After watching the recently released Batman vs Robin, I was surprised to learn that yet another animated Batman film was on the way. While I was thrown off by it’s Saturday morning cartoon look and feel, Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts turned out to be a pretty solid entry in the DC animated universe. Featuring some nice extras, including a Firebat toy for use in the toy line, this release makes a great gift for anyone in the family and is something they can all watch together.
Things kick off in Gotham City in the somewhat near future, which reminded me heavily of the Batman Beyond series (heck, even the Batman costume at the beginning looks like the Beyond one minus the mouth cover). Here some of DC Comics’ animal-based villains such as Man-Bat, Killer Croc, Silverback, Cheetah, Penguin and more have come together to form the “Animilitia” and do what they do best, create chaos. It gets so out of control, that some of the other DC heroes like The Flash, Green Arrow (wonder if this has to do with the live-actions series of those characters), Nightwing and some others have to help out Batman to put a stop to it.
Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts turned out to be a pretty cool Batman adventure, despite it’s kid-friendly cartoon appearance. It is readily apparent that Warner Bros. intended this film to be made for kids and pre-teens, as while it’s not rated, there’s no swearing and bloody violence as with the Batman vs Robin movie. There is a healthy amount of violence here though, so older fans will want to stick around and watch. Seeing this is high definition was great, as the digital animation comes in super clean and detailed while the audio packs enough punch to keep viewers excited as they watch.
The special features here are quite impressive and made me want to view all of them. First off, there’s a pretty simple but cool looking Fire Bat toy that comes with the Blu-ray for use in Mattel’s Batman Unlimited toyline, perhaps as something that can attach to one of the many figures in that line. “Penguin: High Society Criminal” goes into Oswald Cobblepot’s troubled life and how he became one of Batman’s deadliest adversaries. Adding to the fun are two episodes from Batman: The Brave and the Bold’s second season titled “Super-Batman of Planet X!” and “Gorillas in Our Midst!”, with these being chosen to obviously fit with the whole animal motif of the feature film. Rounding out the features is the pretty awesome collection of “DC Nation Shorts” which serves up nearly 30 minutes of fun DC shorts from Cartoon Network’s DC Nation block that’s sure to bring some laughs and excitement to those who watch them.
Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts may be intended for kids and not be the dark and gritty Batman world most fans are used to, but it’s still one of his many adventures that’s worth checking out. This being coupled with a collectable toy and some awesome special features only sweeten the deal and will have fans of the caped crusader grabbing their utility belts and grapple hook-swinging their way to the store to add this movie to their collection.