Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman
Original Release Date - October 21st, 2003 - Video Release
A ruthless destructive vigilante posing as Batwoman is wreaking havoc in
Gotham City. While she sets her sights on thwarting Penguin's evil
plans, Batman concentrates on discovering this mysterious imposter's
true identity. But when she's captured by the vicious Bane, it falls
upon the caped crusader to rescue her, defeat Bane and foil the
Penguin's devious plot himself.
Media by Bird Boy, Borg4of3 and Chris M.
Review by Maxie Zeus
"Batman: The Animated Series" Theme by Shirley Walker.
"Betcha Neva" written by Dave James, Alan Ross & Natasha
Beddingfield; Performed by Cherie.
Executive Producers: Sander Schwartz, Benjamin Melniker and
Supervising Producer: Alan Burnett
Producer: Margaret M. Dean
Associate Producer Kathryn Page
Casting & Voice Direction: Andrea Romano
Editor: Margaret Hou
Sequence Directors: Jennifer Graves and Tim Maltby
Story by: Alan Burnett
Written by: Michael Reaves
Produced & Directed by: Curt Geda
Music by: Lolita Ritmanis
Animations Services by D.R. Movie CO., LTD.
Kevin Conroy as Batman
Kimberly Brooks as Kathy Duquesne
Kelly Ripa as Rocky
Elisa Gabrielli as Sonia
Kyra Sedgwick as Batwoman
David Ogden Stiers as The Penguin
Kevin Michael Richardson as Carlton Duquesne
John Vernon as Rupert Thorne
Hector Elizondo as Bane
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Alfred
Eli Marienthal as Robin
Tara Strong as Barbara Gordon
Bob Hastings as Commissioner Gordon
Robert Costanzo as Detective Bullock
Sean Patrick Thomas
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|Review (Maxie Zeus): Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman,
Warner Bros.' new animated direct-to-video movie, is not a deep or
profound entry in the Bat-cycle, nor is it a particularly exciting one.
But it's a pleasant afternoon-filler and will likely please those fans
of the animated universe who fondly recall the low-impact dramatics of
the series' first incarnation. That may sound like faint praise, but
only a churl would look for a follow-up that competed with the
smash-mouth style of Return of the Joker. If this one feels like a
"breather," well, we all need those from time to time.
For those who care about such things, the story is set somewhere between
the close of The New Batman Adventures and the events described in
flashback in Return of the Joker. Batman and Robin are still patrolling
the city, but Barbara Gordon has gone off to college. (Those familiar
with Batman Beyond will also recognize hints of a developing
relationship between Bruce and Barb.) So the city goes into a mini-tizzy
when a new Bat-character appears. "Batwoman," they dub the bat-clad
female vigilante who is taking out the weapons manufacturing operations
of the Penguin. He, Rupert Thorne (making a welcome but somewhat wasted
return) and new character Carlton Duquense are making and selling
high-tech guns for a foreign power, and Batwoman, for unknown reasons,
is determined to shut it down. Batman, for his part, is worried that the
public will confuse her with him and is intent on uncovering her
identity and stopping her.
He quickly latches onto suspect number one: Kathy Duquense, Carlton's
fast-talking, fast-living daughter, but his feelings are complicated
when he becomes smitten with the vivacious girl. The movie breaks no new
ground hereóBruce has tilled this same field with both Catwoman and
Andrea Beaumontóbut Kathy is an attractively written character, and
voice actress Kimberley Brooks brings her to sexy life. The relationship
isn't really believable: Bruce is old enough to be her father, and Kathy
is a real light-weight. But the movie doesn't push them at each other
and is content to let them chase and banter in an old-fashioned,
Hawksian kind of way. Their scenes together, wisely, play more like
gentle comedy than star-crossed romance.
That tone, overall, is the movie's real strength. It doesn't take itself
very seriously and plays like a jazz riff on old themes. (In this it is
ably abetted by Lolita Ritmanis's torchy score.) Its relaxed attitude is
also reflected in a relaxed treatment its own purported "mystery." Like
an Agatha Christie (or a Scooby Doo, come to that), it trots out the
line-up of obvious suspects-cum-red herrings for the Batwoman's real
identity: Kathy herself; Rocky Ballantine, a smart but klutzy blonde;
Sonia Alcana, a tough-talking police lieutenant; and (for those
especially observant and/or paranoid), Penguin's throaty lounge singer.
(Oh, and let's not overlook Barbara. Is she really off at college?) But
writers Alan Burnett and Michael Reaves are smart enough not to play the
mystery out too long and lay their cards face up at just about the
moment the audience has likely figured out the real Batwoman's identity.
At that point the movie either has your attention or it doesn't, as it
shifts into straight action mode.
The action scenes are not very thrilling, but neither are they
perfunctory; in keeping with the film's retro-noir mood, they go for
graceful choreography (especially in a high-kicking, dance-like battle
between Batwoman and a pair of the Penguin's henchwomen) rather than
extreme bone-crunching. I don't know if most audiences will be bored or
not, but I think it is a good choice, as it fits better with the movie's
A word about performances: There have been three major recasting
decisions. The first, and least arguable change, has Eli Marienthal
stepping in for Mathew Valencia as Robin, apparently a function of
Valencia's changing voice. That's a justifiable reason, but Marienthal
is a bit too much the excited teenage boy in this film, where Valencia
covered Robin's youth with a somewhat studied ennui. As Bane, Hector
Elizondo gives a softer and less menacing air to the masked colossus
than did Henry Silva, but only die-hard viewers are apt to notice.
Meanwhile, in what will surely be the most controversial aspect of the
film, David Ogden Stiers has taken over the role of the Penguin from
Paul Williams. The fact is that Williams owns the role of the Penguin as
much as Mark Hamill owns the Joker and Kevin Conroy owns Batman. It
doesn't matter that Stiers delivers an impeccable performance with lots
of nuance and characteróit is still an alien voice. Otherwise, the
acting stable is uniformly good, and it's a particular joy to have Efrem
Zimbalist Jr. making a major reappearance as Alfred, still as dry and
silvery and sardonic as ever. He hasn't had this much screen time in a
Batman since the days of the first series.
And that's where viewers looking to be pleased should go. Batman:
Mystery of the Batwoman uses the redesigned look of The New Adventures,
but in tone it more closely resembles The Animated Series. Partly that's
because it uses a gangster-driven storyline (something TNBA rarely
indulged in) and partly because it has a dialogue-heavy script, in which
Batman especially is less than taciturn. But it also has the louche,
character-driven feel of the best BTAS episodes, a quality that was
partially eclipsed by the later, more virtuosic series.
Those expecting a dark, gothic and gripping cinematic experience, a la
Mask of the Phantasm or Return of the Joker, may be disappointed. But,
as usual, Alfred puts it best. At one point in the film, he cheekily
describes a tail job as a "pleasure drive." That's Batman: Mystery of
the Batwoman in a nutshell: a relaxing cruise down memory lane. Highly
recommended for those looking for just that kind of diversion.