Friday, January 23, 2015

ANI-MOVIES, *The Batman Vs. Dracula

This was a made-for-video feature, and the only animated extension of the early 2000's series, The Batman. Running for five seasons, this was helmed by some of the creators of Jackie Chan Adventures, which helped add a lot more physical action to the Batman animated history. This was also somewhat inspired a trilogy of DC Comics' Elseworlds comics beginning with Batman: Red Rain where modern day Batman has to stop the king of the vampires.

Set sometime probably before Season 3 of The Batman TV series, Joker and Penguin break out of Arkham Asylum each on their own to find a lost mafia treasure buried somewhere in Gotham Cemetery. Batman stops Joker who seems to die, while Penguin uncovers a tomb in the cemetery that happens to house none other than the dried up corpse of the actual Dracula. Apparently, after he was defeated by ticked-off peasants centuries ago, instead of just throwing his body into a volcano or exposing it sunlight, the went through all the trouble of locking him up in an iron coffin and sending it all the way from Europe to Gotham City as American was colonized. Penguin accidently gets some of his blood conveniently dropped into Dracula's husk which revives him, and he hypnotizes Pengie into being his personal Renfield. Drac begins to feed off Gothamites, thus turning them into ghoulish vampires too, and the police blame Batman as the one for the disappearances for these "Lost Ones". Dracula also sets his sights on Vicki Vale, who here makes her first animated appearance, as Vicki herself is trying to become Bruce Wayne's love interest. Joker comes back, and Drac changes him into a vampire, only to get later captured by Batman and taken back to the Batcave so he can use him as a guinea pig for an anti-vampire cure. Batman finally creates a vampire vaccine, and tracks Dracula to the cemetery to turn his army of darkness back to normal. Bats then baits Drac underground to the Batcave, and uses a special solar generator to disintegrate him. This frees Penguin from Dracula's control, who ends up taking the rap for all the missing persons in Gotham, thus freeing Batman of any blame.

This was a decent outing for The Batman storyline, even though its possible to have done it without Joker or Penguin who are just there to pad out the movie. The addition of Vicki Vale was okay, even though she ends up having no appearances again after this movie, similar to Detective Yin from the first two seasons of the show who was built up to be a reoccurring character and ally to Batman and was just dropped after Batgirl was added to the roster. The animation was slightly above that on the TV show, although it could have used a better soundtrack than all the damn guitar strumming that they use in every damn scene. This movie was brought up in a single issue of The Batman Strikes spinoff comic that takes place during the movie. It's worth downloading, or at least maybe in one of the double-feature DVD sets which include other Batman animated movies.

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