BATMAN: YEAR ONE (ANIMATED ORIGINAL MOVIE)
October 13th 2012 20:36
Batman created by Bob Kane
Based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller & David Mazzucchelli
Directors: Sam Liu & Lauren Montgomery
Written by: Tab Murphy
Producer: Lauren Montgomery
Starring: Benjamin McKenzie (Batman/Bruce Wayne), Eliza Dushku (Selina Kyle/Catwoman), Jeff Bennet (Alfred Pennyworth), Bryan Cranston (Lt James Gordon), Katee Sackhoff (Det Sarah Essen), Alex Rocco (Carmine ‘The Roman’ Falcone), Fred Tatiscore (Det Arnold Flass), Jon Politio (Commissioner Loeb), Robin Atkin Downes (Harvey Dent)
Produced by: Warner Brothers Animation
Released by: Warner Home Video
In the wake of the various Christopher Nolan efforts at reworking the entire Dark Knight mythos comes this particular animated original feature that draws heavily upon the graphic novel of the same name which Nolan himself used as source material for Batman Begins. Considering that the most recent Dark Knight film, the Dark Knight Rises was released only a few months ago and is still very much in the collective consciousness releasing this flick now could be seen as something as a blunder on the behalf of Warner Bros. Obviously though the company behind the release have taken a gamble that due to the success of the Dark Knight Rises people will want more Batman…especially considering he is one of the major iconic properties owned by Warner Bros (via their ownership of DC). Fortunately it has paid off…at least in terms of quality and entertainment value…
Frankly I think that the last seven years or so have seen what I’d like to call a Dark Knight or Batman Renaissance, where there has been a serious reworking of what has gone before leading to the delivery of a much improved product in terms of Batman films. What went on before was alright…but it wasn’t great…and it sure as heck wasn’t worth the money spent for cinema tickets. In fact the old Batman television series could be seen as having better value than some of the pre Batman Begins flicks. But I digress…how does this particular feature rate? How does Batman Year One size up?
Possibly the most unusual facet of the entire feature is that there is not one single individual in the whole show who has super powers, even though it’s a superhero flick. Rather than fighting guys who can move through walls or move faster than sound or even leap tall buildings in a single bound Batman finds himself facing off against ordinary crooks, thugs and corrupt cops who although not possible of an unnatural abilities still have guns, knives, baseball bats, martial arts and combat training that can hurt him just like anyone else. It is this sense of ‘normalness’ that probably explains part of the popularity of Batman as a character, granted he is wealthy, well trained and he does have a lot of cool toys and gadgets due to that wealth…but at the end of the day he can be wounded and hurt just like any other ordinary person. He feels more feasible than a character like say Superman or even Green Lantern.
Thus part of the charm of the film is the fact that we see that Batman as a character doesn’t emerge fully grown and invincible…rather he grows and his growth is somewhat rock as he attempts to adjust to the mantle of Batman and the task he has taken on. The other interesting fact about the film, which was also very much an aspect of the original graphic novel, is that it is not a solitary journey. Though the movie is called Batman Year One it is also focused on the journey of two other key Batman characters; Selina Kyle aka Catwoman and Lieutenant James Gordon. Within the unfolding scope of the story we not only witness the evolution of Batman but also that of one of his on again off again foes as well as his greatest ally.
Benjamin McKenzie, the man cast as the voice for Bruce Wayne aka Batman does a superb job in the role, he gives the character a degree of earnestness and drive that only enhances the overall feel of the story. You feel through his acting that you are watching a very personal journey, a journey into the dark places of the city where the possibility of death is all too real. As far as the actor cast in the role of Lt James Gordon is concerned he too manages to nail the role of a man desperately seeking to establish a family in a city not fit for families whilst at the same time struggling to maintain his ideals and character in a dark dirty metropolis… All in all Batman: Year One delivers the goods, and if you are a fan of the Dark Knight then you can’t go past this feature, its well worth getting your hands on.
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