Monday 9 November 2009

Batman vs Dracula

Like any horror hound, I like vampires. And like any sensible girl, I love Batman. So I'd be remiss to not watch a movie that featured both.

After breaking out of Arkham Assylum, Joker and Penguin are both after the same haul of treasure, said to be hidden in a crypt. Joker is waylaid by Batman leaving Penguin alone to find the stash. What he finds instead is a corpse. An unfortunate accident ressurcets Dracula from his tomb and he promptly begins to feed on the residents of Gotham. Batman makes it his mission to find the missing people and prevent further disppearances. But when he discovers that Dracula is responsible he instead devotes his time to finding a cure for vampirism. Preferring to meet Dracula on his own terms, Batman decides to wait until just before dawn before he tackles the vampire, but his hand is forced when Dracula targets Vicki Vale.

This particular animated Batman feature is not the film noir, Bruce Timm-inspired Batman, but The Batman, which features a slightly different look and feel and a younger Bruce Wayne. Batman vs Dracula does, however, maintain the same mature themes and the same level of violence that were established and showcased in both series.

To be honest, I was never a huge fan The Batman. Though it features the same animation as Jackie Chan Adventures, which I really enjoy, I was (and still am) a devotee of Batman: TAS. But that doesn't mean I didn't like or appreciate this film. Batman vs Dracula is dark and brooding, with equal amounts action and drama.

The film, like many vampire movies, treats vampirism as a disease but also pays homage to the supernatural nature of vampires themselves. The pairing of science and magic is seldom encountered but cartoons are, I argue, a perfect outlet for exploring this dichotomy. It's a lot easier for an audience to suspend their disbelief with animation as it is already far removed from reality. As such, both Wayne Industries' solar generator and Dracula's magic powers are perfectly at home in the world of The Batman.

However, and most interestingly, this world is shielded from the existence of the supernatural. Only Batman, Alfred, and Penguin know what's going on. Everyone else lives in ignorance of the fact that vampires are real in spite of the rash of disappearances and the arrival of the strange Dr. Alucard in Gotham City. Really, given the villains that inhabit The Batman's universe, it should come as no surprise that the undead are walking the earth, but still, when confronted with indisputable proof, Alfred cannot immediately accept the truth of the matter.

Thankfully, this skepticism doesn't last and the bulk of the movie is dedicated to Batman trying to find a way to defeat Dracula. The film doesn't twist and turn, and the story follows a predictable course, but I don't think it suffers any for it. Rather, the slow pacing allows for character development that touches on a few different themes. Ideas about love and humanity, desire and need, are explored through the interactions of Batman, Dracula, Vicki Vale, and Joker.

Batman vs Dracula does a good job wedding the two franchises. Like any good vampire movie, there's a decent amount of blood sucking that goes on and Dracula proves to be a formidable villain. And like any good Batman movie, there's a lot of action and affirmation in defeat of the bad guy.

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