Batman: Gotham Knight is a fresh and exciting new entry into the Batman mythos, spinning out of a 40-year history in animation including the Emmy®-winning Batman: The Animated Series, widely considered a pivotal moment in American animation. A cross section of distinguished creators, award winning producers, and acclaimed writers weave six interlocking stories that reveal Bruce Wayne’s journey to Dark Knight, each with stylish art from some of the world’s most revered animation visionaries.
Read my review of the two-disc DVD after the jump.
Batman: Gotham Knight
Official Site Link: www.batmangothamknight.com
This is only my second endeavor into the DC Animated Original Movies, having seen Justice League: The New Frontier a few months back. The first thing that must be noted is that this is a stronger installment than Justice League. Batman: Gotham Knight is a series of six stories, each exploring a different angle of Batman/Bruce Wayne. The six stories are: 1) “Have I Got a Story For You”, 2) “Crossfire”, 3) “Field Test”, 4) “In Darkness Dwells”, 5) “Working Through Pain” and 6) “Deadshot”. It’s an interesting approach that thankfully works really well. Each segment is designed to work twofold: on its own, and as part of the entire piece. Only one segment, I felt, was somewhat out of place and that was the first one. The movie opens with a group of teens gathered around a skate park sharing their own Batman stories in “Have I Got a Story For You”. The point of the piece is to set up the movie, showing that Batman can be seen in a different way, by different people. I understand the reasoning behind it, but the extreme differences between the various viewpoints (a Ghost Batman and a Robo Batman for instance) doesn’t quite work. I think that segement would have worked better had the Batmans of the various kids all looked the same especially since it ends with the actual Batman showing up to fight the villain.
My favorite segment is #5 – “Working Through Pain” , a sort of back-story of Batman. I liked it because we get some additional background of Bruce Wayne becoming Batman. If there is one thing that hasn’t fully and effectively been explored in the various Batman projects (at least the ones I’ve seen), it’s how Bruce Wayne transformed himself into Batman. It’s one of my favorite aspects of Batman Begins, and because of that this segment easily connects to the movie. We get more of that background, showcasing how Bruce Wayne has gone all over the world learning new techniques to hone his skills.
In terms of visuals, Batman: Gotham Knight is beautifully animated. The imagery is gorgeous. From the varied and detailed landscapes, to the characters faces and costumes. You get a real sense that there is a varied angle to every segment, allowing each piece to stick out on its own. The soundtrack is integrated effectively throughout as there’s never a moment where it seems too overpowering, or out of place A nice balance. I also liked the fact that though the appearances of Batman, and some of the characters changes throughout, the voice acting is done by the same actors (this was pointed out in the commentary, if it’s not immediately noticeable).
With the movie being released the same day as Batman Begins, and just under two weeks before The Dark Knight, some are sure to question whether you need to see this film before watching The Dark Knight, or even Batman Begins. The answer is no. However, because the movie shares the producing team of the two movies, it doesn’t feel too foreign, and you can tell that it was created to go along with the movies. You certainly feel a sense of seriousness and tone that is shared with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
Moving on to the special features, Warner Brothers has released the film in three different varieties: DVD, 2 Disc Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray Hi-Def. The 2 Disc and Blu-ray version’s share the same special features. The Blu-ray contains all the special features on one disc, while the DVD 2 disc has the movie on Disc 1 a commentary track and some trailers/clips. Disc two contains more robust special features, with a documentary, a featurette and a selection of various Batman: The Animated Series episodes.
The commentary track is a must-listen. The track contains DC Comics Senior Vice President/Creative Affairs Gregory Noveck, former Batman Editor Dennis O’Neil and the voice of Batman, Kevin Conroy. It’s a very informative track that really enhances the appeal of the film. There’s a good amount of detail and explanation between the three commentators and the anecdotes presented are entertaining. Also, thankfully, there is nearly no dead air. The track gives you a better understanding of “Gotham Knight”, and that’s exactly what a commentary track should do: be entertaining and informative. They succeed in both rights with this track.
Exclusive Sneak Peak at DC Universe’s Wonder Woman
A 10-minute look at DC’s next animated DVD film Wonder Woman. The feature focuses on how the character came about, its mythology and its origin. A good primer for those who are unfamiliar with the character and comics of Wonder Woman and it also has some storyboards throughout the feature.
The Dark Knight “Coming to Theaters”
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Popeye The Sailor 1938-1940 – Vol. 2
A Mirror for the Bat: Featurette Exploring Batman and the Evil Denizens of Gotham City
This feature focuses on the many well-known, and not so well-known, villains of Batman and helps those viewers who might not be aware of the countless bad guys (and bad girls). I know it waked me up to the incredibly varied assortment of villains that the producers and writers have at their disposal. Some are characters you couldn’t picture in a live-action setting, but all are very believable in their animated setting, and could certainly be adapted into any upcoming live-action movie (and of course, many have, to varying degrees of success). The large amount of contributers to the feature is welcomed, allowing for many different viewpoints to be expressed in the role villains, in general, play in the Batman universe.
Revealing Documentary Batman and Me: The Bob Kane Story
For someone not storied in the history of Bob Kane, the creator of Batman, this documentary gives you a good refresher on him. Again, like the featurette, there’s a good assortment of commentators, including his widow and even Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee.
Bruce Timm Presents 4 Bonus Batman The Animated Series Episodes
For anyone interested in continuing their adventure into the Batman animated series, Warner Brothers has included four animatd episodes on the disc. They are: “Heart of Ice”, “I Am the Night”, “Legends of the Dark Knight” and “Over the Edge”.
Due to its various parts, Batman: Gotham Knight is a hard movie to rate. Overall it’s an entertaining and well put together piece. It could have easily been hard to follow, what with the multiple segments, but it flows together nicely. Its run time of just 76 minutes moves quickly and it’s apparent that the multiple segments helps keep “filler” out of the movie, which is always welcomed. If you’re a fan of Batman, there’s no question that you should pick it up. But even if you’re not there’s a strong enough story and good supplement package to warrent the purchase.
Overall I rate this movie and DVD a 4/5.
Batman: Gotham Knight hits store shelves on Tuesday, July 8th. Click here to purchase it.
All prior coverage of this movie follows below, including a picture gallery and some clips.
A short clip from the film’s fourth segment “In Darkness Dwells”, written by David Goyer. [1:31]
PHOTOS (click to enlarge)
Batman prepares to battle Deadshot atop a commuter train.
Batman prepares to battle Deadshot atop a commuter train. Batman and his wonderful toys–the Dark Knight pursues the villainous Deadshot during a race across Gotham City.
Bruce Wayne examines a gun for a moment prior to his confrontation to Deadshot.
Deadshot readies to fire on Batman during their battle inside a subway tunnel.
Deadshot–sans body armor–discusses business over a martini.
Trapped in the sewers beneath Gotham, a wounded Batman sees the light of the city above.
A young Bruce Wayne travels to India to learn the ancient techniques of dealing with pain.
Bruce Wayne is awakened in the middle of the night.
Young Bruce Wayne stands tall in the crowd during journey through India.
Local hoodlums challenge the notion of an outsider — Bruce Wayne –being taught ancient techniques.
Bruce Wayne practices meditation under the tutelage of the beautiful, mysterious Cassandra.
Batman in the final segment: “Deadshot”.
Batman from the third segment in the film: “Field Test”.
Bruce Wayne in the third segment of the film: “Working Through Pain”.
Batman slowly emerges from the flames, approaching a villainous Russian mobster and his hostage, detective Ramirez?
Batman dispenses a big of physical violence on one of the mob bearing down on detectives Allen and Ramirez.
The frightening faces of some of the inmates at Arkham Asylum.
Detective Crispus Allen (left) discusses his distrust of Batman with Lieutenant Gordon as a flock of bats passes the windows.
As always, click to enlarge.
The villain emerges during the opening “Have I Got a Story For You” segment of “Batman Gotham Knight.”
Batman stands above a dazzling anima-style version of Gotham City during the second segment of “Batman Gotham Knight” entitled “Crossfire.”
The Wayne Building gets a slightly different look during the third segment of “Batman Gotham Knight” entitled “Field Test.”
Lieutenant Gordon and his detectives enter a suspicious church, and find Batman already in action, in “In Darkness Dwells,” the fourth segment of “Batman Gotham Knight.”
Gotham City gets a dazzling makeover for “Deadshot,” the sixth segment of “Batman Gotham Knight.”
An amusement park ferris wheel and accompanying fireworks provide an perfect cover and a fascinating juxtaposition for a long-distance assassination in “Deadshot,” the sixth segment of “Batman Gotham Knight.”
Our hero literally emerges from the shadows in his first unique appearance with Josh Olson’s opening segment of “Batman Gotham Knight.”
Batman takes a more cartoony appearance in the final moments of Josh Olson’s opening segment of “Batman Gotham Knight.”
The Dark Knight is revealed as more bat than man during a child’sdescription of the character in Josh Olson’s segment of “Batman Gotham Knight.”
A seemingly robotic Batman arrives to foil the villain in Josh Olson’sfilm-opening segment of “Batman Gotham Knight.”
A shot of Deadshot from the last segment of “Batman Gotham Knight.”
Batman running atop a moving train in segment four: “Deadshot”.
Batman under the bat signal in segment four written by David Goyer: In Darkness Dwells”.
Trademark information for the images:
“Batman Gotham Knight” (c) Warner Bros. Ent Inc.
“Batman” and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and
(c) DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.