The Batman: Training for Power – Season 1 Vol. 1

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Rating: TV-Y7

Starring:
Rino Romano as Bruce Wayne/The Batman (voice)
Alastair Duncan as Alfred Pennyworth (voice)
Steve Harris as Detective Ethan Bennett (voice)
Ming-Na as Detective Ellen Yin (voice)
Joaquim de Almeida as Bane (voice)
Tom Kenny as The Penguin (voice)
Edward James Olmos as Chief Angel Rojas (voice)
Kevin Michael Richardson as The Joker (voice)
Adam West as Mayor Grange (voice)

Special Features:
Challenges: “The Batman Junior Detective”

Featurette: “Building the Batman”

Other: “Cape & Cowl” toy easter egg

Other Info:
Fullscreen (1.85:1)
Running Time: 63 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is the official description of the DVD:

“Three episodes from the all-new The Batman animated TV series available for the first time on DVD.

Episode Synopses:

1) The Bat in the Belfry: The Batman finds himself dealing with a new breed of criminal when the Joker takes over Arkham Asylum, then plans to fly a hot air balloon filled with Joker Gas, a toxin which leaves its victims in a strange rictus state, and pop its contents all over Gotham!

2) Traction: The Batman faces off with masked criminal Bane, and once Bane’s chemical steroid-infusion is activated, Batman finds himself outmatched in the brute strength department.

3) Call of the Cobblepot: Ozzy Cobblepot, aka Penquin, has delusions of rebuilding the last Cobblepot fortune, via high-flying robberies employing various trained birds. Unaware of Cobblepot’s criminal plans, Alfred finds himself in the run-down and decrepit Cobble pot mansion where he is ensnared by Ozzy. Now, Penguin will let his hungry birds feast upon Alfred, unless The Batman can rescue him in time.”

The Batman: Training for Power – Season 1 Vol. 1 is rated TV-Y7.

The Series:
When The Batman first aired in 2004, I made a special point to wake up early Saturday morning with my kids and watch it on TV. I was initially impressed, but soon my kid (a big Batman fan) wandered away from the TV and I got bored as well. I’m not sure I even watched the ending of the show. I didn’t see another episode of The Batman after that. So when this DVD arrived, it was a chance for me to reevaluate the series. Sadly, this DVD only features 3 episodes of the show, but the other two episodes featuring Bane and Penguin convinced me that The Batman was worth giving another chance. It doesn’t hold a candle to the original Batman animated series, but it does have its strong points. I enjoyed it a lot more on DVD.

To me the most notable thing about The Batman is the whole new design of the show. From the costumes to the gadgets to the villains, everything is presented with a unique new take. I think the young Batman costume looks great and I like the new Batmobile. The new versions of the villains are pretty cool, too. Joker is shown as some revamped clown in a straight jacket. Bane has a sort of ninja suit until he blows up. Penguin is flanked by two geishas that transform into freakish Edward Scissorhands-like fighters. I think they certainly achieved the “hip new look” they were going for.

The other notable thing about The Batman is the animation and the action. It’s almost anime-like in its pacing and style. That anime inspiration works beautifully in the action sequences. There’s an epic battle between Bane and Batman in a robotic suit. The force of the blows in the fight is beautifully portrayed. The opening battle in the pilot between Batman and some thugs is quite impressive as they are highlighted in a strobe effect by gunshots. A battle between Batman and the Penguin in a lit up tree is also beautifully done. Overall it’s some great animation.

As you may already know, this TV series goes back to the early years of Batman just when he’s getting the hang of his new persona. I think it was a good time period to go to, especially in light of Batman Begins being released. While the show rewrites a lot of Batman lore, it’s cool to see someone else’s take on the origin of the character. Bruce Wayne is also portrayed as a hip, rich young socialite. You see him at trendy clubs, listening to techno music, and other stuff he’s never done before. While previous incarnations of the playboy have been more timeless, this makes a blatant attempt to update him.

The cast of the show is quite impressive. Adam West returns to the Batman universe as Mayor Grange. Steve Harris from The Practice plays Detective Ethan Bennett. Ming-Na (E.R. and Final Fantasy) is the voice of Detective Ellen Yin. Tom Kenny, Spongebob Squarepants himself, has a role as The Penguin while Edward James Olmos is Chief Angel Rojas. Various other established voice talents play the other major roles in the show.

If you’re a Batman fan, I think you’ll find this series is worth checking out. It may take you a few episodes to fall in love with it, but it is required viewing if you’re to earn your cape and cowl. Animation fans will also want to see it to check out a new interpretation of the Dark Knight. On a side note, though, you may want to wait until the entire series is released on DVD rather than just buy a few episodes at a time like this. It could take a couple of years to happen, though.

The Extras:
As you might expect, this DVD is light on the bonus features. Here’s what you will find:

“The Batman Junior Detective” – This is a trivia game hosted by Alfred. The questions are quite easy. For example, it asks what city Batman operates in. Oddly, this doesn’t operate like your standard DVD trivia game. Rather than selecting options with your remote, it’s simply a video that plays all the way through asking questions and giving answers while showing video clips. It’s nothing elaborate.

“Building the Batman” – Ming Na as Detective Ellen Yin hosts this tour of the Mattel offices that create the Batman toys. You get to see the sculptors, the computer modelers, and more. It’s pretty cool to see how the toys are made even if it’s done with cheesy interrogations by Yin.

The Bottom Line:
While it takes some warming up to, The Batman is a pretty cool new take on the legendary character that should please both kids and adults. Unfortunately this DVD only has 3 episodes.

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