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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Animated > Shorts > Anime > Batman – Gotham Knight – 2-Disc Special Edition (Animated + DVD Warner Bros./DC Comics)

Batman – Gotham Knight – 2-Disc Special Edition (Animated + DVD Warner Bros./DC Comics)


Picture: B     Sound: B-     Extras: A-    Shorts: B



Batman returns to animated form with Batman: Gotham Knight.  Acting as the timeline between Batman Begins and Batman Dark Knight, Batman: Gotham Knight shows the slow and painstaking evolution of a hero.  Batman is becoming stronger and more confident in his role as he begins to despise, yet simultaneously connect with the villains he is trying to bring to justice.  Gotham is hell, existing as an urban disaster and Batman is doing his best to restore the once great city he believes in, even if it means working from the ground up.


The direct to DVD film approaches the Dark Knight from six different angles, each story using its own individual animated style and director.  All 6 stories within Batman: Gotham Knight were created by writers Josh Olson, David Goyer, Brian Azzarello, Greg Rucka, Jordan Goldberg, and Alan Burnett.  Kevin Conroy returns as the voice of Batman (thankfully after that awful Justice League film Batman) in each of the short films and hits the ball out of the park with his always memorable voice performance.  The segments each have their own unique story arches, but all fade and blend into each other even with the apparent visual style changes.  To this reviewer the stories got progressively better one after the other.


The first short film, Have I got a Story for You, explains the Batman mythos from the point of view of several children who had different run-ins with the Dark Knight.  One child describes him as a ghost-like shadow, another as a monstrous Bat-Man, and a third child recalls him to be an emotionless but powerful robot.  The style is interesting and does an excellent job of capturing the ‘urban legend’ side of the Caped Crusader, where no one can quite separate fact from fiction.


Not wanting to give too much away the other shorts jump around and deal with such happenings as dealing with specific villains like Killer Croc and Scarecrow (yes, he’s alive and well…out of his mind) too dealing with the personal loss and pain that still exists behind the man in the mask.  It is amazing to see how much can be done with just animation and body language; things like how Killer Croc lashes out at the world while, Batman stays calm and controlled and tries to save it.  And how the villain and the hero fight for different reasons, but are so oddly similar; purely amazing.



One of the best segments of the 6 part film would have to be Batman’s battle with Deadshot.  The odd connection between villain and hero is once again seen in this segment as Batman says he can see the appeal of a gun…or in another way, the easy way…but he doesn’t take that path; unlike the villains he faces.  It is certain that the villainous coward Deadshot has never been done so charismatically, yet dastardly as he is portrayed here in Batman: Gotham Knight.


Overall, the film is stunning and a good bit of Darkness to wet any fans appetite until the next Batman film hits theaters.


The technical features on the short running 76 minute feature are solid and well put together and apparently look even better on Blu-Ray.  The picture on Batman: Gotham Knight steps out of the shadows of the past with its 1.78 X 1 Widescreen image and use of stunning visuals.  As previously mentioned a number of different artists, animators, and directors were used on this unique project, so each of the segments has its on individual artistic style.  The colors in each segment, no matter the style, are bright and fluid while continuing to give the dark, matted edge that fans have come to expect from batman.  The crispness and light/dark balance is not always perfect as it could be, but the Blu-Ray release should clear up the minor technical issues found here on DVD.  The sound is presented in a not so exciting, but still nice, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround.  Whereas the sound is well balanced and uses the speakers well for the most part, it does not do enough to encompass the whole sound stage and the smaller details are at times lost.  The sound holds solid with the ‘BANGS,’ ‘POWS,’ and ‘ZOOMS’ but this reviewer still feels the crispness and fullness need work.


The extras on this 2-Disc set are impressive and are almost make the set worth it, even without the already outstanding film.  The extras include:


Disc 1:


Full Commentary by DC Comics Senior Vice President/Creative Affairs Gregory Noveck, Former Batman Editor Dennis O’Neil and Voice of Batman Kevin Conroy


The commentary track is very insightful, but takes a different stance on the commentary than many fans are probably used to hearing.  The individuals giving the commentary were no the biggest driving forces behind Batman: Gotham Knight (though they each did contribute), so the commentary is presented more as outsiders looking in on the mythos that is Batman.  The commentators discuss in great detail how Batman has evolved as a character and pop culture icon.  A great correlation is made about Batman being like Shakespeare’s Hamlet on many fronts; from his tragic loss within the elaborate superhero world too the manner in which the Batman tale has the ability to develop and be interpreted in different ways with time.  After viewing the film it is fully worthwhile to give this commentary track a listen for some great insight and perspective that you won’t find anywhere else.


Exclusive Sneak Peek at DC Universe’s Wonder Woman [animated film]


This featurette more than looking at the new animated film that is arriving on DVD and Blu-ray, takes the viewer into the world of Wonder Woman from her very creation.  You hear stories about her conception, the Wonder Woman mythology, her contributions to the feminist movement, and much more.  Also in this segment you will hear from the many voice actors that take part in the film, like that of leading lady Keri Russell.


Trailers: Batman - Dark Knight, Popeye, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Batman Lego Videogame.



Disc 2:


A Mirror for the Bat: Featurette Exploring Batman and the Evil Denizens of Gotham City


Just as the title sounds, this featurette explores the villains that surround Batman and he deals with the plague that has consumed Gotham City.  The featurette is full of insightful thoughts from an array of commentators that have contributed to the Batman universe in one way, shape, or form.  The featurette goes through most of the Batman baddies and gives the commentators a chance to remark on the villains’ motivations and psychological profile.  Overall, it is a very highly detailed, information heavy top 10 list of Batman villains.


Batman and Me, a Devotion to Destiny: The Bob Kane Story


This featurette is a revealing documentary about Bob Kane, his life, and his inspirations behind creating Batman.  According to Bob Kane himself he had four major influences in creating Batman; Leonardo Da Vinci’s flying machine, a film about a villainous character dressed up like a bat, Zorro, and money.  Having been born into poverty in 1915 in Bronx, New York, Bob Kane wanted nothing more than to spring from the slums and claw his way to the top.  Many commentators arrive to speak kindly on Bob’s behalf; even the great Stan Lee reveals some tantalizing tid bits about Kane.  The featurette is very well done and does an excellent job of uncovering the man behind the bat.



Bruce Timm Presents 4 Bonus Batman Animated Series Episodes:


          Heart of Ice

          I am the Night

          Legends of the Dark Knight

          Over the Edge



Collectively these are some of the most beautifully animated stories of Batman to ever be created; especially Heart of Ice.  The tales are captivating, emotional, artistic, and all around amazing.  Batman the Animated Series is one of the most entertaining series to ever appear on television; not only for its entertainment value, but for its stylistic interpretation of the Dark Knight.  Though this reviewer is still waiting to see this older series in its High Definition Blu-ray presentation when they get around to doing new transfers of the material, this will do for now.



This reviewer can highly recommend this set due to it being well rounded in all aspects.  The feature itself was simply stunning with its wide use of different styles and interpretations of the Batman mythos.  The extras on this set were also an excellent addition that will surely please any Batman enthusiast.  And whereas the technical features were not out of this world, they were still nicely presented and for the most part did Batman justice. 


The villains aren’t aliens or superhuman, they have no superpowers; they are psychologically driven, just like Batman himself.  So come lurk in the shadows and join the madness that is Gotham City.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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