Batman: Year One Blu-Ray Review - Mania.com



Mania Grade: C+

13 Comments | Add

 

Rate & Share:

 

Related Links:

 

Info:

  • Blu-ray: Batman: Year One Blu-ray
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Starring (Voices): Benjamin Mckenzie, Bryan Cranston, Eliza Dushku, Alex Rocco
  • Written By: Tab Murpy, Frank Miller
  • Directed By: Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery
  • Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
  • Original Year of Release: 2011
  • Extras: See Below
  • Series: Batman: Year One

Batman: Year One Blu-Ray Review

Too Short adaptation of a classic Batman story

By Tim Janson     October 19, 2011

 

I still remember when Batman: Year One came out in 1987. While it is regular practice today, back then the mini-series within a regular series was a pretty new concept. Everything Batman was hot. The Dark Knight Returns had come out the year before and the first Batman film was still a couple of years away. The story of Batman’s first year as a crime fighter was told within the pages of the regular Batman comic, issues 404 – 407. Frank Miller, who had awed us all with the tale of the near-future Batman in Dark Knight Returns, now took us back to the very beginning. His tale was complemented brilliantly by the atmospheric art of David Mazzuccelli.
 
Now that iconic storyline is the subject of the latest DC Comics animated feature. It’s been well over 20 years since I read the comics, but the Directorial team of Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery have given fans a faithful version of the story. The film begins with Jim Gordon moving with his pregnant wife Barbara to Gotham City to take a position as Lieutenant with the Gotham PD. Gordon is immediately smacked in the face with the rampant corruption of the department including his partner, Detective Flass and even the current commissioner. Bruce Wayne has just returned back to Gotham after some 13 years abroad. Still distraught over the murder of his parents, Bruce decides to try and take matters into his own hands but isn’t sure what to do. His inexperience leads him into Gotham’s East End where he gets into a confrontation with a pimp and then has to fight off Selina Kyle (Catwoman), leading to his arrest by corrupt cops. Bruce is able to escape the police and soon after has his fateful epiphany where a chance encounter with a bat leads him to don the Batman costume for the first time.  
 
While Batman begins his crusade, Gordon is leading his own crusade to take down the crooked cops in the department. Even after being beaten by several fellow cops wearing masks and having his life threatened, Gordon refuses to back down. Soon these two men have their destinies intertwined, forever chasing the face of Gotham. 
 
At one time, Batman: Year One was planned as a feature film. We never got that film but at least we got an animated version although it is not a perfect adaptation. At 64 minutes, it’s too short to properly deliver the emotional impact of the comic story. Other DC animated films like Green Lantern: First Flight, and Justice league Crisis on Two Earths have ran anywhere from 75 to 85 minutes, so why the mere hour-long feature? What we end up with is an abridged version of the story that might cover the main points, but fails to develop any depth, especially for characters like mob boss Carmine “the Roman” Falcone. 
 
A great strength of the DC animated features is the always-outstanding voice talent. The voice talent in Batman: Year One is once again very good with one major exception. Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad nails Jim Gordon. Hell, give him a mustache and let him play the role in the next bigs screen film, he’s that good. Another standout is longtime character actor Alex Rocco who voices Falcone. Eliza Dushku does a credible job as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. The exception though is Benjamin McKenzie (Star of the O.C.) as Bruce Wayne/Batman. He is so stilted and wooden in his delivery that it actually makes you cringe. He brings no passion for emotion to the role at all. Apparently DC wanted to go with a younger actor for the role and didn’t use the always-reliable Kevin Conroy. Heck I’d have preferred Rino Romano over McKenzie. This was a rare casting misstep for DC. It doesn’t sink the film but it certainly is a major fault.
 
Blu-Ray Extras
 
Audio Commentary with Alan Burnett, Sam Liu, Mike Carlin and Andrea Romano
 
DC Showcase Presents Catwoman. This is a 15 minute short feature starring Catwoman. And lets just say that with her sexy strip club dance number, this is one that is definitely not for the kids as Catwoman is on the trail of diamond smugglers. Actually quite enjoyable.
 
Heart of Vengeance: Returning Batman to His Roots: A look at Batman through work of Frank Miller. Well done documentary that shows off Miller’s genius.
 
Conversations with DC Comics: The Batman creative team at DC Entertainment discusses the personal influence of Batman: Year One on their careers. Includes Batman producer Michael Uslan and several comic creators commenting.
 
Batman: Year One, Chapter 1 Digital Comic Book
 
Sneak Peek at Justice League: Doom, the next DC Universe Animated Original Movie. This one looks outstanding!
 
Two bonus episodes from Batman: The Animated Series hand-picked by Bruce Timm

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 13
1 2 >  >>  
Wyldstaar 10/19/2011 7:53:32 PM

I agree completely about Benjamin McKenzie.  His performance was a disaster, and obviously so.  His recordings should have been discarded, and then they could have had someone else handle the part. 

I know that The Dark Knight Returns is already on the schedule of future Warner Premier movies, but I hope it's the last Batman solo story for a good long while.  There's already plenty of Dark Knight media out there.  Give us more Superman, Justice League and lesser known characters.  If they feel like they just gotta got to the Batman universe, use someone else like Nightwing.

CaptAmerica04 10/19/2011 8:31:23 PM

 Only Kevin Conroy should ever voice Batman in my lifetime.

Clownican 10/19/2011 9:27:15 PM

I'm freaking sick of these short run times. Never have I watched one of these films and felt that the run time was long enough. Each film should be at the very least 90 minutes. I feel like I'm watching an episode of a TV show when I watch these.

That being said, I do own all the DC Animated movies and will continue to buy them because I'm a die hard DC fan.

 

Hobbs 10/20/2011 5:47:05 AM

Ouch a C plus and so many of you were looking forward to this.

tiredjay 10/20/2011 6:59:25 AM

I got a feeling that McKenzie's performance was more of an issue with voice direction, than his actual ability.  If you think about where Bruce Wayne is mentally at that point, he is an emotionless robot, having spent the last 15 years programming himself to get revenge for his parents' deaths. 

If you notice, his performance improves, or rather livens, over the length of the feature as he's exposed more to others, the reality of Gotham, and his own falibility.

Remember, a performance doesn't come out of a vacuum, it's directed by someone, and that someone wanted that performance.  Whether it be Andrea Romano, Lauren Montgomery, or Sam Liu, somebody made a call, and that call is what we heard on screen.  If you want to blame someone, don't blame McKenzie, because he's just the talent they got to do their performance.

As for length?  Well, this is pretty much exactly how long Year One would be if you animated it as is, about 15 minutes per book.  The thing about Year One is that it was the combination of Mazzuccelli's atmospheric art with Miller's dialogue that made the book what it was, not its depth or breadth.  The directors took that, and well, it's what we got.  It walks better as a comic than it does as a movie.

pumaleader 10/20/2011 7:27:40 AM

I agree that only Kevin Conroy should ever do Batman's voice and Tim Daly with Superman. I did not like the voice in this at all. My only other complaint is seeing Selina Kyle as a prostitute...I know it's in the story, but I think it greatly lessens the character. Other than that I enjoyed this movie a lot.

tjanson 10/20/2011 7:50:03 AM

Tired...you make some good points...but maybe the story should have been padded a bit...As mentioned this was a good 15 - 20 minutes shorter than the other DC animated films.  perhaps they could have showed Bruce Wayne during his time abroad or Jim gordon as a chicago cop to give a bit more background to the characters.  As someone mentioned, it seemed more like an episode of the TV show than a feature film.

millean 10/20/2011 8:32:09 AM

Not a bad movie, but not as good as most of the other DC animated features (my least favorites were Batman: Gotham Nights and All Star Superman).  Batman's voice just seemed totally out of place, blame the voice actor or the casting director, I don't care.  That being said, it wasn't a major distraction as this is really Jim Gordon's story, not Batman's.

It did feel a bit short.  I stopped the movie at what I thought was about halfway through it because I didn't think I had time to finish it.  Little did I realize that I was only about 5 minutes from the end.

DC has such an excellent track record with their animation.  Looking forward to more stories.  Since I have been purchasing these at Best Buy and have all of the figures, they really need to do one on the Flash - that way I would have a figure of the main 5 Justice League members.  :)

phantomx69 10/20/2011 9:58:22 AM

he tried to sound like christian bale, should have had bale do the voice in this!!

phatts7734 10/20/2011 3:45:48 PM

  this film was awesome. it had all the high points from the book and executed them well. as for the voice of batman... you get over with the help of the other cast members, direction, and beautiful animation.

 

i give it an  A-

1 2 >  >>  

ADD A COMMENT

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Please click here to login.

POPULAR TOPICS