Welcome to the first installment of Comics On The Screen, where the CBC staff takes a look at any filmed (television, movie, direct to dvd, etc.) dealing with comics. This month, for our very first review, we will feature none other than the newly released Batman: Year One.
BATMAN: YEAR ONE
Review by Frankie Rodriguez
Benjamin McKenzie as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Bryan Cranston as Lt. James Gordon
Eliza Dushku as Selina Kyle/Catwoman
Alex Rocco as Carmine "The Roman" Falcone
Screenplay by Tab Murphy
Studio: Warner Bros. Animation/DC Entertainment
Original Story by Frank Miller
Directed by Sam Liu & Lauren Montgomery
Produced by Lauren Montgomery, Alan Burrnett & Bruce Timm
Based off the original Year One storyline that was printed in Batman 404-407.
It has been a while since I reviewed anything. Heck, this is my first movie review for CBC. But I do enjoy doing these. That said, instead of my long winded yet enjoyable retelling of all the events of the story, I am gonna keep it fairly streamlined so that you can decided if and when you watch the movie that I didn't ruin anything for you.
Now . . . Batman: Year One. The movie starts with James Gordon just being transferred into the city with some ominous overtones of things not working out so great at his last job and we meet his partner, Detective Flass. And immediately we are proven how much of a prick Flass is. His voice, portrayed by Fred Tatasciore (best know for being the Hulk in nearly every direct to dvd Marvel animation as well as in Avengers: Earth's Mightiest) really does a great job in pushing to viewers how shady Detective Flass is with his very voice, matched by the animation. I digress. James gets himself situated in Gotham with his pregnant wife.
Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne has just returned to Gotham after 12 years abroad which makes headlines. Alfred welcomes him back and Bruce gets settled in . . . while practicing martial arts outside where he breaks trees. And yes . . .multiple trees . . . and some rocks to. We get to see how driven Bruce is through actions more than exposition.
Back with Bruce, we see that he decides to go out for a night out in the town . . . by dressing up like a hobo and giving himself a scar and bad make up job to look unrecognizable enough that he can roam freely. He does and stops a prostitute from getting beaten up. A somewhat familiar prostitute for fans of the comics. Bruce saves Holly Robinson (no, not the actress from 21 Jump Street or Hangin' with Mr. Cooper) by knocking out her pimp. And what does she do in gratitude . .. why stab her hero. This erupts a fight between Bruce and a slew of street thugs who Bruce does fairly well against. So much so that the noise of the thugs getting their behinds whooped by Bruce gets attention from another, more recognizable character . . . Selina Kyle. She joins the fight, siding with the thugs and gives Bruce a run for his money for a bit. It looks as the two could fight all night when the police arrive . . . and shoot Bruce. Gotham's Finest Ladies and Gentlemen.
Switch over to James Gordon where some inner monologue reveals that he's tailing Flass one night. Even being smart as to J1 Founder and CEO Jason Richardson commented " Now that's smart. Following him with his lights off."
And Gordon proceeds to have one of the most bad*** moments of the movie . . . crashing Flass's car and proceeding to beating the crap out of Flass as both retaliation and a warning. Do Not Mess with the Gordons.
Gordon is on his way back, sharing his inner monologue that he knows Flass won't tell anyone about what happened. As he passes drives on, he passes a car . .. where Bruce is driving home after forcing the cops who shot him off the road, crashing their car and escaping in his car. Bruce reaches while manor with a bullet wound in his shoulder; contemplating death cause he felt he failed and see no point in living. He looks at a sculpture of his father where Bruce asks his dad for a sign and we get one. A big one. A bat, very dramatically, crashes through the window and lands on top of the sculpture of Thomas Wayne.
There's your sign to be Batman.
Gordon corners Batman at some point into an abandon house full of homeless. Branden comes in with his SWAT team, ready to kill Batman. Yet, Batman proves his worth as he takes down the police and survives . . . even after Loeb orders helicopters to fire bomb the house . . . killing the homeless within. Batman beats down just about all of the SWAT team until he gets cornered inside the burning building with gunfire raining down on him like a monsoon. Yet, in his ingenuity, Batman uses a sonic emitter to have thousands of bats show up in one of the most breathtaking animated scenes I have ever seen. The bats break through the walks and windows and swarm the house. They follow Batman to cover his escape. This incident inspires Selina to become Catwoman and steal from Falcone; even leaving one of his men with scratches on his face. Batman later suggest that she wasted his team and goes off.
Yet the climax of the movie deals with Gordon, who is blackmailed into hunting down Batman by Loeb who holds a picture of his affair with Essen. Gordon though tells Barbara what happened after a comical interview by Gordon and his wife with Bruce Wayne and . . . a hot woman that is just there. Barbara Gordon gives birth to her and Jim's son, Jim Jr. (no little Barbara Gordon yet folks). Gordon is about to leave his wife after convincing Flass to testify against Loeb and Falcone. Loeb and Falcone get a bunch of men to go after Barbara Gordon. Jim leaves only to see a motorcycle with a driver dressed in black go directly to his apartment complex. Gordon immediately turns around and finds Falcone's men kidnapping his son and wife. Jim Gordon goes Commando and shoots down several of Falcone's men, freeing his wife. Yet one thug gets away with Jim Jr. Jim goes after them as another man tries to sneak up on Barbara Gordon, only to be saved by the Motorist . . . with a very familiar voice. Jim has a show down with the Thug on a bridge where he drops the baby and . . .
OH no. I'm not giving you the ending. You watch the movie for yourself for that.
DC Animations has become well known for their high quality shows. Since Batman the Animated Series in the 90s, fans flock to these properties like water on the hottest day in the year. Batman Year One is no different.the Of late, with certain movies, animators have been transposing the comic book artist style into animation . . . and this is no different. While there are hits of the same animators of Young Justice and Justice League Crisis on Two Earths but definite nods to the storyline artist, David Mazzuchelli. The screenplay and dialogue was very easy to follow, many of the most notable quotes from the storyline itself.
And let me just say that Bryan Cranston's Jim Gordon was by far the most interesting, most compelling Jim Gordon that I have ever seen with the exception of Gary Olman. The material in this story really let Gordon and Bruce shine and Cranston took full advantage of it. Jim Gordon can handle his own and be tough when he needed to be yet at the same time had no problem being a bit more emotional when needed. Prime examples is his dealing with his wife being pregnant then dealing with Flass. This was a Jim Gordon we rarely saw in the movies (besides the recent Dark Knight movie) and I can honest say that Crayston's performance fits Jim Gordon like a glove.
I already want a Year Two movie with this cast. Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery deserve kudos for their exceptional job making these actors really dive into this material. Andrea Romano needs to be praised alongside Bruce Timm for giving such a great work. The animation was amazing. The voice cast was exquisite. The dialogue was realistic, interesting. The story was gripping and very much a tribute to its source material. And the best part was that while Jim Gordon was indeed one of the central characters, he did not outshine Batman but stayed his equal; and the movie really did a great job posing that for the viewers. All in all, Batman: Year One was a great movie that really gives a wonderful start to the Batman. This is the movie I would show to get people who want to see how Batman really began in the streets of Gotham and how important Gordon is to its mythos.
Quick explanation . . you know how I used to do the whole belts thing with my reviews of comics. Well, I am gonna be a little simplier here and go by a 1 to 5 system with 1 being ubersuck and 5 being OMG WATCH IT NOW!!!
With great animation, a Supremely exceptional cast and great story . . .I give Batman: Year One . . . A Batman Year One 5 Bats . .. out of 5.
Batman:Year One is in stores now . . . alongside Batman: Arkham City video game . . . both just released yesterday. Hmm . . . Great marketing move there DC.
THIS WEEKEND IS TAKII: AN ANIME CONVENTION IN PHILADELPHIA
AND AT THE CONVENTION IS . . ..EVE OF CHAMPIONS
On Sunday, October 23rd, J1 Studios in conjunction with The Asian Karaoke Idol Invitational will be hosting the Eve of Champions tournament!!! Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is the game, $10 to enter, and there's prizes in store for everyone.
And that is all for this month. See ya next month.