Review Of Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts


Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts is the first in a whole new series of kid-friendly Batman movies and shorts. But beyond being kid-friendly, these movies and shorts are really designed with one purpose in mind, to sell toys. I know, the cynic you says everything is meant to sell toys, but with most good animated fare, it’s not strictly based around the idea of selling toys. There is an actual story to be told, and it takes precedence. Just because something is made primarily to sell toys doesn’t mean it has to be hot garbage. So, does Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts rise above it’s admittedly shallow goals to create a quality movie?

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Probably the first thing you’ll notice about Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts is that it takes place in the future. Flying cars, police in giant robot suits, etc. In fact, it pretty much looks like Gotham from the era of Batman Beyond. But Batman is still Bruce Wayne. This might be a little odd for Batman Beyond fans since in fact Will Friedle, who played Terry McGinnis/Batman in Batman Beyond plays Nightwing in Batman Unlimited Animal Instincts.

But nothing’s wrong with playing around with the traditional Batman setting. That being said, Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts does fail where most properties that are merely meant to sell toys do. With a silly plot (even for a kid-friendly TV show) and just lots of inconsistencies that even a 6-year-old might be bothered by. And I’m not talking about things like characters you wouldn’t normally see in Gotham like Flash, Green Arrow or Cheetah showing up. I always like the idea that superheroes and villains can just show up because they inhabit the same universe, so that works fine. A good example of this is Killer Croc. He’s there the entire movie, and inexplicably gets stronger with every scene. At the very beginning of the movie, he’s no match for Nightwing, but later on he’s completely unfazed by Flash punching him repeatedly at super speed.

Then Penguin’s master plan in Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts is ridiculously complicated and makes no sense (he wants to aim a giant meteor at Gotham because people were mean to him. Also money, even though in this he’s as rich as Bruce Wayne). Like it’s the kind of dumb plot Dr. Drakken from Kim Possible would come up with and it would be repeatedly pointed out to him that’s it’s stupid and needlessly complicated and then he’d do it anyways because he’s an idiot. Granted, if this was played for jokes, that’d be one thing, but it’s treated as completely serious. There are also several scenes in Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts clearly meant just to sell toys, because it’s something that shows up for one scene, is used for that one scene, than completely thrown away (like a different Batsuit).

Granted, little kids may not care about this. They just may want to see Batman & friends in action against animal-themed villains and want to get toys of the same thing. I’m sure that’s the only goal with Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts. So in that, they’ve succeeded. But we know animation can be way better. If you want something kid friendly that isn’t just meant to empty your wallets, try Batman: Brave & The Bold instead.

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