Review: Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem

Second verse, same as the first… but now with more Joker and a cyber-robo-T-rex.

So if you enjoyed the first futuristic, colorful Batman Unlimited adventure, you’re probably going to enjoy the second, “Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem.” It follows roughly the same pattern as the first movie – a bunch of motley minor supervillains start running amuck, and are found to be involved in a mysterious scheme that threatens all of Gotham city. But it has enough mysteries and differences that it doesn’t feel repetitive, especially with the outstanding Troy Baker taking center stage as everyone’s favorite psychotic clown.

On Halloween, Solomon Grundy (Fred Tatasciore), Silver Banshee (Kari Wuhrer) and Scarecrow (Brian T. Delaney) manage to break out of Arkham Asylum and escape, despite the best efforts of Nightwing (Will Friedle) and Green Arrow (Chris Diamantopoulos). Batman isn’t entirely sure why they’re teaming up, and he gets a little distracted by the kidnapping of a famous video game designer by Clayface. And who is the mastermind behind all of this? None other than the Joker (Troy Baker).

Unfortunately, the Joker has a plan far more devious than merely kidnapping video game designers and stealing atomic batteries. After stealing a rare Incan gem, he unleashes a computer virus on all of Gotham, reducing the city to a darkened shell of its former self and turning Batman’s tech against him and his allies. Oh, and he declares himself king and puts his various cronies in positions of power. So naturally Batman and his allies will have to get creative in order to find their enemies and bring them down – both physically and digitally – before Joker has the chance to spread his virus across the entire world.

If you enjoyed Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts, there’s a fairly good chance you will also enjoy Batman Unlimited: Mutant Mayhem. It still has the feeling of a fluffy but fun toy commercial with a plot added, and it has mostly the same heroic cast – although Cyborg is a supporting superhero rather than the Flash – and a fairly colorful array of villains. But the real showstopper is the Joker, played to gleefully insane perfection by Troy Baker. Baker is probably the second-best animated Joker out there, and he gives a thoroughly fun performance (such as when he plays several news anchors at once).

Of course, the entire cast is pretty good – Smith has a good low voice for Batman, Diamantopoulos is good as the lighter, wittier Green Arrow, and they’re backed by Friedle and Yuri Lowenthal as Nightwing and Red Robin. The latter two are also made more distinct by showing some of Nightwing’s fears as a superhero, balanced out against Red Robin’s quirky love of video games and unconventional fighting style.

There’s plenty of action in this movie, and it’s kept fast-moving and innovative at all times – baseballs as weapons, World War II planes, fear gas, an Iron-Man-like mech suit, a genuinely spooky attack by Clayface, and a very trippy cyber-battle between Batman and the Joker. There are some slower moments where Batman and his compatriots have to do some detective work, but these fortunately don’t bog down the pace.

The only problem is that Cyborg doesn’t have much superheroing to do in this movie – he mostly just gets infected by the virus, and spends almost all his screen time fighting the good guys. Also, “monster mayhem” is kind of an erroneous description, since there are no monsters here, except maybe Solomon Grundy; this mostly seems to be the title because, well, the beginning takes place on Halloween and some of the villains are a little spooky.

It’s not the deepest or most intricate adventure for the Dark Knight, but Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem is a colorful and action-packed popcorn adventure – and if you enjoy the Joker, Baker’s performance is a must-see.

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