Batman – Gotham Knight – 2-Disc Special Edition (Animated + DVD Warner Bros./DC Comics)
B Sound: B- Extras: A- Shorts: B
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
the film is stunning and a good bit of Darkness to wet any fans appetite until
the next Batman film hits theaters.
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
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:
Commentary by DC Comics Senior Vice President/Creative Affairs Gregory Noveck,
Former Batman Editor Dennis O’Neil and Voice of Batman Kevin Conroy
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.
Sneak Peek at DC Universe’s Wonder Woman [animated film]
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.
Batman - Dark Knight, Popeye, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Batman Lego Videogame.
A Mirror for the
Bat: Featurette Exploring Batman and the Evil Denizens of Gotham City
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
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.
Timm Presents 4 Bonus Batman Animated Series Episodes:
am the Night
of the Dark Knight
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
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.
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