Movie Review: Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts (2015, Dir, Butch Lukic)

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I think the PG-13/borderline R-rated content of DC’s animated movie line has spoiled most fans. Rightfully so. I remember when I was a kid thinking wouldn’t it be great if one day these superhero toons became more like their comic books? More mature, more graphic? Lo and behold that actually happened, but not until I was all grown up. All I can say is thank God my love for these kinds of toons never went away.  With JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time (2014) DC has now decided to create a line of animated hero toons without the graphic violence and occasional swearing of their PG-13 line and when news of that hit I know there was a segment of the fan base that presumed this meant “movies for kiddies.”

No, not in the least. Teen Titans Go! That’s a show for kiddies. Let me put it this way, if you’re a fan of Batman Beyond (’99-‘01), The Batman (’04-‘08) and Justice League/Justice League Unlimited (’01-‘06), then this new line will be right up your alley. Those were all quality TV shows that weren’t graphic in anyway but still delivered superb plots and characters. The only difference with this new line is the animation is a little better, especially in the action choreography. A trait it shares with its more mature line. Trust me, guys, these are quality produced movies here, even if they don’t deliver the cursing and the bloodshed.

While I still wait for a sequel to JLA Adventures it was announced in February DC would be adding movie adaptations of their Batman Unlimited toy line. The first one out of the box is Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts. Upon first viewing it I thought, perhaps, this could be some kind of unofficial bridging series between Batman: The Animated Series (’92-‘95) and Batman Beyond for there are flying cop cars in this movie, and Gotham looks very modern now, but as the movie went on it seems it’s supposed to be more of a contained universe thing, more of it’s own line, without any direct connection to anything that’s come before. I say this because Flash is in this movie and he runs straight up a building, something we’ve seen him do before, but here he says that was the first time he’s ever tried that, and Man-Bat is also present, but Batman doesn’t know it’s a transformed Kurt Langstrom. That’s a fact he doesn’t learn until the final act.

The plot here revolves around popular Batman villain, The Penguin, and his new company Bumbershoot Mechanics. Using Langstrom he’s built some robotic animals, two tiger-like robots and a bat. He claims at a press conference they will be used for good and not evil, but we already know that’s bullshit since our heroes have already tangled with them. Not only that but Silverback (a villain new to me), Cheetah, Killer Croc and the Man-Bat have come together to form what they call the Animalitia. But they’re crimes aren’t normal. They seem to be leaving things at the scenes rather than taking from them. Joining Batman in solving these capers is Red Robin (didn’t much care for this version of Robin), Nightwing (with funky anime-like hairstyle), Flash and Green Arrow.

As I previously mentioned the action animation is excellent, which is always the main selling point for me. I don’t want to give away the rest of the plot but as usual it’s one that gets “bigger,” as our band of heroes finally finds out what Penguin is really planning.

Back on May 12th Warner Brothers released Batman Unlimited into two editions: DVD/Blu-ray/Digital Copy w/Figure and DVD/Blu-ray/Digital Copy.

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chris_lee_sell_sheet-r-e1434727841217Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.78:1 high definition widescreen—5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio, 5.1 French Dolby Digital, 5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital, 5.1 German Dolby Digital—English SDH, French, Spanish, German SDH

Extras included on the blu-ray…

  • The Penguin: High Society Criminal (12:51)
  • Ten DC Nation shorts: “Justice League of Animals: Snack Run,” “The Bat Man of Shanghai: Cat Woman,” ” The Bat Man of Shanghai: Bane,” ” The Bat Man of Shanghai: Bat Man,” “Plastic Man: The Bat and the Eel,” “Super Pets: Jokes on You,” “Super Pets: Have Your Cake and B’Dg It Too,” “Super Pets: The League of Just Us Cows,” “Super Pets: Krypto vs. Streaky” and “Super Pets: World’s Finest Bark.”
  • From the DC Comics Vault: Two episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold (“Super-Batman of Planet X!” and “Gorillas in Our Midst’)
  • Trailers: Teen Titans Go!, LEGO: DC Superheroes: Justice League vs. Bizarro League and Tom and Jerry: Spy Quest.

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I was only a fan of a scant number of those DC Nation shorts, with the highlight being The Batman Of Shanghai, and I’m glad that one was included. I’d love to see a full-fledged series out of it too someday.

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