The Batman vs Dracula (2005, Michael Goguen)

BatmanvsDracula

An occasional series where I write about works inspired by Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula…

These reviews reveal plot twists.

Setting: Gotham City, the present day.

Faithful to the novel? No, it’s using the character of Dracula as a villain. This feature-length animated film was a straight-to-DVD spin-off from The Batman (2004-2008), a 65-episode cartoon series. In it, the coffin of Count Dracula (Peter Stormare) is found in a Gotham cemetery by the Penguin (Tom Kenny), who has recently escaped from Arkham Asylum and is looking for some lost loot. A drop of the Penguin’s blood inadvertently brings the vampire back to life. He initially appears haggard and corpse-like, but grows stronger and more human-looking as he feeds. We see flashbacks to him being staked years earlier in Transylvania; his body was then moved to Gotham for reasons unknown. We also learn that the count was once married to Carmilla Karnstein (from Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1871 novella), who he now wants to resurrect. Dracula hypnotises the Penguin into being his acolyte (he’s this story’s Renfield), and also assembles a gang of followers by turning them (temporarily, as it turns out) into vampires. Meanwhile, millionaire Bruce Wayne (Rino Romano) is dating journalist Vicki Vale (Tara Strong). Dracula meets them both when he gatecrashes a party – using the alias Dr Alucard – and identifies Vicki as a means of helping Carmilla. When his battle of wits with Dracula gets underway, the Batman uses the infected Joker (Kevin Michael Richardson) to research a cure. But it’s by targeting a new solar-energy machine, which was clumsily seeded earlier in the story, that he’s finally able to defeat the vampire.

Best performance: Thomas Chase Jones’s music is superb, especially when using flashes of rock guitar.

Best bit: The Batman and Dracula’s first fight – staged on rooftops, Dracula has the upper hand with ease.

Review: The meeting of Batman and Dracula, two bat-related fictional icons who have had many incarnations, is an interesting one. The Count himself even draws the parallel in this film: “My legacy has been quite influential,” he says. And this animated special makes great play of the characters’ connection. Bruce Wayne even has a psychologically resonant dream in which the Batman and Dracula are merged into one creature. The plot might be simple, but the stylish animation and genuinely scary sequences mean this film is entertaining enough. Although superficially similar, it’s unrelated to Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, which I reviewed elsewhere on this site. It’s a new continuity and a new cast.

Seven lost ones out of 10

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