Adam West’s Final Role As Batman
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After the success of the first Adam West Batman-inspired animated movie last year, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, you knew it wouldn’t be long before Batman and Robin returned for more campy goodness in a sequel. Batman vs. Two-Face is a fine send-off for Adam West’s final performance in his iconic role as Batman, having passed away in June after he recorded this role. That makes the movie a final tribute of sorts to the revered actor. Returning alongside him are Burt Ward and Julie Newmar voicing their legendary roles as Robin the Boy Wonder and Catwoman. Star Trek icon William Shatner, another huge TV presence from the 1960s, voices Two-Face and Harvey Dent.
For people of a certain generation, Adam West is their Batman. Long before Ben Affleck or Christian Bale, Adam West’s hammy, good-natured take on Batman defined the character for millions of young fans. The 1966-68 television series was a massive hit in its day, a show that touched multiple generations for years in syndication. It was a sad day for Batman fans everywhere when Adam West passed away, who had become a cult pop celebrity in recent years with appearances on Family Guy and elsewhere. It’s safe to say that Adam West’s Batman is permanently entrenched in Western pop culture and will remain that way for years to come.
When Warner Bros. and Fox finally settled the rights to release the original television show back in 2014, it gave fans the hope of new material with these beloved characters in the show’s trademark comedic style. Return of The Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face pick up right where the television series left off, giving us more adventures of Batman and Robin protecting Gotham City from villains such as the Joker, Catwoman, and even King Tut. It’s amazing that in 2017 we can get new Batman ’66 content, in the form of animated movies that respect the characters and its distinct tone. Having the original cast members voicing their roles again after such a long hiatus is icing on the cake.
The plot here feels right at home with the original show’s tone and campy humor. Dr. Hugo Strange claims he has a device that can remove evil from criminals, making them law-abiding citizens. Strange thinks he can put Batman out of business if the machine works. When the device explodes around Gotham D.A. Harvey Dent, it transforms him into the sinister Two-Face. Batman and Robin will tangle with Two-Face and more obscure Batman villains such as the Bookworm and King Tut. Bruce Wayne’s friendship with Harvey Dent will play a critical component. Look for a cute cameo by a pre-Harley Quinn lab assistant as a wink and nod to younger fans.
If you like Adam West’s Batman, it’s fantastic entertainment
If you like Adam West’s Batman, it’s fantastic entertainment
I was blown away by Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders for its authentic gags and fairly close resemblance to the original television series. If you like Adam West’s Batman, it’s fantastic entertainment that expanded his flirtation with Catwoman in a sensible approach. Batman vs. Two-Face is more of the same, though its different roster of villains changes the focus. Two-Face is a dark villain for this kind of lighthearted material and Shatner gives only a serviceable performance as the split personality baddie.
On the positive side, minor villains like the Bookworm, Egghead, and King Tut all appear. This may sound crazy but King Tut was always one of my favorite villains on the series. Seeing him get a sizable role warms my heart and he’s perfectly in character. There’s a neat scene in which most of Batman’s villains bid on the superhero’s death at an auction, including bigger names like the Riddler and the Penguin. The replacement voice actors for these supporting characters are excellent. The Joker sounds just like Cesar Romero, even though the actor passed away back in 1994.
Nods to everything that made the series so memorable are included. The Batmobile, Batman and Robin surviving deadly traps, Aunt Harriet, even the musical score are included as homages in some form. If Batman vs. Two-Face goes wrong in any phase, some of the humor and comedy have more innuendo this time around that feels slightly out of place for this long-time fan. There is a strong implication of Robin being jealous that Batman is spending romantic time with Catwoman instead of him, a sub-plot from the first movie that carries over to this semi-sequel. While Adam West capably handles his final voice role with his usual charm and class, some of Batman’s dialogue is uninspired. It tries too hard attempting to emulate the flavor of the original series with Batman’s hokey speeches.
Playing out like an extended episode of the original show with Adam West and Burt Ward voicing their iconic roles, Batman vs. Two-Face isn’t perfect but it should please long-time fans looking for one final moment with these beloved characters. Now that Adam West is no longer with us, this is likely the last installment we’ll get of Batman ’66. It’s a fine parting gift Adam West left his fans.
Generally the animation in Batman vs. Two-Face bears superficial similarities to Warner’s other direct-to-video animated productions for its DC Comics characters. I’m not sure what happened here but the character designs and animation quality are a little sloppy and rough. Robin particularly looks off-design a number of times. I would have loved giving this presentation a great score but rampant banding makes this disc an eye-sore at times. The poor AVC encode is given weak bitrates, even for this type of bright, clean animated video.
The colors are punchy with fine black levels. Everything comes in pristine condition as these animated movies are produced at 1080P resolution. The final 1.78:1 output is basically the finished digital master, so there are few opportunities to mess things up.
Batman vs. Two-Face is not the best-looking animated feature from Warner’s line of DC movies. In fact, it’s sub-par in picture quality standing up against them. I wonder if this production was rushed after West’s sudden passing for a quick release.
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA emphasizes cleanly rendered dialogue in a largely front-oriented mix. The recording has perfect fidelity and impressive sound design but lacks the aggressive immersion of DC’s other animated fare. The bass is tight and accurate. Every punch and kick is heard in crystal-clear imaging. The lively musical score definitely emulates the original spirit of the television series.
Optional English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles play in a white font. French and Spanish Dolby Digital dubs are presented in 5.1 mixes.
There are two different retailer exclusive versions available for Batman vs. Two-Face. Best Buy has their exclusive Steelbook version, which is essential if you collect them. Target offers a limited edition lenticular cover that is quite shiny in person. Normal first pressings include a regular embossed slipcover. The big elephant in the room is any real effort to acknowledge Adam West beyond the Comic Con panel. It’s clear there wasn’t enough time since his passing to include any tribute featurettes to him in light of his death.
The combo packages include a DVD and digital code. The digital code redeems in UV on VUDU at HDX quality.
The Wonderful World of Burt Ward (14:34 in HD) – This new featurette highlights Burt Ward’s life away from acting, particularly his many benevolent activities, and his lifelong devotion to the health and welfare of dogs. We learn in the concise retrospective that he grew up a huge fan of Superman as a boy and had never read Batman comics before getting the role of Robin. It’s an interesting interview with Ward well worth watching.
Adam West Tribute Panel at the 2017 Comic-Con International (39:27 in HD) – At the 2017 Comic-Con in San Diego, a panel celebrated the life and times of the late Adam West, the legendary “Bright Knight.” Fans laughed, cried and cheered as actress Lee Meriwether (Catwoman from the 1966 Batman movie), director/writer/actor Kevin Smith, actor/radio personality Ralph Garman, producer James Tucker and moderator Gary Miereanu captivated the audience with anecdotes and tales about Adam West. This was a fun discussion with a group of people that personally knew Adam West and his work. Garman is one of the biggest Batman collectors in the country.
Burt Ward on Being Starstruck (02:03 in HD) – A brief interview clip with Ward discussing all the famous guest-stars that appeared on the show, including Vincent Price.
Burt Ward on Ambition (00:59 in HD)
Julie Newmar on Inspiration (01:53 in HD) – A brief clip of Newmar discussing Catwoman and positive memories working on the show.
Justice League Trailer (04:03 in HD) – The extended trailer for the new live-action Justice League movie precedes the main menu.
Batman and Harley Quinn (02:03 in HD) – This trailer also precedes the main menu.
Sneak Peek At “The Dark Knight Returns: Pt. 1” (12:36 in HD) – A preview for this animated DC movie.
Sneak Peek At “The Dark Knight Returns: Pt. 2” (06:52 in HD)
UHD Promo Trailer (01:05 in HD)
Digital Movies Promo (00:35 in HD)
Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Trailer (01:56 in HD)
Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders Trailer (01:30 in HD)
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