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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Batman Unlimited: Animal Instinct (2015) direct to video animated movie




Overall verdict: 5/10

The Good: occasional smooth animation, superb voice acting, a touch of nostalgia

The Bad: generally sub par production values for a direct to video movie, juvenile script, laughable art and designs, forgettable music, animation short cuts,

******************************Review*****************************

Remember those 1970s and 80s cartoons that were created just to con kids into buying toys? Well the trend is back, and Batman is jumping on the bandwagon. Sporting a brighter coloured new suit, a colourful supporting cast and equally multi coloured villains, BATMAN UNLIMITED: ANIMAL INSTINCT is based on the recent colourful toy line by Mattel. So colourful.

You all know the drill: hero team vs villain team. In this case, heroic Batman and pals vs the evil "Animalitia" in a citywide caper that sets the "kindness to animals" campaign back by a decade or so. The Penguin, Silverback, Cheetah, Manbat and KillerCroc are evil and want to.......no cheating now, that would be a spoiler. They want to do crime, so enter Batman N Pals Nightwing, Robin, Green Arrow and the Flash. Each one sporting a sharp pointy new look with "cool" spiked hair and diamond sharp chins. Not exactly a kid friendly toy design but.........kids seem to like this sort of thing.

A lighter tone and story for Batman can work if done well (see BRAVE AND THE BOLD). Unfortunately this is not done well. Whether intentional or not, the script sounds like it fits right in with the worst episodes of the 80s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sans the pizza. They might as well have left the pizza in though because the script is cheesy as heck. Jokes aren't funny, humour feels out of place, but the excellent cast do a fantastic job with the sub par material at hand.

Roger Craig Smith reprises his role of Batman after having played the character in some of the "Arkham" series of video games. I like his batman voice. Almost like a young Kevin Conroy. What I did not like was the horrible character design of Batman (or most of the characters for that matter).

Looking like some bad Gatchaman cosplay made with Power Ranger pyjamas, this new batman design is hilarious! The supporting cast ain't any better either; Everyone looks "stretched" and I already mentioned the silly hair. Batman has got multiple suits (and no doubt a toy for each suit "each sold separately"), everyone gets a cool weapon or gadget and the "money shot moment" where they get to show it off, while daddy gets another toy or two to add to junior's "Christmas wish list". Maybe it's not the production team's fault for the silly designs. Blame Mattel.

It is the production team's fault for the sub standard art and animation. Characters barely have any shadowing or shading on them except in the extreme close-ups, just lazy flat colouring otherwise. The backgrounds have this techy futuristic vibe that reminds me of BATMAN BEYOND but they are equally flat and look worse off than Batman Beyond's lower quality episodes. The animation is barely better with its inconsistent nature. You have scenes that are smooth moving, an easy feat thanks to the simplistic artwork. But you have a good number of scenes that look like a flash animated Internet browser game. Robot animals don't transform much less "melt" from animal to motorbike. And i absolutely hate that cheapskate tactic of blurring key frames to create the illusion of movement! Some parts seem to be drawing from the worst excesses of Japanese anime with the speed lines and freeze frames, just more lazy animation at work.


Just because kids don't mind doesn't mean you give them animation on the cheap. If JLA TRAPPED IN TIME was the new millennium's "Superfriends", then BATMAN UNLIMITED is this decade's rehash of the 1970s "adventures of Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder". With production values of a TV series episode, perhaps this movie would be more suited as a pilot for a Saturday morning cartoon. Compared to other direct-to-video animation, this is ignorant fun for kids and a Cheesy, sub-par curiosity for adults who yearn for the nostalgic days of cartoons that sell toys.


*****************************Review End***************************


Entertainment: B-
Art: C-
Animation: C+
Story: C+
Voice Acting (English): A-
Characters: B-
Music: C
Replay value: D+
"Brains": D-

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