Gotham Knight-tastic!July 9, 2008
I watched it. I’ve heard mixed reviews, a lot of people saying they didn’t like it, some that the visuals were great, etc., etc. Well, I liked it.
Gotham Knight, contrary to marketing belief, is not really any kind of Animatrix in the sense that the stories connect us from Batman Begins to The Dark Knight. So remove any preconceived notions about that before viewing. The DVD has more to do with Batman himself than the upcoming film. I think the false expectation of it being related to the Christopher Nolan movies is its release date and the fact that the Scarecrow is in it.
Think additional Batman: The Animated Series episodes with some spectacular Japanese animation styling, and you’ll likely find the short films more enjoyable.
The DVD contains six short films, some of them interweaving into the next, some not, but a worthwhile watch. Let’s run through them.
Have I Got A Story For You
And have I got an option for you: skip to the next story. What? Really? The take on the first mini-movie is all these kids telling their different versions of encounters with The Bat. It is kind of interesting, but likely what has put a lot of people off watching the rest of the DVD. Skip it–you can come back to it if you like. The styles are interesting and definitely some great animation, but the story is just so-so. It’s the weakest link, and probably shouldn’t have been first (though it probably doesn’t fit anywhere else). The other problem is the idea has been done–repeatedly–and done better in Batman:TAS.
Batman skeptic becomes believer in this tale of two detectives working under Gordon. The animation is a marked contrast to the first and reminiscent of TAS days. The story is so-so as we’re still not really into Batman perspective territory here. It’s good, just not the best on the disc.
Definitely the most anime style take on Batman, with a very young-looking Bruce testing out new technology. I love Kevin Conroy and he’ll always be Batman to me, but for this piece his voice seemed out of place and didn’t match the youngish look of Bruce. I think they might have been better off getting a younger voice for this one piece and leaving Kevin for the rest. The story is what does it for me, as although Batman is the “Dark” Knight, I liked seeing the contrast in his value of human life–even criminal life.
In Darkness Dwells
Probably my favorite stylistically. Batman takes on Killer Croc and the Scarecrow with some of the best visuals of the DVD and really where the DVD starts to pick up its pace. It also sets us up for the next piece (and my favorite story-wise).
Working Through the Pain
We join a younger Bruce Wayne, mostly in pre-Batman form where he learned to deal with pain. I particularly liked this story because it shows some of the real difficulties in being Batman. Although we list him as a superhero, he is the most vulnerable (which probably also contributes to his popularity because of his accessibility). He may have technology to help protect him, but the fact is his work would still scare most of us away from trying it ourselves with out red cape invincibility.
Probably the best action-wise, and likely a favorite for most. The visuals are stunning (well, they have been for most of the DVD, but this one seems more so) and once again shows us Batman’s strength lies in his determination to keep moving. Deadshot works as a 5-minute villain and especially as a contrast to Batman, as when Deadshot is wounded he loses all his supervillain prowess, but when Batman is wounded he shows his strength to overcome.
Batman Fans: If you’re in love with the Batman world anyways, this will be a nice contribution to your collection. The animation is great, the shaping of Batman works toward truly making him The Dark Knight. The stories show us the difficulty in being Batman, which probably is intended to contribute to the upcoming movie and the difficulty Batman faces in facing the worst villain he ever faces. I kind of look at Gotham Knight as a prep course for true enjoyment and understanding of Batman in The Dark Knight.
Parents: If you’re purchasing this for anyone less than teen-aged, you may want to rent it first. It is very much violent, with plenty of disturbing images. Basically, I’d say at least 10 and up to enjoy the DVD.
Average DVD buyer: You’ll probably want to skip out on picking up this DVD. It WON’T have anything about the Joker in it, and it’s only related to the upcoming in the sense that it’s Batman.
2-Disc vs. Single: The recommendation is to get the 2-Disc edition. The extras include documentaries about the Batman rogues, Bob Kane (the creator of Batman), and some bonus Batman:TAS episodes to give you your money’s worth. If you’re going to go Single Disc (which includes just commentary and the films), just rent it.