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BATMAN: MYSTERY OF THE BATWOMAN ($25) is an entertaining direct-to-video animated release; however, the film isnít as dark and moody as this fan of The Dark Knight would have liked. Perhaps, BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER THE ORIGINAL, UNCUT VERSION, spoiled me, and I was expecting something a bit more brooding and twisted this time round. Still the program is completely solid and provides superhero animation fans with a good deal of action. The plot of BATMAN: MYSTERY OF THE BATWOMAN finds The Caped Crusader having to deal with a new vigilante in Gotham City- one that is mimicking his identity. While Batman has always drawn the line at taking the lives of criminals, the newly arrived Batwoman doesnít seem bothered by the thought of stepping over that very same line. With his own reputation on the line, it falls to Batman to figure out who the Batwoman is and what she is up to. BATMAN: MYSTERY OF THE BATWOMAN features the vocal talents of Kevin Conroy, Tara Strong, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Bob Hastings, David Ogden Stiers, Hector Elizondo, Kelly Ripa, Kyra Sedgwick, John Vernon and Mathew Valencia.

Warner Home Video has made BATMAN: MYSTERY OF THE BATWOMAN available on DVD in a 1.37:1 full screen presentation; although, you would think by this time all such productions would be formatted at 1.78:1 for wide screen high definition television compatibility. The 4:3 presentation looks absolutely terrific, displaying a clean, crisp animated image. Colors are strongly rendered and completely stable. Blacks appear highly accurate and the whites are pure. The elements used to master the film to video appear virtually pristine. Digital compression artifacts are always well concealed.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack isnít particularly aggressive, especially where the surrounds are concerned, with the sound design giving the general impression of a mildly upgraded version of Dolby Surround. Channel separation is good across the forward soundstage, with the rears providing ambient sound and musical fill. Fidelity is very good and the voices are distinct and nicely recorded. The bass channel proves to be more than solid for this type of material. A French surround track is also provided, as are English, French, and Spanish subtitles.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some nice extras. Chase Me is a neat short animated film featuring Batman and Catwoman. Behind the Mystery is a nine-minute program that features interviews with the behind-the-scenes personnel and vocal talent. Batman: P.O.V. is a ten-minute look at story development and character design for the feature. The Making Of A Scene runs two minutes and features vocal director Andrea Romano, who briefly explains how the animation production process works and how the final film is put together. Bat Cave Profiles offers background info on the characters, while Bat Gadgets profiles the technology of The Caped Crusader. Promos for other superhero DVD close out the extras.

BATMAN: MYSTERY OF THE BATWOMAN is an entertaining direct-to-video program that is perfectly suited to teen viewers. However, as an older fan of Batman, I would have preferred something a bit darker in tone. As for the DVD, it looks great for a 4:3 animated program and sounds just fine. If you are a fan of the TV series that inspired this latest direct-to-video release, youíll want to investigate BATMAN: MYSTERY OF THE BATWOMAN.



Batman - Mystery of the Batwoman (2003)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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