Synopsis – Batman, with the help of the Flash, Green Arrow, Nightwing, and Red Robin, has to try to get to the bottom of the mysterious robotic animals attacking Gotham.
My Take – Just when you thought Batman was getting a bit too grim for kids, DC has come out with a much more family friendly version reminding you at time the 70s Super friends animated show. Luckily for us, the film strikes that perfect balance between being kid friendly yet still accessible & enjoyable to adults. It’s a sign of relieve as recent animated films from DC were so extra violent (which I don’t mind most of the times) that this toned down version still retains the fun element. DC has become increasingly more successful at gearing their content towards adults. Whether it is the gritty world of live action The Dark Knight or the even grittier CW show Arrow, it has all been for the grown ups. We ask though, what about the children? We forget that our favorite heroes are essentially adults wearing tights who admittedly don’t always have to be so dark. We were all kids at some point and were enamored with these fictional characters at one point or another. The ensemble cast chosen for this film can be considered to be a strange pairing.
For the good guys, you got Batman, Red Robin, Night Wing, Flash, and Green Arrow–who, we’d like to point out, is now referred to as Arrow. Two of those characters aren’t exactly straight from the streets of Gotham. It seems that DC is trying to bring these heroes together in different yet interesting ways, maybe even attempting to match Marvel’s ability to mix it up with no one batting an eye. Another pretty obvious reason to include Flash and Arrow is they both have popular television shows currently airing. Add Batman to the mix and you have DC’s most popular characters at the moment. If there is one thing that the shows have made apparent, it is that crossing into each others worlds is possible and will be occurring more often. It also makes sense that Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen would be at the same social gatherings since we all know they are both DC’s resident rich guys. The story is pretty simple, not great; it gives everyone something to do but don’t expect any sort of epic – when Gotham is plagued by mysterious crimes committed by an animal-themed villain squad composed of Silverback, Cheetah, Killer Croc and Man-Bat. Batman and other heroes including, Red Robin, Nightwing, Green Arrow and The Flash must band together to stop The Penguin from unveiling his evil plans. Like most of these animated films, the story is very much self-contained. The story plays out like a mystery that is simple enough for kids but at the same time still complicated enough that you won’t know the end game until, well the end. Each villain here is a good foil for our heroes, offering enough of a push back to be considered threats and having a cybernetic animal army is most certainly helpful. Backtracking to the kid-friendly and adult-enjoyable, it has plenty of laughs in there as well. It focuses on things that should be funny for all fans of these characters. Topped off by the running joke that Nightwing isn’t too fond of the Flash’s shenanigans.
It is very smart in that way, if the Flash and Nightwing actually met, it realistically shows how the duo would react to each other. They are both roughly the same age in the film but are polar opposites in terms of personality. These small interactions between the cast stay true to the characters, thus creating a fun romp that doesn’t feel forced. There is also a lot of action, with very little violence. Now, that is something hard to accomplish, but necessary when trying to create a family friendly Batman film. Each one of our heroes has a specialty that is used in some way like Flash’s speed or Arrow’s archery skills to complete the task at hand. As he himself will let you know, Batman is Batman, so he is a bad ass, which is really nothing new. We older fans have been spoiled by getting so much content constantly geared toward us, with most of the DC animated films being more mature and serious in nature, so I’m happy to see content being created that embraces the fact there are fans of all ages who deserve content they can watch. These characters are versatile enough for lots of different unique approaches that respect them and provide great storytelling while appealing to different sorts of fans and sensibilities — and if you think Batman just can’t be done exceptionally well in a family friendly way and with more sense of humor, then I suggest you take a gander at Batman: The Brave and the Bold and even the old 1960s live-action TV show. On the whole, ‘Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts’ is fun-filled watch which aims to excite the child inside you yet respecting your adult age! Another flag of success for DC animated films.
Overall Rating: 8.2
Director – Butch Lukic
Starring (voices of) – Chris Diamantopoulos, Roger Craig Smith, Travis Willingham
Rated – PG
Run Time – 87 minutes