Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts
Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts 2015
While I had initially only planned to do animation through April, May is almost over and I’m still sticking to the animated fare. And while I’ve just gone though catching up on a few Marvel animated films I hadn’t gotten around to yet, DC is still cranking them out on a regular basis. I hadn’t heard much lead up to this title so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect at all. I’m not familiar with any sort of Batman Unlimited universe whether in the comics or on TV. From what I can tell from this film it’s set in the future, kind of like Batman Beyond, but instead of it being a future generation, it’s just Batman and several of the less extraterrestrial Justice League set in the future. It also reminded me a little bit of last year’s JLA Adventures where this was a very kid friendly adventure as opposed to the increasingly darker PG-13 stories typical of recent DC Animated films. It’s also worth noting that this film is intended to help launch a new toy line of DC Unlimited characters which will also continue in shorts and future home video films which actually makes me think of the Monster High style of marketing. As an actual film it was a fun little adventure without too much real depth to it, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
The film starts up with a series of crimes committed by various animal related villains from several different DC Rogue’s galleries. First off is Wonder Woman’s Cheetah (who by the way is the only woman out of the entire group). Next is Batman’s Killer Croc with a metal jaw, followed by Man-Bat, new to the scene and not Gorilla Grodd as I originally thought but a very similar simian named Silverback, and led by Penguin in what essentially becomes his origin story in this universe. On the heroes side of things we of course have Batman, with his ally Nightwing and sidekick Red Robin. And throughout the movie Red Robin is never without his costume so I have no idea who is underneath the costume. And visiting Gotham is Flash and Green Arrow to help out. They have an interesting dynamic between all of them, there’s a feeling of both familiarity where they all know each other and have worked together before but don’t team up on a regular basis. Batman and Green Arrow both know each others secret identities, but Nightwing and the Flash feel like they’ve never worked together before. It’s only a little strange and the unfamiliarity is mostly played for laughs.
The villain’s plan is inspired by a combination of revenge and greed. Penguin gets just a bit of an origin story here. He’s introduced as a very wealthy socialite, though all of the other high society members only tolerate him because of his money and think he’s a complete weirdo behind his back. His monocle also is a high tech HUD that allows him to overhear these conversations they are having and has other functions as shown when he first shows up when he triggers a chain reaction to make some bricks fall on a couple street thugs’ heads. He has recruited these other villains in his animalitia in order to create this laser umbrella force field which will protect his Aviary tower from a giant meteor full of gold that they plan on bringing down directly on top of Gotham. He also has a small army of robotic animals, tigers, wolves, and bats. I’ll also give just a bit of background on Silverback who is yet another highly intelligent gorilla, only without Grodd’s telepathic powers. Instead, Silverback is revealed to be a robot himself, and is generally the leader of the group when they’re out on the field away from Penguin’s mastermind lair.
As this is more of a kid friendly film, the fights are more often filled with gags rather than real violence, at one point the Flash gets hooked by a rope trap and is used as a tetherball for a group of gorillas in the zoo. There is the one bit of surprise that’s not much of a surprise to comic fans when the scientist who designed the robots also turns out to be Man-Bat and essentially mindless like a werewolf. Though there is a bit where Batman is able to create a three hour cure so he can help them hack three of the robots, and at the end Red Robin is able to get through to his humanity while in the Man-Bat form so he can save the day in the end. There’s nothing really revelatory about the plot of this film, it’s a standard comic book villain plot but it’s handled with the right amount of fun that lets you go along for the ride.
The designs of the characters were a little bit off putting compared to a lot of the DC animation that has come before. There’s an overwhelming amount of that giant anime spiky hair, especially the front part that shoots out like a rhino horn that both Nightwing and Commissioner Gordon have for some reason. And Green Arrow has the emo hood that is always covering one eye. I suppose that could have an excuse of being appropriate for aiming so he doesn’t have to bother with closing one eye to line up his shots correctly. Red Robin also seemed like an odd choice, especially without ever clarifying which young ward it was under the mask. The voice acting was decent as usual, there weren’t any name actors, instead mostly voice acting regulars. I did watch it with my daughter Jena, and while she seemed to enjoy it, nothing really stuck out as particularly exciting. Overally, just a generally decent film that is quite a bit of fun, especially if you have a kid that’s still too young to enjoy the darker DC Animated Universe. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.