Review: Batman Unlimited: Mechs vs. Mutants

Batman fights a Godzilla-sized Killer Croc… in a giant Batman-themed mech suit.

If your head did not just explode from the sheer awesomeness of that idea, then I am sorry, my friend – there is just no help for you. Batman Unlimited: Mechs vs. Mutants, the third and final film in the Batman Unlimited series, proves that they saved the best for last. The script is tighter and cleverer than in the previous movies, and the action gets literally supersized in Pacific-Rim-style brawls.

After several months in exile in Antarctica, the Penguin (Dana Snyder) convinces his antisocial roommate Mr. Freeze (Oded Fehr) to return them to Gotham in over to take it over. Their plan: break into Arkham Asylum to free Bane (Carlos Alazraqui), Killer Croc (John DiMaggio), Clayface (Dave B. Mitchell) and Chemo, then combine the essences of three of them into a super-growth potion that will make Killer Croc and Chemo into kaiju-sized monsters. In case you’re wondering why they would want to do that, Killer Croc has somehow gained the ability to spew ice, which causes a small ice age to fall over Gotham.

Batman (Roger Craig Smith) immediately takes on these foes alongside his newest Robin Damien (Lucien Dodge), Nightwing (Will Friedle), Green Arrow (Chris Diamantopoulos) and the Flash (Charlie Schlatter). However, things quickly spiral out of control when Penguin betrays Freeze, and causes Clayface and Bane to also grow to gargantuan proportions. So there’s only one thing that the Caped Crusader can do: run back to Wayne Enterprises and get the building-sized, fully-functional battle mech suit that can punch out these giant monsters. Green Arrow has one too.

I may be slightly biased in the favor of Batman Unlimited: Mechs vs. Mutants, because I happen to think that Pacific Rim is a modern masterpiece. Mecha punching giant monsters makes me happy. What can I say? And there’s definitely a similar vibe to this film, with an emphasis on giant monstrous supervillains being repeatedly punched through buildings by Batman and Green Arrow’s giant mechanical fists. Also, toxic chemicals, snow and lava are spraying everywhere, so it’s not just punching.

It’s also probably the most complicated of the Batman Unlimited movies – in addition to the four kaiju-sized supervillains, there are also two main villains who are planning to betray each other. It’s abundantly clear that Freeze and Penguin aren’t going to be friendly for long, which further complicates a tale that already had plenty of stuff going on. There are some things that are a little zany (a penguin operating lab machinery), but they oddly seem to fit the over-the-top tone of the film.

The voice actors all do pretty good jobs, including Oded Fehr’s turn as the antisocial, perpetually-frustrated Mr. Freeze. The movie also works in a subplot for Damien, who is upset and feeling inadequate because he humiliated himself during a fight with the Joker. He doesn’t really resemble the arrogant brat from the comics… at all… but he is a fairly likable Robin.

And in addition, to the villains who actually do stuff in the movie, there are also some cameos by characters such as Cheetah, Mad Hatter, Hush, Two-Face, and most notably Troy Baker’s Joker, who is there just to be cranky because Penguin isn’t including him in the plan. Admittedly, it would be wonderful to see a kaiju-sized Joker rampaging through Gotham, but it never happens.

Also, there’s a henchpenguin named Buzz, who is hands-down the best character in the movie.

Batman Unlimited: Monsters vs. Mechs gives us exactly what the title suggests – if the thought of Batman piloting a Jaeger-style mech gives you a thrill, then this little animated movie might just be your speed. At the very least, it’s a fun way for the kids to spend an hour or so.

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.