Batman: Return of the Caped Crusader (2016)

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusader (2016), directed by Rick Morales, written by Michael Jelenic and James Tucker, based on the 1966 TV-series created by William Dozier and Lorezon Semple Jr., Batman was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, starring Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar

Before his death in 2017, Adam West managed to make a return to the role that made him famous all the way back in the 1960's, Batman. Not in a live action or a spoof, but in two animated movies that were not only a spiritual continuation to the campy TV-series, but an actual continuation to them, in style, humour and even in some actors, like West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar.

Return of the Caped Crusader was the first of the two Adam West managed to portray the role of Batman and Bruce Wayne before his passing. Sure enough, he was already in his mid 80's when he did the role, and it is audible in his voice, just like it's audible in Burt Ward's and Julie Newmar's as well, that none of them is young anymore. At times this does clash a bit, as we see Batman as a strapping man in his mid 30's and Robin as an underaged schoolboy, not to mention the Catwoman, who is drawn as sexy as Newmar was in the series, but all of their voices do sound old. There's a mismatch with the visual and sound, but then again, this is the campy era Batman, so that is easily forgiven, I think.

 Bruce and Dick are at the Wayne mansion, watching TV as a reward for a practice well done when a disaster strikes at the popular entertainment show when the foursome of crooked crooks, Joker, Penguin, the Riddler and Catwoman, reveal themselves as the band that was supposed the playing a concert there.  Before the cops get there, they run away, but leave a clue of their future caper.

The always useless Gotham PD calls the dynamic duo to the rescue to figure out what is going to happen and soon the fearless crimefighter duo is on the case that drives usually righteous Batman to a path of crime after Catwoman tries to seduce him with a potion she has concocted.

Batman turning bad is a pretty interesting story contrast next to all the campy silliness that is going on in the movie. If you are at all familiar with Adam West Batman-series, you already know all about all things named "Bat-something" as well as the good-hearted, law-abiding citizen of Gotham, the bumbling police force and the crooked villains next to whom Batman comes out almost like a superhuman authority figure. Then suddenly West's Batman starts turning darker, grimmer, like something from the later, more psychologically ambiguous Batman. This is as close as it's going to get to a Batman who actually likes damaging the villains, at least as far Batman 66 goes.

All this is, of course, overplayed to the point where Batman begins to make copies of himself in order to take over Gotham, placing himself as the commissioner, the judge as well as the mayor of Gotham, not to mention all the other roles, including a local master chef, as "cooking is as much of a science as it is art and Gotham deserves a chef who understands that" (That's not a direct quote, mind you, but that was the gist of it.).

What also requires a mention of its own, is the fantastic, swinging soundtrack that utilizes the old -66 soundtrack as well as creating some new tunes to the adventures of the caped crusader and the boy wonder. They aren't trying to re-invent the wheel with the soundtrack and stay within the barriers what you might expect the 1960's could have produced for a movie like this is and in that they did a fantastic job.

What does leave room for imporvement is the animation quality. At times, the animation is very good, blending in traditional and 3D very seamlessly, but the overall there is a quality of stiffness about it, visible in many places.  It didn't stop me from enjoying the movie, but it didn't stop me hoping the animation was a tad better.

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusader is not quite the slamdunk it could have been. While it does have its own share of delicious campy idiocy, like a bat-space rocket, where Batman is wearing a spacesuit with little ears, it does feel a bit too long for what it is. The length of it is 78 minutes, which is roughly 3 episodes of the old series, which I feel was a tad too long, as the joke does wear thin after a while. But as such, it also is a delightful reminder that Batman has been a lot of thing different during its existence, on of which was the campy series, where nothing was taken too seriously and sexual innuendo was anything but well hidden.

And despite the old cast does sound their age, it was a nice little treat to hear Adam West in his most iconic role again.