Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (2003) / Animation-Action

MPAA Rated: PG for violence
Running Time: 75 min.

Cast (voices): Kevin Conroy, Kyra Sedgwick, Kelly Ripa, Kimberly Brooks, David Ogden Stiers, Elisa Gabrielli, Kevin Michael Richardson, Hector Elizondo, John Vernon, Eli Marienthal, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Bob Hastings
Curt Geda, Tim Maltby
Screenplay: Michael Reaves
Review published March 10, 2004

Fans of the films based on "Batman: The Animated Series" will tell you that, film for film, the cartoon Batman feature-length movies are better than the highly popular big-screen counterparts.  They would also tell you that these animated adventures are far closer to the true spirit of the comic book origins as well, and not just because they are drawn.  It's hard to argue when you look at the creators behind them, written and directed by veterans in the various Batman television series, who all know these characters inside and out.  Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman continues the tradition of solid quality, providing far more intelligence and entertainment value than the Joel Schumacher Batman films, with only a small fraction of their budgets.

In B:MotB, we are introduced to a new would-be caped crusader in Gotham City, looking and acting just like the real Batman, except for being a woman, and one who is far more destructive in her pursuits.  Batman certainly hasn't sanctioned her actions, in fact, he doesn't even know who she is.  She seems to be concentrating her interests into the affairs of The Penguin, while Batman keeps a watchful eye to see who she is and what's behind her vigilante creations.

Mystery of the Batwoman continues the look and feel of the animated series, giving a clean, classic appearance to the characters that is pleasing to the eye.  The voice-work is top-notch, with Kevin Conroy delivering the right timber for the macho crime-fighter, and Kyra Sedgwick (Phenomenon, Singles) providing the voice of Batwoman. 

Since it's a mystery, you'll have to choose among three newly introduced female characters to determine Batwoman's true identity.  If you're thinking it will be easy because you can just listen to see which sounds like Sedgwick, you'll be in for a challenge, as the creators have wisely chosen three women who don't sound too far off.  If you're a big fan of classic mysteries, you may not be too surprised to learn the true identity, but for novices, it's definitely well-crafted enough to keep you guessing.  (HELPFUL HINT: do NOT look at the IMDb website's credits for this movie until after viewing, or it may spoil the surprise).

It's all in there, action, adventure, romance, and plenty of comic mischief, just like any good Batman tale should have.  Watching Mystery of the Batwoman does require basic knowledge of the Batman mythos to understand fully, so it's best to be intimately familiar with the characters if you are going to attempt it.  However, for staunch fans, especially for those who love the animated television series, this makes for an entertaining diversion.  Hollywood might still have a hard time getting its head out of its rear-end when it comes to ideas for live action big screen productions, but at least there are good alternatives for the fans that need a Bat-fix in the interim.

Qwipster's rating:

2004 Vince Leo