STUDIO: Warner Home Video
RP: $19.98
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 292 minutes
• The Batman: Season 4 Unmasked

The Pitch

Hyperactive children get to watch a poorly drawn Jeff Matsuda Batman.

The Humans

Sam Liu, Anthony Chun, Ginny McSwain, Rino Romano, Evan Sabara, Kevin Michael Richardson and Louis Gossett, Jr.

The Nutshell

Bruce Wayne watched his parents get gunned down in Crime Alley after a night at the Opera. But, it might’ve been a night after watching The Mark of Zorro at a downtown cinema. You never can tell the origin of Batman, but things always stay the same. He uses his family’s amassed wealth to become a vigilante and place children in danger. If that wasn’t enough, he can do the Batusi.

Worst circus act ever. The older two didn’t even fly.

The Lowdown

The Batman: The Complete Fourth Season is another year into the heavily anime influenced retelling of The Dark Knight. If you’re looking for the dark, but simplistic Diniverse version of The Batman, that’s long gone. What you get is a show full of the motion lines that dominated Eastern Animated Action for decades. Bane doesn’t just have his muscles expand; he turns into a bright red creature similar to DC’s Brimstone. I get the paradigm that bigger and dumber will always impress children and Middle America, but what happened to sticking to what makes the characters work?

He knows that the little green tights aren’t made out of Kevlar, doesn’t he?

A lot of people would take fault with addressing the superficial, but superficial design is what drives a lot of American animation. Compare something like Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to Mickey Mouse and see who lasted. The rascally rabbit that was poorly drawn has become an animated oddity, while the friendly mouse became one of the most recognizable cultural icons in the world. The same goes for this Batman who looks sharper and more dynamic than the latest concept car out of Detroit. Same goes for all of the other characters, save for their interpretation of James Gordon. But, I chalk Gordon’s success up to the voice work by Mitch Pileggi. Nobody messed with the Shocker.

The voice acting is another bag, as it makes and breaks the episodes found in this season. You have to feel for Kevin Michael Richardson, as he does the impossible task of picking up the role of the animated Joker after Mark Hamill’s legendary turn. Richardson does a decent job, but he doesn’t really knock it out of the park. That’s the way that a lot of this season goes. Great ideas such as Team Penguin, that ends up turning into fluff. I shouldn’t be expecting so much from an animated series, but I’m weird like that.

Things were different in Gotham, after The Joker became infected with the RAGE Virus.

The episodes run the gamut from lame to slightly interesting. Most hardcore fans know that this is the year in which the all-new Harley Quinn was introduced into the mix. It also started the slow build to the all-new, all-different Justice League during the Season Finale. But, before that happened…you had everything from a Robin origin story to Ron Perlman’s worst voice-acting work ever to get through. Thirteen episodes only bring you about three good episodes, four so-so ones and six lame as hell Gotham City adventures.

That’s the shittiest line-up this side of the Filmation Batman series that threw Bat-Mite into the mix. That’s inexcusable in this day and age, but what are you going to do? The kids don’t have the attention to follow any sense of continuity and they want everything to look like Pokemon. We should be lucky that they haven’t produced an Ace: The Bat-Hound series and made everyone watch that. Dear Lord, I think that I just gave them an idea.

I’m the God-damned Robin doesn’t exactly have the same ring.

The Package

The Batman gets a rather limp package, but that’s typical for these complete season sets of DCU Animated Titles. For every weak release that this show gets, there’s a Legion of Super Heroes fan that is still pining for a legit release of Season One to DVD. The Batman: Season 4 Unmasked is nothing than a rudimentary look at what happened during the season. If you have a functioning memory, then the feature is largely useless. Who watches a DVD like this for a highlight reel?

The amount of bizarre extras that gets tagged onto animated shows always leaves me scratching my head. But, if you’re a kid…you don’t care. You just want to see Batman slap some crooks around. Nothing says Saturday Morning entertainment like a costumed millionaire Playboy punching the mentally ill or a high school dropout in the teeth. Crime doesn’t pay, kids. Neither does watching this DVD.

The only villain lamer than Calendar Man.

5.0 out of 10