DVD REVIEW

Review: BATMAN GOTHAM KNIGHT
Author: Jett
Friday, July 4, 2008

SYNOPSIS: From producers of BATMAN BEGINS and THE DARK KNIGHT comes six spellbinding chapters chronicling Batman's transition from novice crimefighter to The Dark Knight. These globe-spanning adventures pit Batman against the fearsome Scarecrow, the freakish Killer Croc and the unerring marksman Deadshot. From some of the world's most visionary animators comes a thrilling depiction of Batman as man, myth and legend.

RELEASE DATE: July 8, 2008

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There have been many animated incarnations of Batman over the years. From the late 1960s and on through the 70s and 80s, just about everyone of them have, well, sucked. None of the folks behind any of these various projects -- be it the producers, the networks, and even the “creative talent” -- seemed to have a damn clue about what The Batman “Is.”

Heck, I was a kid in the 70s and watched SUPER FRIENDS religiously every Saturday morning. But even then I knew that wasn’t “The Batman” that I was reading in the comics nor the one that had already manifested itself in my head.

Then of course came the 1990s and the classic BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES and all of its various incarnations. Now all of those individuals involved -- Paul Dini, Alan Burnett, Bruce Timm, et al -- they “got” Batman.

Then there was the recent Saturday morning series titled very appropriately THE BATMAN. And despite the fact that it was clearly aimed at a younger audience, it still was very loyal to and respectful of the Batman mythos.

But ladies and gentlemen, the absolute best animated adaptation of this great character that I’ve seen to date is this new movie, BATMAN GOTHAM KNIGHT.

Now I’m sure you all know the deal with BGT, right? It’s a animated movie divided into six separate, yet connected, episodes. Each episode has a different creative team with the actual director and animation done “Anime Style.”

To be perfectly honest, I’m not a big fan of anime and I was a tad concerned and apprehensive when I heard that his project was going to be done in that manner. However, all my fears were laid to rest when I first saw this film a few months back. Y’all, it is visually OUTSTANDING. By FAR the best animation I’ve ever seen involving Batman, as well as the two previous DC Universe animated films (SUPERMAN DOOMSDAY and JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER). Each episode is aesthetically stunning. Much props to all those involved.

I’ll get to the writing and stories in just a bit, but I must preface addressing that by saying that this film is set in the “Batman World” found in the live-action films BATMAN BEGINS and THE DARK KNIGHT.

For those of you like me (and most Batman fans to be frank), I’m betting you are totally down with that and you will not be disappointed in the least. The “Real World Batman” as established by Christopher Nolan, David Goyer, and others is very much the foundation of each episode of BGK.

On the other hand, those who prefer a little more of the fantastical in your Batman stories are not going to be disappointed either, as Man-Bat and Killer Croc appear in this film. Now, they definitely are “Nolanized” -- especially the latter -- but you Bat-fans of that persuasion should not be disappointed.

I must admit that this version of Killer Croc did show me that that some of Batman’s more, well, “unrealistic” villains can work in a live-action film. SOME of them -- let’s don’t get carried away here, OK?

Speaking of villains, here are the members of Batman’s rogues gallery you’ll find in addition to the duo previously mentioned: Deadshot, Firefly, The Scarecrow, and the infamous maker of Two Face (in the comics at least), Sal Maroni.

No Joker (Duh!), Two Face (Duh AGAIN!), Penguin, or Catwoman to be found. I figure they’re saving those latter two for future live-action endeavors. *wink*

In regards to the individual stories, all of the writers involved did a top-notch job. I’m not going to rehash each and every episode, but I will point out a couple that I really liked.

The one featuring Deadshot -- titled, uh, “Deadshot” -- was very good. Another one that I was particularly fond of, “Crossfire,” was very well done and shows The Batman at his absolute badass best. I also dug “In Darkness Dwells” that featured The Scarecrow. But my favorite by far was the very first episode titled “Have I Got A Story For You.”

The jest of this one is four young Gothamites discussing The Batman and what he actually “Is.” It was based on one of my favorite comic book stories of the 70s and frankly does an even better job than its comic book counterpart.

My only complaint is that Kevin Conroy voiced Batman in BGK. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Mr. Conroy’s work on BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. But couldn’t they have got someone *cough* Christian Bale *cough* who would have been more in line with The Batman of BATMAN BEGINS and THE DARK KNIGHT? Conroy is so associated with the “Animated DC Universe” Batman, that I believe that they should have tried to distance themselves from it in BGK.

All in all, good stories and great animation make for an animated Batman -- a PG-13 animated Batman to boot -- that both fans and non-fans will enjoy.

JETT'S GRADE: B+

DVD Features:

* Audio commentary

* Sneak peak of DCU’s upcoming WONDER WOMAN

* “A Mirror for the Bat: The Evil Denizens of Gotham City” (A stimulating documentary covering Gotham City’s most nefarious of characters, combined with a look into the symbiotic relationship Batman shares with his enemies.)

* “Batman and Me a Devotion to Destiny: The Bob Kane Story”

* "Bruce Timm Presents" - 4 Bonus Episodes from “Batman the Animated Series”

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Material from BOF may not be reprinted without permission.
"BATMAN" artwork © DC COMICS.