SYNOPSIS: Gotham City is terrorized not only by recent escapees The Joker and The Penguin, but by the original creature of the night, Dracula! Can The Batman stop the Prince of Darkness before he turns everyone in the city, including The Caped Crusader, Joker and Penguin, into his mindless minions.

When THE BATMAN debuted on TV not long ago (on The WB network), it was met with a mixed response among fans — they either seemed to love it, like it, or hate it. This was much different than The Batman’s previous animated incarnation — the Dini/Timm/Burnett Batman animated series of the 90s (which actually had two different runs). That series was considered to be the best adaptation of The Batman ever — live-action or animated.

Personally, I fall into the “like” category when it comes to the new THE BATMAN series. In my opinion, it is a respectful and fairly accurate depiction of the Batman character.

I’ll certainly give the creative team behind THE BATMAN props for one thing: it’s fresh. And I like the fact that they call him “The Batman.”

It would have been easy to simply make the show the “Year One” or “Year Two” version of the previous animated Batman. And that they did not. The Batman of THE BATMAN is a new Batman. Confusing? Probably. But I think you all get what I’m saying.

Anyway, I’m here today with a quick review of the first full-length animated movie featuring the new animated Bat called THE BATMAN VS. DRACULA.

When I first heard that they were making a movie featuring this new Batman, I was thrilled. Then I found out the title and premise — THE BATMAN VS. DRACULA. Dracula. A vampire. Sucking blood, turning into a bat, coffin, the whole horror nine yards. I like horror movies and I like Dracula. I just didn’t think I’d dig him showing up in Gotham.

When it comes to my own personal taste of the Batman world, I don’t particularly like any inclusion of the supernatural, the macabre, or fantastical villains. But hey, that’s just me. So having The Batman battle Count Dracula didn’t sound like my cup of tea.

But being the Batman fan that I am, I went ahead and bought the DVD soon after it was released.

BATMAN VS. DRACULA has a good premise as well as two of the best literary characters ever created. The Prince of Darkness has been entombed in Gotham for many, many years and is released by accident at the hands of one The Batman’s classic rouge — The Penguin. Cobblepot then becomes sort of a “Renfeld” to Count Dracula.

In no time, citizens start disappearing in Gotham, and become sort of a walking vampire/zombie — fangs, super-strength, thirst for blood, etc. A clever plotline develops as The Batman uses his detective and scientific skills to deal with the “disease” of vampirism.

Batman fans will be happy — I think — to know that The Joker figures heavily into the story. This is both good and bad, as I was happy to see the character — because I dig The Joker — but he does some particularly gross things that were a little much for me.

TBvD finishes up with a nice “battle to the death” between The Dark Knight and The Prince of Darkness. It should be noted that the storyline shows the long historic similarities between the two characters.

Rino Romano, Alastair Duncan, and Peter Stomare stand out for their voice work, as The Batman, Alfred, and Dracula respectively.

Oh, and another big positive: Alfred plays are large role in the movie. That should also make the die-hard Batman fans happy.

There are negatives. The Vicki Vale storyline is almost a carbon copy of the one from 1989’s live-action BATMAN. There’s some dialogue that’ll make you roll your eyes from time to time (Dracula: “I’ll use your cape for a dinner napkin!”). The Batman getting chased by the Gotham PD is a tired storyline (The Batman is blamed for Dracula’s work in Gotham) and a bit cliché’. And The Penguin character — who is important to the plot — is a bit annoying.

Overall, I enjoyed THE BATMAN VS. DRACULA. If you group all the animated Batman movies together, this is one of the better ones. I give it a grade of B- and would tell any Bat-fan to add it to their Bat-DVD collection. – Bill “Jett” Ramey