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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Batman vs. Two-Face is an animated movie that's similar in tone to the campy 1960s TV Batman starring Adam West and Burt Ward. In contrast to the moody, more sobering Batman theatrical movies and dark, violent direct-to-DVD fare from recent years, this one is funny, with exaggerated comic action and word balloons. You'll see plenty of PLONK!s and ZAP!s and hear lots of intentionally corny dialogue and exclamations like "Holy blind spot!" and "Holy overdue books!" You can also expect the cartoon gunfire, lasers, lightning flashes, explosions, fires, and fistfights. Gotham's usual villains -- The Joker, The Riddler, Catwoman (voiced by original actress Julie Newmar), and The Penguin -- are all on hand; Harvey Dent (William Shatner) also plays a major part in this story of a human's capacity for "duality" (or "two faces"). Fun for new fans and nostalgic for older ones, this one is best for kids who are fine with imaginary vs. real violence. It also marks West's final time playing the iconic Caped Crusader; he died a few months before this movie's release.
What's the story?
Scientist Hugo Strange has come up with an astounding new technological device in BATMAN VS. TWO-FACE. His machine can extract all the evil from a criminal mind, which could result in eliminating villainous behavior entirely. But when a much-heralded demonstration goes awry, the unwitting District Attorney Harvey Dent becomes the unlucky recipient of the evil essence extracted from some of Gotham's most infamous villains. Dent is turned into Two-Face, a cackling baddie of astonishing proportions. It's only because of the quick actions of Batman, who's witnessed the catastrophe, that Harvey Dent is returned to his heroic self. Or is he? Six months later, a series of events -- including daring thefts and Gotham's entire citizenry in jeopardy -- leads the Dynamic Duo to suspect that their close friend and ally may not be who he seems.
Is it any good?
This smart, fast-paced throwback to the Batman of 1966, brimming with puns and allusions to the concept of pairs and duality, is a fitting finale to Adam West's work as the iconic superhero. Director Rick Morales has obvious affection for the campy, over-the-top heroism, and especially the trademarks that made that television series popular and lasting. The writing, animation, and story all serve to remind old fans how fresh it was, and to make new fans of all the kids who want Batman to be much less of a journey through a troubled soul in a troubled world. Adding Bill Shatner to the mix of actors who brought Batman, Robin, and Catwoman originally to life is a casting delight. "Captain Kirk" makes a wonderful, diabolic Two-Face, as well as a wholesome prosecutor. Batman vs. Two-Face is a reminder that comic books, especially superhero-driven comic books, were and still are fun.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the differences between this comic, cartoon Batman and the many other variations of the character created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger in 1939. How does this movie differ from the Christopher Nolan films? From the Lego movie? What sets it apart from some of the darker comic books and movies (e.g., Batman: The Killing Joke)?
The history of this very popular icon is as interesting as the movie itself. Where would you go to learn about the creation and evolution of the Batman character?
Secret identities make for intriguing characters. Does that fact mean that every ordinary Joe (or Bruce or Clark) might be a secret superhero? What qualities make Batman heroic?
- On DVD or streaming: October 17, 2017
- Cast: Adam West, Burt Ward, William Shatner
- Director: Rick Morales
- Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Friendship
- Character Strengths: Courage
- Run time: 72 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: action, some mild language and suggestive content
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