HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem
HTS Overall Score:73
The “Batman Unlimited” universe was specifically created much like how the “Transformers” universe was created. As an outlet to sell more toys to children. “Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts” was a fun little futuristic Batman movie and gave me high hopes for having a lighter, less 52 Reboot universe much like the 90s and early 2000 cartoons. While “Monster Mayhem” is in the same vein as the first movie, it went a bit overboard with the jokes and kiddy humor, which ultimately ended up dropping the enjoyment factor for me quite dramatically. I’m a firm believer in balancing the darkness of the brooding dark knight with the light hearted fare of a comic book, but when you shift too far to one end of the spectrum things get a little one sided, and this is the major caveat of this entry into the “Batman Unlimited” universe.
It’s Halloween and a few of the REAL freaks have been let out of Arkham Asylum. The undead monster Solomon Grundy (Fred Tatasciore) and Silver Banshee (Kari Wuhrer) have been sprung by Scarecrow (Brian T. Delaney) to raise some havoc. Along with Clayface (David B. Mitchell) the more monstrous villains of Gotham capture and hold a young videogame developer named Gogo Shoto (Noel Fisher) for a nefarious plot. This, of course, doesn’t stop Gotham’s finest from doing their best to re-capture the villains and save the boy. Red Robin (Yuri Lowenthal), Batman (Roger Craig Smith), Nightwing (Will Friedle) and Green Arrow (Chris Diamantopoulos) band together once more to kick some bad guy tail.
There just so happens to be one problem with the plan. The head honcho is more of a threat than they imagined. The Joker (Troy Baker) is back in town and pulling the strings with a much more nefarious plan than the lower level thugs have in them. It seems that Joker has kidnapped Gogo for a very specific reason. With Gogo’s tech genius and his evil design, a computer virus is unleashed upon Gotham that completely immobilizes all of Gotham’s electronic equipment, which pretty much renders the city helpless. Now the inmates are running the asylum as Joker takes over and appoints his goons as sub rulers in this new “paradise”. However, as with most criminal plans, Joker has bigger aspirations. The world is a much bigger oyster than Just Gotham city, and with the unwitting help of Cyborg and the rest of our hero’s electronic equipment, he plans on transmitting the virus worldwide, creating one large happy Joker ruled planet.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=51666[/img]by the same directors and writing staff felt a little forced and bland. It seems as if the jokes and attempts at keeping it lighthearted ever so slightly backfired in their face. I love a good wise cracking comic book film, but there was just a little TOO much in there. We have scenes with the Joker giving Grundy a peck on the cheek out of happiness and Grundy ends up blushing like a school girl. Pizza jokes taken too far and every other line seems to be just trying TOO hard. The core was still there, and for that I was thankful, as the series does have a lot to offer us. I like to say that the Unlimited universe feels a lot like “Batman Begins”. The setting is in 2030, the tech is much more advanced, but instead of following the original timeline and having Bruce Wayne be in his 80s and a new Batman taking over, we’ve just had Bruce born into a later period and updated it ever so slightly. The show even goes so far as to have Nightwing voiced by Will Friedle, who just so happened to play Terry McGinnis (Batman) in “Batman Beyond”. It’s a nice little touch and his skills easily make him the most entertaining character of the bunch.
While the last movie had Penguin trying to blow up Gotham (to an extant), this entry is a little bit more fractured, with the villains getting a lot more individual screen time. This harms and benefits the narrative as it’s a lot more fun watching Grundy and Silver Banshee tear things up, and it’s really fun to see the TRADITIONAL scarecrow make an appearance, death scythe and all. The voice actors do a good job, those I wasn’t wildly entertained by Troy Baker’s Joker. The voice is pretty good, but the inflections and energy that other actors have put into the character just didn’t jive well with me. Nightwing as awesome, as afore mentioned, and Red Robin does a solid Job. My big joy is having Chris play Green Arrow. Arrow is no longer a morose brooding Batman clone, but the wise cracking and utility arrow style archer from the 90s. Oliver has always been a welcome foil to Batman in the Justice league and a great little side character here as well.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=51674[/img]Another Batman movie and another solid encode. Colors for the unlimited universe are bright and cheerful, with tons of primary colors as well as the standard blacks and greys that saturate the Gotham nightscape. Red Robin’s outfit is bright and shiny as can be, with the neon green of Arrow’s suit to add to the plethora of colors. Fine detail is excellent, although the animation style is a bit pedestrian for today’s level of animation tool. Another nod to the show being a tad low budget, but the lines are clean and there is no digital manipulation to be scene. HOWEVER, this would not be a DC animated film if we didn’t see our old friend color banding. It’s not as egregious as some of the others like “Son of Batman”, but the banding is noticeable if you know what you’re looking for. Black levels are suitably dark, but the banding is most noticeable in those parts, so it’s kind of a catch 22.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=51682[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix for “Monster Mayhem” is a blast, with all sorts of explosions and fisticuffs to keep the audience entertained. The “Batman Unlimited” universe is a little more simplistic and toned down in sound design over the more “mature” Batman animated films coming out of Warner, but the track does more things right than one would expect for such a low budget animated film. The dialog is crisp and clean, without any distortions and the surrounds get a hefty workout from the battle sequences. Surrounds are used amply, with lots of swishing and wooshing sounds from The Flash zipping by, or the shriek of Batman’s many gadgets roaring to life. LFE is tight and clean, with a good sense of aggression, but is ever so slightly one noteish in terms of bass clarity. Still, it’s a very nice sounding track and one that does the Blu-ray Justice.
• GOTHAM 2030: Designing a Future World
• Ten shorts from the popular DC Nation collection, including “SHAZAM! Courage,” “SHAZAM! Wisdom,” “SHAZAM! Stamina,” “Green Arrow: Onomotopoeia-Bot,” “Green Arrow: Brick,” “Green Arrow: Cupid,” “Deadman: Deadman Catch,” “Animal Man vs. Captain Cold,” “Animal Man vs. Black Manta” and “Riddler: Riddle Me This!”
“Monster Mayhem” is a slight disappointment for the fact that it tried a bit too hard compared to it’s predecessor, but the entertainment value is still there. I did chuckle quite a bit at how obvious it was what new toys Mattel was putting out. The dinosaur, the new Red Robin hover scooter etc. just SCREAMED “I’m going to be available at Toys R Us next week”. I may not have enjoyed it as much as “Animal Instincts”, but the universe is appealing and you can never have too much batman in your life. The audio and video side of the equation are right on par for the course with DC animated films, so no surprises there, which lets me recommend this one as a solid rental. It’s not fantastic, but Batman fans will want to give this one a look, especially since it caters more towards the PG crowd rather than the adult fare that a lot of the others tend to cater to.
Starring: Troy Baker, Noel Fisher, Kari Wuhrer
Directed by: Butch Lukic
Written by: Heath Corson
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish, German DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 80 Minutes
Own it on Blu-ray™ Combo, DVD & Digital HD 8/18/15
Buy Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Good Rental
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