Sunday, 23 February 2014

DVD Review - Gotham City Serials

Gotham City Serials
The Complete 1940s Movie Serial Collection
Starring: Lewis Wilson, Douglas Croft, J. Carol Naish, Robert Lowery, John Duncan, Lyle Talbot, Jane Adams
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Retail: $9.98
Running Time: 8 hours 44 minutes
Rating: Not Rated


DC Comics fans are patiently awaiting for the yet untitled Man of Steel 2 or otherwise known as Batman VS. Superman to be released in 2015 or 2016. Until then, they can sink their teeth in Mill Creek Entertainments recently released 2-disc set, Gotham City Serials: The Complete 1940s Movie Serial Collection.

Most people think Adam West was the first actor to wear the cape crusader outfit, but it was actually Lewis Wilson who first appeared as Batman on screen along with Douglas Croft as Robin in fifteen-part serial Batman in 1943, later retitled An Evening With Batman and Robin. In this tale set during WWII, it contained anti-German and anti-Japanese slurs, which would be called politically incorrect today. The plot involves a Japanese scientist, Dr. Daka, who has created a device that will turn people into pseudo-zombies, and, of course, it is up to Batman and Robin to stop him.

The fifteen-chapter serial (250 minutes total) are:
  1. The Electrical Brain
  2. The Bat's Cave
  3. The Mark of the Zombies
  4. Slaves of the Rising Sun
  5. The Living Corpse
  6. Poison Peril
  7. The Phoney Doctor
  8. Lured by Radium
  9. The Sign of the Sphinx
  10. Flying Spies
  11. A Nipponese Trap
  12. Embers of Evil
  13. Eight Steps Down
  14. The Executioner Strikes
  15. The Doom of the Rising Sun
The success of Batman lead to a sequel a fifteen-part sequel titled Batman and Robin in 1949, but this time Robert Lowery played the caped crusader with Johnny Duncan as Robin. This time the crime fighting duo take on a crazed-hooded villain called the Wizard, who has a device that can control cars and other electrical devices.

The fifteen-chapter serial (264 minutes total) are:
  1. Batman Takes Over
  2. Tunnel of Terror
  3. Robin's Wild Ride
  4. Batman Trapped
  5. Robin Rescues Batman
  6. Target - Robin!
  7. The Fatal Blast
  8. Robin Meets the Wizard
  9. The Wizard Strikes Back
  10. Batman's Last Chance
  11. Robin's Ruse
  12. Robin Rides the Wind
  13. The Wizard's Challenge
  14. Batman vs. Wizard
  15. Batman Victorious
Both serials were previously released back when Batman Begins was at theaters, but have now gone print; therefore, Mill Creek Entertainment has released the serials on a two-disc set, but you would think it would have been better to wait for the new Batman VS. Superman movie was in theaters to tie-in with the release. The serials are low-budget with horrible costumes, sets and acting. Each chapter ends with a cliffhanger, except for the last the chapter. The serials are the inspiration for the Adam West/Burt Ward's version in the 60s. I'm not for sure if the serials haven't been restored or if shoving over four hours on each disc has reduced the picture quality, but the serials don't have a perfect picture, though they are watchable. Overall, the Gotham City Serials are meant for the die-hard Batman fans. The serials are fun to watch, but also laughable.

*Disclaimer - I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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