Batman Year One is an adaption of the bestselling Frank Miller series of the same name that tells the origin of two heroes of Gotham City. It is directed by Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery for Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment. Batman: TAS alumni Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett produced it.
Bruce Wayne (Benjamin McKenzie) returns from a long journey of training and preparation to honor a vow he made to his parents after they were murdered in cold blood. Meanwhile, James “Jim” Gordon (Bryan Cranston) returns to the Gotham City PD after a long exile caused by mysterious circumstances. They both have similar goals, yet they are worlds apart in their methods. At first, Bruce has an impromptu fight on a “scouting mission,” where he ends up stabbed, beaten, and finally shot, leading to the famous scene where a bat crashes through his window, thus beginning his journey as the Batman, the Dark Knight Detective. Gordon has to overcome both personal and professional obstacles to achieve his goals, where he’s hindered by the current Commissioner Loeb (Jon Polito), who takes his orders directly from crime boss Carmine Falcone (Alex Rocco). As Bruce increases his activity with Alfred’s (Jeff Bennett) help, Gordon develops an inappropriate relationship with his partner Sarah Essen (Katee Sackhoff) even as his wife Barbara (Grey DeLisle) is pregnant. Unbeknown to them, Catwoman (Eliza Dushku) waits in the wings.
This is one of the best DC animated features. It does an excellent job adapting the comic book true to form, however, I am glad the animators chose a more modern art style as opposed to the old pulp technique that is illustrated in the graphic novels. That would have been difficult to translate onto DVD. The tale of these two icons of the Detective Comics world brings a climax that is true to the comics, and true to the legend of the Batman.
My one problem with the film is Gordon gets more screen time than the Dark Knight. It would have been better if Batman had received the lion’s share of appearances. There have been side stories written that take place during this story arc that could have been utilized to give Batman a bit more screen time.
The voice cast is impressive. Both McKenzie and Cranston play their parts admirably, truly capturing their roles. To me, the breakout performance was Eliza Dushku as Selina Kyle. She did such an excellent job, I could see her performing the role in a live-action context.
Bottom line, this is an excellent adaption of Batman Year One and truly brings the comic book to life. I was impressed with both the talent and the execution.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence, foul language, sexual content.
FAVORITE QUOTE: Gordon is wasting his time.
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This post has been updated from a previous version.