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Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts (2015) Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Limited Edition Gift Set cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts

Video Premiere: May 12, 2015 / Running Time: 77 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Director: Butch Lukic / Writer: Heath Corson

Voice Cast: Roger Craig Smith (Batman), Chris Diamantopoulos (Green Arrow), Will Friedle (Nightwing), Charlie Schlatter (The Flash), Yuri Lowenthal (Red Robin), Dana Snyder (The Penguin), John DiMaggio (Killer Croc), Keith Szarabajka (Silverback), Laura Bailey (Cheetah, Newscaster), Phil LaMarr (Man-Bat), Richard Epcar (Commissioner Gordon), Alastair Duncan (Alfred), Amanda Troop (Gladys Windsmere, Pretty Girl), Matthew Mercer (Mech Guard 1, Wealthy Jock), Eric Bauza (Punk #1, Rookie Cop), Mo Collins (Dispatch, Distinguished Woman), Keith Ferguson (Gruff Cop, Distinguished Man)

1.78:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
BD: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, German, Castilian, Latin American Spanish)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai)
Blu-ray Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, German SDH, Castilian, Latin American Spanish
DVD Subtitles: English, French, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai
Extras Subtitled; Not Closed Captioned
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (1 BD-50 & 1 DVD-9)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover in Cardboard Box with Figurine
Suggested Retail Price: $24.98
Also available as Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD without figurine ($24.98 SRP), standalone DVD ($19.98 SRP), standalone DVD with Figurine ($19.98 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

Buy Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts from Amazon:
Blu-ray Combo with Figurine Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD DVD with Figurine DVD Instant Video

How dizzying and difficult it must be to keep track of every animated incarnation of Batman. I have no idea how many people are passionate enough about the Caped Crusader to keep track of his every depiction and how many are simply content to enjoy what they discover and leave it at that.
I'm definitely in the latter class. I like the Tim Burton movies and the underappreciated first Joel Schumacher one. I love the Christopher Nolan trilogy. I enjoy the campy live-action '60s television series. When it comes to the cartoons, though, there's just an overwhelming amount of material, none of which has made a big enough impression on me to inspire fandom.

Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts looks and sounds like an extension to an existing TV series. It is not. This 77-minute original movie thrusts you into a new adventure, justly assuming this isn't your introduction to Gotham City but also probably hoping you haven't heard this story told before. I assume you have not, but I'm not anywhere near enough an authority to say that definitively.

The movie opens with the Midas Heart, an asteroid with a golden center, just days away from being witnessed by Gotham citizens. Batman, Nightwing, Red Robin, Flash, and Green Arrow find themselves up against an "animilitia" consisting of cyber animals unveiled by eccentric rich guy Oswald Cobblepot, better known as the Penguin. The Penguin's crew includes Killer Croc, Cheetah, Silverback, and Man-Bat. These formidable foes intend to harness the power of the approaching asteroid to get rich and take control of the city.

The heroes of "Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts" include Red Robin, Nightwing, Green Arrow, and, of course, Batman himself.

Unrated but unquestionably more kid-oriented than the PG-13 DC Universe Original Movies, Batman Unlimited is sprightly but lightweight entertainment. It's good guys vs. bad guys and not at all more sophisticated or complex than that. Flash is fast, Green Arrow is quippy,
and, in case you missed it, they are up against cyber animals. Who can say where this fits in among other animated Batman lore? Not me. It'd probably feel at home in 3 half-hour timeslots some Saturday morning, assuming that is still a viable outlet in these times of DVRs, online streaming, and endless digital cable channels.

Instead, Batman Unlimited reached stores this week as a direct-to-video production, one that is likely to make some money given the ubiquity of Warner Bros. Animation and DC Comics' collaborations. This movie, evidently born out of a Mattel toy line, is available in Warner's standard offerings of DVD and Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD. Each of those editions is also available with an exclusive Fire Bat figure of ambiguous origin.

VIDEO and AUDIO

These days, animation is practically guaranteed to look its very best on home video, since digital methods make for an easy, direct transition to Blu-ray. Batman Unlimited's 1.78:1 presentation is no exception, showcasing the basic but appealing visuals with nary a concern. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack also serves the material well, doing just enough to earn positive notice.

"Penguin: High Society Criminal" considers one of Batman's primary villains both here and over the years. Batman does battle with Bane in a DC Nation "The Bat Man of Shanghai" short.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's all-HD bonus features begin with "Penguin: High Society Criminal" (12:51), a featurette that considers the Batman villain in terms of his role here, his image, and his history.
Filmmakers, comic book creators, and fans weigh in on the antagonist.

Under DC Nation Shorts, we get ten of the 2-minute animated cartoons that air alongside DC series in Cartoon Network's DC Nation block.

From the Farm League series, a comedy slightly recalling the '90s Kids' WB heyday, there is "Snack Run" (2:23). From the stylized action serial The Bat Man of Shanghai, we get "Cat Woman" (2:17), "Bane" (2:17), and "Bat Man" (2:17). The comedy Plastic Man is represented by "The Bat and the Eel" (2:23).

The remaining five shorts hail from the silly Flash-animated Super-Pets: "Jokes on You" (2:23), "Have Your Cake and B'Dg Too" (2:23), "The League of Just Us Cows" (2:23), "Krypto vs. Streaky" (2:23), and "World's Finest Bark" (2:23).

A "Play All" option might have been nice, and the fact that credits typically run as long as the 'toons is a bit of a killjoy.

Batman meets another planet's red-suited Batman in the 2010 "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" episode "Super-Batman of Planet X!" On DVD, the straightforward cover-adapting main menu doesn't even offer a scene selection section.

From the DC Comics Vault houses two full episodes of "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" (2008-2011).
"Super-Batman of Planet X!" (23:02; Originally aired March 26, 2010) finds Batman meeting and teaming up with another planet's Batman. "Gorillas in Our Midst!" (22:36; Originally aired April 16, 2010), Batman and others face off against three malicious gorillas determined to take over Gotham.

The Trailers section holds promos for "Teen Titans Go!", LEGO: DC Superheroes - Justice League vs. Bizarro League, and Tom and Jerry: Spy Quest.

The DVD contains nearly everything the Blu-ray does, but it only retains five of the DC Nation Shorts, losing the five Super-Pets ones.

Both discs open with a trailer for "Ninjago: Rebooted."

The static, briefly scored main menus adapt the cover art. Like the DVD, the Blu-ray automatically resumes unfinished playback of all things.

The Fire Bat edition, which is given no special moniker but is probably only available while supplies last, places the full Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack, including sleek slipcover, in a big cardboard box behind a plastic compartment holding that 5-inch figurine. Inside the eco-friendly keepcase, one insert supplies your Digital HD with UltraViolet code and directions, while the other provides a coupon good for $5 off any one Mattel Batman item.

Cheetah, Silverback, and Killer Croc are among the baddies doing The Penguin's bidding in "Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts does not do a whole lot to stand out in the sea of animated DC Comics movies. Still, anyone in the market for an all-ages heroes and villains adventure could do much worse than this sufficiently entertaining outing.

As they tend to, Warner adds value to this fairly slight production with a wealth of savvily-selected bonus features from their massive TV animation vault plus a figurine. It gives this combo pack substance that the movie, probably a one-time viewing, could not on its own.

Buy Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts from Amazon:
Blu-ray Combo w/Figure / Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD w/Figure / DVD / Instant Video

Buy from Amazon.com

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Reviewed May 13, 2015.



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