Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Batman: Year One REVIEWED!

    Let's start with the biggest extra feature on the disc, the DC Showcase: Catwoman short, the short films included on these discs are just as good if not better than some of the features. In this case, geek goddess Eliza Dushku voices Catwoman.
In just the second scene of the short here, the viewer quickly learns that while an animated film, it's definitely not for kids, as the majority of the action in the first half of the short is set in a strip club. While never showing full on nudity, it does show the dancer's top get thrown at the main antagonist, Rough Cut from across the room. The dancer is then shown with her long golden hair covering her breasts the rest of the scene she is in.
   The action quickly shifts to a car chase and then a warehouse on the Gotham docks where we find out that Rough Cut is smuggling more than just diamonds this time around.
This short is basically a carryover from the Year One movie, though having watched the short first I didn't necessarily know that at the onset, though I have read the comic so I did know it at the same time, hopefully that's not confusing to the readers out there in internet land.
   The voice cast is excellent, though there isn't much there outside of Dushku, who played the character in the feature length version as well as in this short.
Moving on to the feature film. Batman: Year One, it was an excellent comic, one of the few I've read in recent years for those that have followed former posts you'll know what I am referring to.
   The film starts off with a voice over from Bruce Wayne, and we quickly learn that the voice actor chosen here, is definitely no Kevin Conroy, the man did such a bad job I'm not even gonna bother typing out his name here, he simply sounds like he is trying to mimic Conroy, though he's not very good at even that. Jim Gordon's voice actor, Bryan Cranston, did an excellent job. Overall this is probably the worst overall voice cast in the DCU line so far. Though that's partially because the rest of the films have all had excellent casts.
Overall this film suffers from being too loyal to the source material. Way to many voice overs and not enough action for a movie of this sort. This type of story telling just doesn't work in this medium. It worked super well for the comic, but it just leaves too much to be desired in the film version.
   The story recounts the beginning of Bruce Wayne's career as Batman and Jim Gordon's with the Gotham City Police Department. Bruce Wayne returns home to Gotham City from training abroad in martial arts, man hunting, and science for the past 12 years, and James Gordon moves to Gotham with his wife, Barbara, after a transfer from Chicago. Both are swiftly acquainted with the corruption and violence of Gotham City, with Gordon witnessing his partner Detective Flass assaulting a teen for fun.
   On a surveillance mission to the seedy East End, a disguised Bruce is propositioned by teenaged prostitute Holly Robinson. He is reluctantly drawn into a brawl with her violent pimp and is attacked by several prostitutes, including dominatrix Selina Kyle. Two police officers shoot and take him in their squad car, but a dazed and bleeding Bruce breaks his handcuffs and causes a crash, dragging the police to a safe distance before fleeing. He reaches Wayne Manor barely alive and sits before his father’s bust, requesting guidance in his war on crime. A bat crashes through a window and settles on the bust, giving him the inspiration to become a bat.
   There’s still novelty in seeing different sides to these beloved characters: Jim Gordon beating up corrupt police officers and leaving them naked in the road, Batman really struggling to fight his foes, often times losing the brawl and getting shot/beat up. Neither man is perfect or “superhero”-like – and it’s the introduction of such moral ambiguities – Batman’s incompetence, Gordon’s rashness and disloyalty – that makes the film stand out, much to the same effect as its comic counterpart.
   The true draw to this film is that it humanizes the Bat, we see him not as the nearly infallible idea that so many have come to know and fear, but as a man that is still very much learning his trade, that's what makes this story good regardless of the medium it is being told in.
The film fits somewhere in the upper third or so of the 16 or 17 (I've lost count, sorry...) films already released in the DCU line.
These special features are included on the Blu-Ray disc, which is what I am reviewing from.
•Sneak Peek at Justice League: Doom, the next DC Universe Animated Original Movie
DC Showcase Animated Original Short – “Catwoman”: This all-new entry to the growing canon of DC Universe animated shorts features the first first solo tale centered around Catwoman. The felonious feline’s adventure takes her through the seedy streets of Gotham City.
    •Featurette –”Heart of Vengeance: Returning Batman to His Roots”: The Dark Knight Returns provided the denouement of Batman’s life. Frank Miller’s next seminal work would provide his near-mythic origin in Batman: Year One. This documentary uncovers the contemporary genius of Miller and the audience that was poised to appreciate the depths of his work.
    •Featurette –”Conversations with DC Comics”: The Batman creative team at DC Entertainment discusses the personal influence of Batman: Year One on their careers. Batman producer Michael Uslan leads the chat amongst well-known writers, editors and artists of the Batman lore, focusing their dialogue on the darker, realistic interpretation of Batman’s origins by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
  • Audio Commentary with Alan Burnett, Sam Liu, Mike Carlin and Andrea Romano
  • Batman: Year One, Chapter 1 Digital Comic Book
  • Two bonus episodes from Batman: The Animated Series hand-picked by Bruce Timm
  • Digital copy on disc of the feature film compatible with iTunes and Windows
   Next up for the DC animated film line, Justice League: Doom, I can't wait!


  1. What I liked about the original story was the fact that it was also in its own way Jim Gordon In Gotham: Year One and how the stories were similar yet different and intertwined. Both characters got more than exceptional characterization and it's one of the best things Miller ever did for the Batman mythos.

  2. I also really like how Jim Gordon is rash and while a stickler for the rules, also kind of an off the wall character as he finds his own way to set up in the city. It's just about a perfect story, but it's just not told all that well in this format.

  3. Problem is, in live action it would just resemble an altered Batman Begins (there's some irony for you).
    When they do The Dark Knight Returns, I vote Michael Ironside to do Batman's voice, based on the TDKR homage in an episode of the 90's animated series.

  4. I still think Cranston does a fine job, and deserves at least one more crack at it in maybe a slightly better film.

  5. Maybe slightly age it up and do TDKR too? I mean, both are set in the same continuity (Year One is the fork in the road for Earth-1 and Earth-31 regarding Batman)

  6. Well you know a lot more about the universes than I, but I can see that... Can we get CLint Eastwood to voice Bruce?

  7. I wouldn't mind Eastwood, though I doubt he'd do it. Even though he's been my choice for years for an older Batman. But then you knew that.

  8. I did. And I know he says that he is retired from acting.... but does that include voice acting?

  9. Has he done much (if any) voice acting at all?
    Also, if you can, see if your library can get JLA: Tower Of Babel, so you can prepare yourself for JLA: Doom

  10. I'll be adding that to my reading list soon, though I have about 25 books to get through first before I add more to my list.

    I'm gonna start a Flash book tonight.

  11. Either Blitz or ReBirth I haven't decided which, but I have them both here.

  12. I too have a fair few books to go through, once I pick them up from the library. I intend to do that Friday so I can see if they can get a couple more of my orders

    Rebirth, as in, Rebirth Of Barry Allen?

  13. I believe that would be the one yes, sir. I'm not 100% positive, can't think of another 'rebirth' though.

    I'm leaning toward the other one first though, it's a small book and I may be able to read it all in one siting.

  14. I'm expecting a Flash book in my next pick-up, Rogue War

  15. Can't say that I have heard of that one, what's it about?

  16. Also when reading the Flash, do you hear a specific voice? Or it is one from your head from childhood. I still hear Michael Rosenbaum's voice when I'm reading it.

  17. Rogue War I know nothing about, so I'll let you know once I grab it.
    Since I only started seriously reading comics in 2005 and I saw JL and JLU before reading a lot of Flash, I imagine Rosenbaum a little for Wally and for Barry, something that sounds almost like Captain Planet but with a little less enthusiasm in his voice. Not that Barry's dark or anything, I just mean I imagine him sounding less chirpy than CP.

  18. I know it's a bit of a Faux Paux but I tend to think of the same voice regardless of real person when they are masked up. I probably should differentiate better in my head for when multiple versions of the characters cross over to each other.

  19. Sometimes the voices from the shows/movies don't match with what I think. Though, sometimes the DCAU and comic conceptions alter. For example, Killer Frost. In the DCAU, she looks and sounds awesome. Comics, she looks like if Storm and a banshee had a baby and I imagine her sounding like some kind of witch from a poor 80's cartoon, one of those vain witches always trying to regain their youth somehow.