Batman: Year One Review

 

Some time around last winter I made a little vow to myself not to watch anything Batman-related, with the intent of saving all my Batman movies and cartoons for about a month before The Dark Knight Rises’ release to best psych myself up for what is sure to be an unforgettable motion picture event. This of course excluded comic books and video games. Living a life without having played Batman: Arkham Asylum is not something I want to fathom. I broke my little vow by watching Batman: Year One earlier this week.

 

 

It’s a decent animated film. It alternates between focusing on Batman/Bruce Wayne and Lt. James Gordon, it establishes the characters, their personalities, their morals, and the events that lead up to affirming the relationship between the two that we all know and love. There’s a little Catwoman thrown in, too.

 

 

It’s a fair enough adaptation of Frank Miller’s story, an artist to whom many Bat-fans feel indebted, though maybe it doesn’t translate quite perfectly. The foundation of the story is all there, we have the characters we know, we have the elements of corruption in Gotham City and the never-ending battle for justice, but I don’t know, I can’t quite put my finger on it, it just doesn’t flow as naturally and as satisfyingly as it should. Everything here feels included by obligation and not structure. Maybe it just doesn’t translate that well. Nolan’s films took but only hints from Miller’s stories and the end result is infinitely more memorable. Well, duh.

 

But it’s not as if the movie has the mega-budget of a Nolan film, so we have to give it credit in that department. The animation is pretty good. Good, not great. I mean, there’s nothing really wrong with it. But it’s not like “this is the beginning and end of all Batman animation” kind of amazing or anything. The action scenes are pretty cool at least. Hello shaky cam.

 

 

Before watching it I had heard the voice acting wasn’t great. This is a criticism I have to agree with. It’s not that compelling, is it? I have no idea who this Ben McKenzie dude is but his Batman sucks. Really. Deal with it. So much for being constructive.

 

 

With these DC movies I think all you can do is hope for the best, hope for something grand, and at least be willing to compromise when it doesn’t exactly deliver on everything you wanted. There’s nothing at all wrong with Batman: Year One, it indeed gets the job done but running at barely an hour in length it’s not is if there’s all too much detail so you can’t really expect a magnum opus. Keep in mind that cartoons like this have to appeal to kids, too. Though I wonder what kind of kid may love this movie, cheering on Gordon as he deals with domestic issues. Whatever the case that’s probably a pretty awesome kid.

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