Batman: Mystery Of The Batwoman (2003)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 2/14/10
Director: Curt Geda
Music: Lolita Ritmanis
Cast: Kevin Conroy, Tara Strong, Bob Hastings, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Robert Constanza, Kimberly Brooks, Kelly Ripa, Kyra Sedgwick, David Ogden Stiers, John Vernon

Here's a fun direct-to-video Batman adventure in the style and spirit of the original "Batman: The Animated Series." A new crime fighter shows up in Gotham City in the form of an athletic woman taking on the visage of Batman. However, she's extremely violent and has little regard for human safety, which causes Batman some concern. Meanwhile, Rupert Thorne (John Vernon) and The Penguin (David Ogden Stiers) are working together to manufacture and sell illegal arms, and Batwoman (Kyra Sedgwick) is causing them so much trouble that they call in Bane for assistance. Eventually, Batman cracks down on Batwoman and takes care of all the bad guys. And since this is the fantasy world of super heroes, Batwoman manages to escape prosecution and incarceration for her terrorist crimes and collateral damage.

While it has the nostalgic look of the old animated series, the film suffers from pacing issues and some questionable plot elements. Most notably, the mention of Barbara Gordon (Tara Strong) having a crush on Bruce Wayne. Where the hell did THAT come from? And then it's immediately tossed aside and never mentioned again. There's also an awkward and unnecessary musical number thrown in, which is annoying and makes no sense. It comes across a little too "Josie And The Pussycats" for me. Another sore spot is that not all of the original voice actors were able to reprise their roles. Paul Williams as The Penguin and Henry Silva's Bane are sorely missed, and this would be the last time John Vernon would voice crime lord Rupert Thorne. That's not to say that the voice acting is bad - it's just different and unfamiliar. Animation wise, the film certainly looks good and has several exciting action sequences. Batwoman's fight scenes are graceful and energetic, taking advantage of her female frame. The music is good, but quite a departure from Shirley Walker's classic score. Lolita Ritmanis provides some lighter compositions as well as some atmospheric jazz numbers that change the personality of Gotham a bit. Again, it's not bad, just different and unexpected. Overall, "Mystery Of The Batwoman" is an excellent way to get a nostalgic Batman fix, and offers a nice collection of ass-kicking women to enjoy.