Batman and Robin: Return of the Caped Crusaders

Batman and Robin: Return of the Caped Crusaders makes it’s way to Blu-Ray and DVD November 1 2016.  It’s already out now via digital distribution channels, and MUReview and litlgeeks got our hands on the physical copy just a little early so that we could share our thoughts with you, courtesy of Warner Brothers Animation.  Truth be told, the movie showed up last night, and both the litlgeeks and the big geek (me) were so excited to watch it, bed time rules were dissolved for the evening and we dove right in after dinner.  Read on for our spoiler free review.

The litlgeeks take

Before we get into the meat of the review, I want to share with you the very specific comments from the litlgeeks.  Their favorite parts were the first fight scene and the villain getaway scene.  They loved the jokes to the point that both would proclaim “I get it!” after every quick one liner or punch line.  They loved the art and were singing along to the absolutely classic music with the original theme song lyrics (omitted from the film).

The Movie

Return of the Caped Crusaders is an enjoyable ride filled with nostalgia, puns, gadgets, gizmos, and all the bat suits and villains you can eat.  Warner Brothers Animation has put together a plot that, while set in the original era of Adam West’s Batman felt fresh and modern while staying rooted in the tech and climate of the 60’s.

The film includes nod after nod after nod to the original series, Bat-Copters, Bat-Sprays, the Chief’s Irish accent.  You are truly transported back to the TV show.  On the other side of the coin, The plot and the effects aren’t something that could have ever really been achieved in the original series, effect wise or budget wise I’m sure.  With animation, if you think it, you can draw it, and the movie took absolute advantage of that to great effect.  Just a few fun points I enjoyed, all the villains wearing seat belts in the Joker mobile.  Batman and Robin not jay walking.  A nameless goon wearing a G.O.O.N. t-shirt!

The assembled voice cast is anchored by original 60’s Bat-Actors Adam West (Batman), Burt Ward (Robin) and Julie Newmar (Catwoman).  Jeff Bergman (Joker), Wally Wingert (Riddler), and William Salyers (Penguin) round out the core of the cast of classic villains.  Having grown up with the original iconic cast of characters (re-runs in the 80s), it tugged on all of my heart strings to hear Batman the way he sounded for me growing up, same for Robin and for Catwoman.  I will say though, it is a bit of an adjustment.  West, Ward and Newmar all sound very much their real world age.  They all did fantastic jobs with their characters, rhythms, wit, they hit all the lines very well.  For me though, it took a minute to appreciate the new depth to their voices.  This really didn’t phase the litlgeeks, they have been exposed to 60’s era Batman, but it isn’t as ingrained for them as it was for Mrs. MUReview and myself.  I’m spending some time on it, because for me it was the biggest stand out thing to get used to, but by the end of the movie, I don’t know if it was the actors getting used to the characters again, or being comfortable with it, it wasn’t anywhere near as noticeable as in the beginning.

The newcomers to their role, Wingert, Salyers and Bergman all did very appreciable jobs of adopting the iconic characters and making them their own while calling back to some of the iconic squeaks, squeals and giggles of the original 60’s era actors.  The stand out for me is Wingert’s portrayal of the Riddler.  He had a great cadence and delivered riddles that landed just right every time.

The writing in the film is quick and witty.  Full of puns, double entendres, clever rhymes, riddles, it was again nostalgic, fit the 60’s period, but also felt modern and relevant.  So much care was taken to pay homage to the do-gooder, boy scout that Batman was back then, that when one of the films early twists hit, it was almost offensive to see a change in Batman’s behavior.  Well done!  The writers also try to bring out time period specific tropes and concepts.  The writing nails “the way it was back then”, sometimes, almost too well, making some of the male / female interactions a little awkward for the modern viewer.

The art / drawing put forth in Return of the Caped Crusaders is really very sharp, looks great on a 4K TV, and most importantly, it captures the characters in cartoon form, just how I remember them from the real world show.  I can’t really ask for much more, except I’m asking for more.  I’d like to see more, and I’m excited that Batman Vs. Two Face is already announced!

The Extras

All things being equal, I’m not really a big extras fan.  I like to enjoy a movie, let it sit with me, and if I want any more out of it, I’ll watch it again.  That said, Warner Brothers does add value to the Blu-Ray / DVD / Ultra Violet combo pack with a few quick shorts featuring the voice actors.

Dastardly Desperadoes features the villains talking about just how much fun it was to step into the roles.
A Classic Cadre of Voices lets the classic actors talk about revisiting their roles and how much they enjoyed doing so.  Seeing Julie Newmar in Cat ears is a treat!
 
Two sneak peeks are included on the discs, one for Son of Batman, another for Batman Vs. Robin.  Each film has been out for some time and is available physically and digitally, so skip the sneak peeks, go watch the movies, they are outstanding and feature Batman and son Damien Wayne getting into all kinds of trouble.
 
Rounding out the extras are trailers for DC TV, Wonder Woman, The Lego Batman Movie, which is an absolute highlight, and a new Wonder Woman animated movie.  All are worth a watch.
 
The Summary
 
Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders picks up right where the 60’s era TV show left off.  It features wonderful voice acting, a fun plot, and it pulls out a ton of tricks that you’d never be able to see in live action TV, certainly not in the 60’s.  This is a bright starting point for what I hope becomes a full animated series of films and it’s definitely something you should take the time out to watch.   I will take a moment to voice my one real complaint with the movie here in the summary.  The Joker didn’t have a mustache covered by makeup.  That felt weird to me…
 

The Pictures

 

 litlgeeks received this product for free for review purposes.
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