It’s Halloween in Gotham, and there’s been a breakout at Arkham Asylum. I think the Gotham news agencies can just go ahead and save that headline for use every Halloween . . . and most every other day, as well. This particular breakout involves Silver Banshee and Solomon Grundy, who immediately take to the streets to wreak . . . yep, you guessed it . . . mayhem. It soon becomes clear, however, that these two have been set free with a purpose in mind, and it comes as little shock (SLIGHT SPOILER, but only if you’ve never seen any kind of Batman anything ever) that someone whose name rhymes with “The Croaker” is orchestrating things from behind the scenes.
Enter a plethora, a cornucopia, a bounty, of heroes and villains. We have Batman, Red Robin, Nightwing, Green Arrow, and Cyborg taking on the aforementioned Grundy and Banshee, along with Scarecrow, Clayface . . . and all attempts at rhyming subterfuge aside, The Joker. This rogues gallery falls on the “campy cartoon” end of the spectrum, with Joker and Grundy in particular chewing up more than their fair share of screen. That being said, the voice work is very solid, and each of the characters are in top form.
At the center of this gladiatorial plot is the talented, young Gogo Shoto, the head of a video game company whose game designs are being targeted by The Joker in a plot to, you guessed it, take over Gotham and the world. We navigate through Ice Cream Truck chases, rampaging dinosaurs, parades (because where there’s a Joker, there’s a parade), and battles in rundown amusement parks (because where there’s a Joker, there’s a rundown amusement park).
The action sequences are brisk and fun, even if too frequently written for laughs. My 8-year-old son suddenly interjected during one particularly choreographed battle scene, “Why do the bad guys just stand there and wait to be hit?! They should attack or defend themselves or something.”
The main strength of Monster Mayhem is found in the world the animation team has created. The artwork has a sleek anime feel to it that is at its best in a sequence involving Batman and The Joker battling inside a Matrix-like environment where literally anything goes. Slightly futuristic and brighter than the typical Gotham environment, the cityscape is richly layered and complex. There’s no sense that any of this detail is sacrificed in action sequences.
I had a great time watching Monster Mayhem with the whole family . . . not just once, but twice. My kid will be watching this one many more times, I’m sure.
My 8-Year-Old Son’s Review:
“My favorite part is inside the video game where The Joker fights a bunch of Batmans. My favorite bad guy is Scarecrow. My favorite good guys are Batman, Green Arrow, and Nightwing.”
The Husband’s Review:
“I liked it. Really liked the animation.”
P.S. A word regarding special features and miscellanea:
• Check out the “Gotham of Tomorrow: Designing a Future World” video; lots of great information about the amazing detail in the animation and world-building.
• Lots of really interesting DC Nation Shorts to watch.
• The soundtrack sounded suspiciously like the theme music for the Avengers movies, which was fairly confusing.
• There are two women in this cast. That’s it. Two.