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Review: Batman: Year One Blu-ray/DVD

The highly regarded comic of Batman in his early days is made into a movie. Can the filmmakers really capture the essence of the story?

There are few comic book stories that stand out as being one of the all-time greats. Batman: Year One is one of those. Batman has gone been depicted in numerous ways since his debut back in 1939. It was Frank Miller's story in 1988, depicting his beginnings that firmly established who he was.

While truly a story worthy of being adapted into an animated feature, because of the high regard many have given it, expectations are raised prior to viewing. In order to try to lower any criticisms I might have, I made a point to avoid even looking at the comic again until after watching the movie.

The movie begins with both Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon coming to Gotham. For Bruce, he's been gone for twelve years (doing his training). Once he hits the streets, we see a Batman we're not used to. This Batman can get beat up by punks. It might not be what people are used to, but again, this is the story that told us how he became Batman. Ben McKenzie does a good job as Bruce Wayne and Batman (check out our interview with him at SDCC). There were some points I felt it was a little weak but overall, he captured the voice of young Batman. It's really Bryan Cranston as Gordon that shines here. And Gordon is a badass in the movie, as he should be.

== TEASER ==

The movie is pretty much a straight forward adaptation. Speaking to Bruce Timm last summer at San Diego Comic-Con, he mentioned that they didn't really cut anything and actually had to add a couple minor things. That being said, the movie is still short. It has a running time of 64 minutes. Granted the other features tend to run around 75 minutes but it still felt really short. To add to this, we get the 15 minute Catwoman short, written by Paul Dini and also featuring the voice of Eliza Dushku.

I did like the movie. I liked it quite a bit but I can't say I absolutely loved it. I cracked open my comics moments before writing this up to see how it compared. Yes, the movie practically is done scene by scene but there were some moments that simply felt off in the translation. It might be that after reading the story so often, it gets to that point where you have already established how you think it should be. It's not fair to the movie but that's the risk in adapting such a big comic story. I do have to say that the closing credits with original comic panels was a great touch.

The Catwoman feature takes things to a different level. It's not quite same Catwoman as she's further along in her career. She also has the Darwyn Cooke costume and you can easily say this short isn't for the kids. There is some violence and a scene at a strip club. If you want some heavy action, you're definitely going to find it in the short.

We had the recent announcement of the next animated feature, Justice League: Doom. There is a ten minute sneak peek on the Spring 2012 release and we get to see the storyboards and some early animated scenes. The movie will take the Tower of Babel storyline and feature the Legion of Doom, including Bane, Star Sapphire, Cheetah, Mirror Master and Vandal Savage. Of course the return of several of the voice actors adds to the anticipation.

Other features include sneak peeks for All-Star Superman and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights. Both of which have been seen before and obviously already available.

There is a twenty-three minute feature, Heart of Vengeance: Returning Batman to his Roots. It covers Batman's history, starting out violent and turning goofy and kid friendly in the 50s due to the Comics Code. After the Adam West show, the comic almost got canceled but the book took a darker turn in the 70s. Then of course it was Frank Miller with1986's Dark Knight Returns and then Batman: Year One that changed everything.

Another great feature is the thirty-nine minute Conversations With DC Comics. It features candid talk with Michael Uslan, Dan DiDio, Scott Snyder and Dennis O'Neil. They talk about what got them started in comics as well as continuity and if it's okay to mess with it.

There's the typical Bruce Timm's Top Picks which includes "Catwalk" from Batman: The Animated Series and "Cult of the Cat" from The New Batman Adventures.

If all that wasn't enough, you also get a digital copy of chapter one of Batman: Year One.

It's another good addition to the long line of successful DC Original Animated movies. I really liked it although due to my expectations, I can't say I loved it. We can breathe a sigh of relief that it was done properly. This is an important story in Batman's mythos and it's a movie that anyone can watch without needing to be aware of years of history. Of course it would be great to see an original movie dealing with other characters but the reality is Batman sells. He is pretty dang cool after all. The Blu-ray/DVD is officially on sale October 18.

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Posted by Daveyo520

While I have a problem with the voice it should be a good watch.

Posted by EdwardWindsor

I cant wait for this , i imagine it wont be spot on bu tif it captures half of the novel its still gonna be good enough for me.

Online
Posted by G-Man
Staff
Posted by EdwardWindsor

@G-Man: Perfect , should be good then. I imagine the drugs, some of Selinas strolling about in her flat where removed for a more kid friendly realese. Thanks for the link

Online
Posted by comicdude23

Will be amazing.

Posted by G-Man

Here's the video interviews so you don't have to search for them if you're interested.

Staff
Posted by mikeclark1982

it has been out on zune marketplace since tuesday!

Posted by G-Man

@mikeclark1982: Last sentence mentions the Blu-ray release. It was released early digitally. Not sure if that includes all the special features and the Catwoman short.

Staff
Posted by shiro11

The voice acting was surprisingly very good, it's nice to not always have Conroy.

Posted by NightFang

@Daveyo520 said:

While I have a problem with the voice it should be a good watch.

The only good Batman voice actors are Kevin Conroy and Bruce Greenwood, but the movie still is pretty good.

Posted by Daveyo520

@NightFang: yup

Edited by wane88

The most interesting character in this film was Jim Gordon. I only wish they spent more time developing his relationship with Batman like in Nolan's Batman Begins.

Posted by mikeclark1982

@G-Man: oh. for that, i would not know. i do not think the catwoman short is available

Posted by KainScion

it kinda sucked. horrible voice for batman. and it's mostly about gordon. i know it's like the comic but, i personally think they should have done another story, like no man's land.

Edited by entropy_aegis

@wane88 said:

The most interesting character in this film was Jim Gordon. I only wish they spent more time developing his relationship with Batman like in Nolan's Batman Begins.

Gordon was the only one who got any development in this period,this was a waste of time,just as underwhelming as i expected and quite redundant after Mask of the Phantasm and Batman Begins(both of these topped Year One even when it came to the police chase scene).Year One may have had massive impact back in the day but it's dated and a rather average story.This was for the hardcore batfans and crime fiction lovers.

On a sidenote i did'nt really find the voice acting to be bad but Bruce's internal never clicked for me personally, aside from the bat crashing in to his window scene ofcourse.A problem which i've had with the story since i first read it so i can't really fault the movie here.

Posted by higher_evolutionary
@entropy_aegis said:

@wane88 said:

The most interesting character in this film was Jim Gordon. I only wish they spent more time developing his relationship with Batman like in Nolan's Batman Begins.

Gordon was the only one who got any development in this period,this was a waste of time,just as underwhelming as i expected and quite redundant after Mask of the Phantasm and Batman Begins(both of these topped Year One even when it came to the police chase scene).Year One may have had massive impact back in the day but it's dated and a rather average story.This was for the hardcore batfans and crime fiction lovers.

On a sidenote i did'nt really find the voice acting to be bad but Bruce's internal never clicked for me personally, aside from the bat crashing in to his window scene ofcourse.A problem which i've had with the story since i first read it so i can't really fault the movie here.

couldnt agree more
Posted by JoeyF

Watched this last night -- I thought it was fantastic!

Staff
Posted by maxicere

i love this movie. Gordon rocks!!

Posted by Bestostero

I'm not feeling the voice actor for Bruce... it doesn't feel right, but maybe that will change once I see the whole movie...

I am READY for October 18!!!!

Posted by BritishMonkey

this looks pretty good, wouldn't mind seeing it

and catwoman in a strip club looking very revealing, oh my...

Posted by 0zymandias

@BritishMonkey: I've seen the movie, it's nothing to get excited about.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Definitely look forward to this.

Posted by elayem98

@NightFang said:

@Daveyo520 said:

While I have a problem with the voice it should be a good watch.

The only good Batman voice actors are Kevin Conroy and Bruce Greenwood, but the movie still is pretty good.

I liked this batman voice better than greenwood, although obviously not as good as conroy. greenwood sounds old, and also too forced like christian bale's batman voice.

Posted by Neverpraying

I pre-ordered the movie awhile back because I could be not pass up a Batman movie.

Posted by NixonV3

They should of called this movie GORDON: YEAR ONE, because that's what the whole movie is about. Batman gets 0 to little face time and you hardly see any backstory to him. The movie feels half-assed and pointless due to the fact that it doesn't lead or go anywhere nothing really happens except batman shows up and gordon moves up through the ranks, the story literally goes nowhere. It's like the creators got so swept away with Gordon that they forgot the other half of the movie with batman. There is no climax to the movie it is a dead end and a big disappointment.

Posted by goldenkey

I thought it was done as well as it could have been done and I loved it. I liked the little changes like instead of Bruce breaking his had cuffs. The extended fight between him and Catwoman, it was great, so great. The narraration was fantastic, it was just so well done and the style was done great too. I keep hearing that DKR is in the future and this I dread unless it's a 2 or 3 parter because it's waaaaaaaaay to long to be done in an hour.

Posted by Sammo21

I enjoyed the film. Maybe it has just been that long since I've read my hardcover B:Y1, but this really is a Jim Gordon story more than a Batman/Bruce Wayne story.

Personally, I'd love to see a 2-3 hour Knightfall trilogy in animated format...just update some of the stuff and I think it would be awesome.

Posted by Knight Train

This movie is perfect. The Best Batman movie ever. You may say that it is scene for scene, and that's true the scene's do play out in the same order, but it's definitely not shot for shot. Lauren Montgomery and Sam Liu do a great job at actually making it better than the comic. Yes the comic came first, but this movie is actually alot more subtle, the shots are better constructed and the dialogue is a whole lot better. Everyone should buy it, it's fantastic

Posted by Daggerman

Wait Bryan Cranston from breaking bad? holy crap! he does look like Gordon hahaha!

Posted by hitechlolife

Bryan Cranston was utterly inspired casting. I didn't mind Gordon getting so much focus as Cranston just kept nailing it.

Posted by Mbecks14

I'M SO EXCITED I WET MYSELF!

Posted by monkeyonurback_

can't get into ben mckenzie... it's not that i was expecting kevin conroy's voice i was just expecting something better... considering it's the first comic i ever read (or was read to me) maybe i just had expectations for it that couldn't really be reached

Posted by Knight Train

@monkeyonurback_: if you watch the movie you'll see that he does a great job of capturing the younger amateur spirit of Batman. He plays the three sides perfectly: the bat, the playboy and the orphan.

Posted by They Killed Cap!

looking foward to this...

Posted by The Stegman

that first video of Bruce Wayne playboy was HILARIOUS, see, Batman can be funny when he wants to be!

Online
Posted by Grim

@G-Man said:

@mikeclark1982: Last sentence mentions the Blu-ray release. It was released early digitally. Not sure if that includes all the special features and the Catwoman short.

itunes and xbox both say "with extras"... but knowing i was going to buy the bluray when it came out, i just found the movie online. lol im not sure what WB was thinking giving a film to the internet like that...

Posted by The Impersonator

Batman is always cool.

Posted by joshmightbe

Anyone else notice that this movie was more about Gordon than Batman, I'm not complaining it was nice to see him get some spotlight it was just odd having Batman basically being a secondary character in a movie with his name in the title

Posted by wane88

@joshmightbe: Yeah, it was weird but it's not the first time DC has done this. Batman had even less screen time in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. What made it work in SB:A was that he was bad ass with the limited time they gave him, in my opinion of course.

Posted by AgentOtaku

Excellent write-up! Exactly what I was lookin' for and will now buy for sure. Thanks!

Posted by spikevalentine

@0zymandias: I saw the movie too, I think it is one of the best Batman movies of all time!!!

Posted by ZoddGuts

Only problem I had with the animated movie was Bruce's voice and Catwoman's involvement which I felt added just for fanservice. She really didn't add much to the movie. She was just "grr Why Batman getting all the attention! grr"

Posted by Eyz

This is finally out? FINALLY!! AWESOME!!

This reminds me how much the DCnU redesigned costumes are bad. I mean look at Bats overly detailed and charged in design costume was in his new "Year One" on the pages of JL #1...

And for those crying about Catwoman involvement in here? Well she already was in the comic book version of this story. There!

Posted by abiotic

i think i'll buy this one.

Posted by entropy_aegis

@NixonV3 said:

They should of called this movie GORDON: YEAR ONE, because that's what the whole movie is about. Batman gets 0 to little face time and you hardly see any backstory to him. The movie feels half-assed and pointless due to the fact that it doesn't lead or go anywhere nothing really happens except batman shows up and gordon moves up through the ranks, the story literally goes nowhere. It's like the creators got so swept away with Gordon that they forgot the other half of the movie with batman. There is no climax to the movie it is a dead end and a big disappointment.

The comic was just like that as well which is another reason why i dislike it,Year one was just about a good cop who meets a vigilnate.Like i said it's for hardcore crime fiction and Batman fans,not for guys who're looking for an overwhelming,mindblowing experience.

@wane88 said:

@joshmightbe: Yeah, it was weird but it's not the first time DC has done this. Batman had even less screen time in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. What made it work in SB:A was that he was bad ass with the limited time they gave him, in my opinion of course.

And Red Hood and Public Enemies,Batman was more of a central character in Crisis on 2 earths then he has been in his movies with his name written on them .

Posted by shiro11

I am surprised to hear some complain about how this is too crime fiction to them. What I always loved about year one was how realistic it made the origin of Batman. It gave Gordon depth and grounded Batman. Gordon wasn't just a good cop in a bad city he was human he made mistakes. While Batman was also human, he could easily get taken down by average burglars if he wasn't careful.

Maybe cause I actually read the comic I didn't expect to see the joker or the batmobile or some over the top action movie.

Posted by christopherwalken

It looks good to me.

Edited by entropy_aegis

@shiro11 said:

I am surprised to hear some complain about how this is too crime fiction to them. What I always loved about year one was how realistic it made the origin of Batman. It gave Gordon depth and grounded Batman. Gordon wasn't just a good cop in a bad city he was human he made mistakes. While Batman was also human, he could easily get taken down by average burglars if he wasn't careful.

Maybe cause I actually read the comic I didn't expect to see the joker or the batmobile or some over the top action movie.

Hate grounded/realistic Batman who struggles against thugs, also Millers definition of grounded is moronic especially since his Batman kicked down a tree and faced Superman.

Joker,batmobile etc are deeply rooted in to the batmythos,and we get these after years of waiting so some nice action would be very appreciated.

Either way like i said previously,it's been done twice and better.The fact MOTP and BB topped even the police chase scene(easily the best part of Year:one) really makes this even more obsolete.

Posted by hellogan

A good quick fix for Batman lovers! However, I think it focused to much on Commissioner Gordon. You'll notice on the ending credits his voice over name is the first listed. Didn't have a problem with Catwoman appearing in it other than her really not having any significant role... And it really didn't make much sense when she attacked Bruce Wayne in the street. After he was clearly surrounded by and angry mob already. Not that he couldn't handle the situation. Other than to prove some kind of point. What? I don't know? lol

Definitely needed to be longer with a little more Bat than man in my opinion. I was impressed by the fact that they showed much that he was not invincible. Batman can get hurt, shot, whatever. But, he is a resilient fighter that doesn't give up.

Edited by entropy_aegis

@ZoddGuts said:

Only problem I had with the animated movie was Bruce's voice and Catwoman's involvement which I felt added just for fanservice. She really didn't add much to the movie. She was just "grr Why Batman getting all the attention! grr"

That's Millers perception of strong women,he barely gives them screen time and then has them complaining about it.

@hellogan said:

A good quick fix for Batman lovers! However, I think it focused to much on Commissioner Gordon. You'll notice on the ending credits his voice over name is the first listed. Didn't have a problem with Catwoman appearing in it other than her really not having any significant role... And it really didn't make much sense when she attacked Bruce Wayne in the street. After he was clearly surrounded by and angry mob already. Not that he couldn't handle the situation. Other than to prove some kind of point. What? I don't know? lol

Definitely needed to be longer with a little more Bat than man in my opinion. I was impressed by the fact that they showed much that he was not invincible. Batman can get hurt, shot, whatever. But, he is a resilient fighter that doesn't give up.

She attacked him when he pushed Holly.

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