama premieres on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, April 13.

Based on Michael Connelly’s best-selling novels, the hour-long series Bosch stars Titus Welliver (“Lost”) as homicide Detective Harry Bosch, Jamie Hector (“The Wire”) as Jerry Edgar, Amy Aquino (“Being Human”) as Lt. Grace Billets, Madison Lintz (“The Walking Dead”) as Maddie Bosch and Lance Reddick (“The Wire”) as Deputy Chief Irvin Irving.

Season three has an average customer rating of 4.8, with 89% 5 star reviews.

In the 10-episode season four, when an attorney is murdered on the eve of his civil rights trial against the LAPD, Bosch is assigned to lead a task force to solve the crime before the city erupts in a riot. Bosch must pursue every lead, even if it turns the spotlight back on his own department. One murder intertwines with another, and Bosch must reconcile his past to find a justice that has long eluded him.

“As Prime Video’s longest-running one-hour series, ‘Bosch’ has long been a cornerstone of our scripted programming,” Sharon Tal Yguado, head of scripted series, Amazon Studios, said in a statement. “We are excited to give them another season with Harry Bosch, Jerry Edgar, Grace Billets and the rest of the diverse characters that make up the Bosch universe.”