Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts Blu-ray Combo Pack Review: A Forgettable Adventure

Might be best for younger kids who are mainly interested in watching lots of different heroes and villains fighting it out.
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Batman (voiced by Roger Craig Smith) isn’t the only hero in Gotham City. The Flash, Green Arrow, and NIghtwing join forces to back up the Caped Crusader when he finds himself up against the Animilitia, a group of super villains featuring Killer Croc, Cheetah, Man-Bat, and Silverback.

But our heroes are up against more than just this group of animal-themed ne’er-do-wells. There’s also a group of mechanical animals, a wolf, a tiger, and a bat that always seem to thwart their efforts to vanquish the criminals.

After several run-ins with the Animilitia only to have them escape from their grasp, the Dark Knight begins to see a pattern in the crime spree that manifests itself in a circle pattern with the highest building in Gotham at its center point. The man behind this new building is the wealthy Oswald Cobblepot, a new villain who will ultimately reveal himself as The Penguin.

Having seen Cobblepot’s robotic search-and-rescue teams look exactly like the robots that assisted in the crime spree, Batman realizes that this new Gotham resident must be the mastermind. But before he can find the proof he is looking for, part of the city is surrounded in a force field that nobody can pass through. That is when The Penguin reveals his identity and explains his plan to the masses of how he plans to bring down the passing Midas asteroid, which contains vast quantiles of gold in its center, and crash it into Gotham, destroying everything that is not protected by the force field. Once the asteroid and city have been turned into rubble, his robotic animal team will dig through the remains to claim the gold.

Even with this basic synopsis, it’s pretty easy to see that the story is all over the place. The entire film is just a random mashing of different Batman stories and ideas forming into one massively incoherent adventure. The setting appears to be in the future with flying cars and futuristic technology, and Robin has grown up to become Nightwing, yet one of the greatest villains Batman has ever faced isn’t even known to him in this timeline. The Penguin's idea of bringing an asteroid down upon himself with just a force field for protection is absurd and so are several of his other decisions. His robotic creations that are super strong can suddenly take out dozens of their own kind with nearly a scratch is also puzzling.

But it’s not just the storyline that is silly. A lot of the animation is as well. It has a very cheesy look to it to begin with, but Batman running around in black spandex with a red bat insignia across his crotch, looking like a G-string, and the horribly named Red Robin (voiced by Yuri Lowenthal) , whose name sounds like a restaurant chain and whose outfit is really Marvel Comics’ Iron Fist but only in red, just adds to the confusion.

The Blu-ray combo pack includes the Blu-ray, the DVD, and a Digital HD downloadable copy with Ultraviolet as well. It also comes with an exclusive fire bat toy that is compatible with the Batman Unlimited toy line but has no connection to the film.

The film is presented in 1080p High Definition with a 16x9 1.78:1 ratio and a DTS-HD 5.1 Digital Dolby audio track. The video is crisp and bright with a nice clear audio but neither is used to the fullest potential.

There are three special features included.

“PENGUIN: High Society Criminal Featurette” is a behind-the-scenes look at the character of the Penguin. The majority of it is spent on how the character looks through various incarnations and what motivates him to become the criminal he is. The featurette is directed at an audience that has never heard of the Penguin and has barely any mention of the film it accompanies.

“DC Nation Shorts” is a collection of animated shorts that aired during the commercial breaks of Cartoon Network's DC Nation programming block from several seasons ago.

“From the DC Comic Vault” comes two episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “Super-Batman of Planet X!” and “Gorillas in Our Midst”.

Overall, the feature film might be best for younger kids who haven’t developed a strong desire for good storytelling and are mainly interested in watching lots of different heroes and villains fighting it out. There is plenty of action and there are a number of comical aspects that will appeal to the younger audience.  As for adults, it might be better to try some of the other animated Batman films instead of this one.

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