Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman was the third and final straight-to-DVD animated film put out by Warner Bros. Animation following the cancellation of Batman: The Animated Series (Mask of the Phantasm doesn’t fit into this group as it was made a decade earlier and saw a limited theatrical release). The movie keeps the Bruce Timm style of the series as well as most of the show’s regular voice cast including Kevin Conroy returning as the voice of Batman.
The show returns familiar villains the Penguin (David Ogden Stiers) and Rupert Thorne (John Vernon) as well as introducing mid-level gangster Carlton Duquesne (Kevin Michael Richardson) and his impetuous daughter Kathy (Kimberly Brooks), who acts as Bruce Wayne’s love interest for the movie. The movie also introduces a new version of Batwoman (Kyra Sedgwick) who uses lethal force to stop Penguin and Thorne’s illegal arm sales leading her into confrontation with Batman.
Although Kathy soon becomes Batman’s #1 suspect as the true identity of Gotham’s new deadly vigilante, two other women new to Gotham are also possibilities: Dr. Rocky Ballantine (Kelly Ripa), who is responsible for the tech used by Batwoman and has a personal axe to grind against the Penguin, and Detective Bullock‘s (Robert Costanzo) new partner Sonya Alcana (Elisa Gabrielli), whose family have their own sordid history with Thorne.
The movie has a fair, though hardly surprising, twist in revealing the true identity of Batwoman as well as a climactic final sequence involving Batman, Batwoman, and Bane (Hector Elizondo). Although it certainly doesn’t rank as one of the best straight-to-DVD animated features from Warner Bros. (Justice League: The New Frontier, Batman: Under the Red Hood), it’s always fun to see Timm’s version of the DCU in action and hear Conroy as Batman again. Both Tara Strong and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. also reprise their roles as Batgirl and Alfred in small roles.
The Blu-ray includes approximately 45 minutes of extras previously released on DVD versions of the film including the Batman/Catwoman short film “Chase Me,” behind-the-scenes featurettes on the making of the movie, an interview with director Curt Geda, and character bios and gadget galleries for several of the characters and Bat-gadgets used in the film.
[Warner Home Video, Blu-ray $14.98]