May 12, 2015 11:50 AM EST

The Bat is Back in Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts

The Bat is Back in Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts

Gotham is in trouble again, and as usual it is up to Batman and his friends to save the day. This is the basic premise for the new Warner Bros. and DC comics animated feature length film entitled Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts

In the not too distant future, when flying cars are the norm and Batman (Roger Craig Smith) has bright new shinny futuristic costumes, Oswald Cobblepot (Dana Snyder) a.k.a The Penguin along with Cheetah (Laura Bailey), Killer Croc (John DiMaggio), Silverback (Keith Szarabajka) and Man-Bat (Phil LaMarr) are still up to their villains ways in Gotham city. To assistant Batman in stopping this new crime syndicate, entitled Animilitia, is some familiar friends including Green Arrow (Chris Diamantopoulos), The Flash (Charlie Schlatter), Nightwing (Will Friedle), and Red Robin (Yuri Lowenthal).

For this series Warner Bros. and DC comics decided take a different direction from the Batman animated films that have been released in the past. Gone are the dark thematic elements, the muted colors, and the more adult theme material. Instead Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts has bright cheery colors and more playful elements than you would normal expect in a film about the Dark Knight. This new tone is even evident from the exterior packing of the Blu-ray/DVD combo with the addition of a plastic toy attached to the release.

While the tone is much lighter, this also leads to more playful scenes and dialog throughout the the film. Batman and friends are wittier than in the past, and the dialog scenes between them and the Animilitia team are more tongue-in-cheek and white (White?) than you would expect. 

Still there are a few issues with this new release. Along with the more playful dialog and bright cheery colors is a sense that the film does not take itself seriously. This in turn leads to no investment in the characters or even the story itself. At no time did I believe our heroes or Gotham was in grave danger, and I had no care either way what would happen by the time the film ended.  I was never invested in the story or the characters and could have easily turned of the movie halfway though.

The Blu-ray is presented in 1080p/AVC-encoding with no signs of artificating and brightly lit colors. The blacks are not muted and the animation is crisp which is a very big improvement over past releases. With it's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts boats a nice soundtrack. However unlike some of it's predecessors the channel seperations are not that evident nor is the dynamic range.

Warner Bros and DC went all out this time on special features for this release including ten DC comic shorts, two episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold series and a 13 minute introspective on The Penguin, Oswald Cobblepot.

Overall Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts is a very capable Blu-ray release with lots of content that will enjoyably consumed by children, but lacks the substance to keep the adult audience engaged past the initial viewing. B-

Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts is available for purchase on Blu-ray as well as Digital HD.

About Nathan M Rose

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