Batmania Part 7: ‘Batman: Gotham Knight’

Originally I was only going to write reviews for the six Batman theatrical films, leading up to The Dark Knight which opens in theaters this weekend.  But then I wrote a short essay on how the 1989 Batman film changed my life, and so I decided to broaden Batmania to include other things related to Batman’s presence in film.  I recently watched Batman: Gotham Knight and felt it was worthy of being included.

It’s a direct-to-DVD animated movie, although it’s much better than DC’s most recent efforts, Superman: Doomsday (which was screaming to be made into a live-action feature) and Justice League: New Frontier (which needed to be a tv miniseries).  Batman: Gotham Knight is DC’s first foray into anime, with six different anime directors responsible for one of the six interlocking stories.  I’m not a far of anime by any means (I’m still scratching my head as to what the hell was Spirited Away about), but the animation style works exceptionally well for the subject matter.

What’s it about?  The six stories are as follows:

– “Have I Got A Story For You” A bunch of teenagers recall their eyewitness experiences involving Batman.  (All of them differ greatly.)

– “Crossfire”  Two Gotham City police officers debate Batman’s merits while caught between a violent gang war.

– “Field Test” An examination of the gadgets Batman uses when fighting crime.

– “In Darkness Dwells” Down in the sewers lives a mutant named Killer Croc who is poisoned by the Scarecrow’s fear toxin…and Batman just found him.

– “Working Through Pain” A glimpse into Batman/Bruce Wayne’s training as a young man in India.

– “Deadshot” Batman fights an assassin in the subways underneath Gotham.

All of these stories are much more interesting than I have described them.  I don’t want to say much because I knew nothing about Batman: Gotham Knight when I rented it and would like those who want to see it to have the same enjoyable experience I did.

What’s good about it?  Anime works really well for Batman because it’s a hybrid of comic book and film.  Some of the animation is absolutely breathtaking.  This is less of a cartoon than Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.  (It’s also cool that Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman from the 90’s Animated Series, provides Batman/Bruce Wayne’s voice once again.)  And because it’s Batman and not some crazy weird fantasy crap, it’s easy to follow.

What’s bad about it?  This is more in line with Batman Begins than it is Superfriends.  It’s dark.  It’s violent.  It’s bloody.  People die.  This is a hard PG-13, so if you’re looking for something upbeat, you’ll want to pass.

Perfect for: All those eagerly awaiting The Dark Knight.  This is the perfect little treat to tide you over until then.

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