Monday, July 31, 2017

My Review of Batman: Year One (2011)

Written by Tab Murphy
Directed by Sam Liu & Lauren Montgomery

Batman: "Ladies, gentlemen, you've eaten well. You've eaten Gotham's wealth. Its spirit. But your feast is nearly over. From this moment on, none of you are safe."

A few years before landing the role of James Gordon in Gotham, Benjamin McKenzie actually had the honour of playing the Dark Knight himself, albeit in animated form in this pretty faithful adaptation of a popular Frank Miller comic of the same.

Year One is telling us the readers/viewers of Bruce Wayne's first year as Batman and it's a pretty fascinating enough look into things as after several years of being out of the city, Bruce returns to Gotham with a mission statement in mind and a determination to help clean up the city of the crime that the police themselves just haven't been able to manage to do since his absence.

With flashbacks to his calling with a bat flying into his house, we get to see Bruce going undercover to tackle a pimp mistreating one of his girls while also getting into a fight with Selina Kyle (Eliza Dushku), who in this universe is a dominatrix before taking on her more famous role. Bruce then manages to get arrested before escaping police custody and escalating his fight even further by attracting the wrath of mafia boss Carmine Falcone (Alex Rocco).

However while this might be exploring Batman's first year, it's also delving into Detective James Gordon's (Bryan Cranston) as he not has to deal with a crime riddled city, but also corruption within his own station thanks to both Flass (Fred Tatasciore) and Commissioner Loeb (Jon Polito) playing their own role in the city's corruption.

There's a not so thrilling affair subplot with Detective Essen (Katee Sackhoff) thrown into the mix which doesn't really threaten or endanger Gordon's marriage to his pregnant wife, Barbara but it does come to a head when Bruce manages to successfully get Gordon off his scent (for a bit), even though it adds little to the storyline. However by the time Barbara actually gives birth, the baby in question is then used as leverage between Loeb, Falcone's men as both Gordon and a barely disguised Bruce rush to save the child and take down the baddies.

For an insight into one year, it covers a decent amount of stuff. We get to see both Gordon and Bruce's journeys play out really well and there's space for Selina to go on her journey as Catwoman, even if she's treated as being in the way during one particular altercation between herself, Batman and Falcone. While I definitely could've done with more of Selina and am critical of Miller's depiction of her in this story, it was nice to see both her and Batman still share some screen time together.

- The DVD for this has a 15 minute Catwoman cartoon, which sees Dushku reprise the role and take down a baddie of her own.
- Vicki Vale was added to this movie, though the character did not appear in the comic itself.
- Prior to Batman Begins, there were some plans for a Year One movie but they were scrapped.
- The movie ends with a set up for the Joker.

Year One is a dynamic enough adaptation of the popular comic. While I think McKenzie might make a better Gordon than Batman on another show, he does a decent job even though he's slightly overshadowed by Cranston's depiction of Gordon. It's a strong animated movie though, one that really should get a sequel at some point.

Rating: 7 out of 10

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