Batman: Year One

  • Directed by Lauren Montgomery and Sam Liu
  • October 18, 2011

Voice Cast

  • Lt. James Gordon-Bryan Cranston
  • Bruce Wayne/Batman-Ben McKenzie
  • Selina Kyle/Catwoman-Eliza Dushku
  • Commissioner Gillian B. Loeb-Jon Polito
  • Carmine Falcone-Alex Rocco
  • Detective Sarah Essen-Katee Sackhof
  • Alfred Pennyworth-Jeff Bennett
  • Barbara Eileen Kean, Vicki Vale-Grey DeLisle
  • Harvey Dent-Robin Atkin Downes
  • Jefferson Skeevers-Keith Ferguson
  • Flass’s Attorney-Danny Jacobs
  • Officer Stanley “Stan” Merkel-Nick Jameson
  • Holly Robinson-Liliana Mumy
  • Louisa Falcone-Pat Musick
  • Lt. Branden-Stephen Root
  • Detective Arnold John Flass, Johnny Viti-Fred Tatasciore
  • Stan, Tom-Steve Blum

A wealthy playboy returns from years abroad just as a disillusioned cop joins the police force setting both on a path where their lives will become forever connected.

Batman: Year One is a film based off the DC comics story arc of the same name. It is an origin story for not only Batman but for the eventual Commissioner Gordon. It is a great piece of dramatic, character driven material especially in comparison to more recent superhero offerings. It is a dramatic presentation and not something done as a goof.

I will not call this film depressingly downbeat and dark but rather something extremely serious. Even think of it as a realistic animated Batman film if your realism includes a guy running around Gotham city with a cape and in tights.

While Batman: Year One hints at certain elements of the larger DC universe it doesn’t include them. There are no superpowered individuals. No aliens with shapeshifting or telepathic powers. No Amazonian princesses with lassos that compel one to speak the truth. There are nothing but dangerous humans here,

Bruce Wayne and by extension Batman is portrayed as cold and emotionless. He’s empty inside and perhaps that is how he is able to pull off the irresponsible playboy image with so many in the city. Ben McKenzie is fine in the moments as Wayne but fails to bring Kevin Conroy gravitas to the voice of Batman. He is more of a guy doing a Batman impression to be funny.

Gordon is an honest cop who after doing the right thing has lost a little faith in the system which he is tasked with upholding. And this good man has found himself in the worst possible place with a child on the way. Bryan Cranston is just great as Gordon. The animation helps sets things up but Cranston’s voice work helps drive it all home and gives the character a sense of complexity and realism not often seen in these films.

Gordon is no saint in this movie though. He begins an affair with Det. Essen who works with him on the taskforce created to catch Batman. However he is a person intelligent enough to face up to his flaws and confesses his affair to his wife when it becomes clear that it will be used as blackmail. That bit though really doesn’t amount to too much in the story. It could have been excised from the narrative. It was just an element that went nowhere. I’m not talking about the affair. I’m talking about the threat of blackmail. Why bring it up if it only factors into a pointless phonecall?

Batman: Year One also introduces Catwoman into the Batman universe. She appears to be a prostitute. Interactions with her teenage friend Holly seemingly confirming it for both. Serious stuff for any animated feature.

Catwoman tries to start a career as a thief, but she is not quite the master criminal that we know her to be. The press even seems dub her as Batman’s associate or can just generally confuse her with Batman much to her irritation. Her impact though on the story is rather minor. She provides moments of comic relief than of moving the story forward. Catwoman is not a joke.

Gotham is a cesspool of corruption from top to bottom. It reminds me very much of some of the stories I have heard about the New York City of the 60s and 70s. Gordon faces three main nemeses during the film: Commissioner Loeb, his partner Det. Flass, and Lt. Branden. All elements of the government.

Most of the animation here is hand drawn with some computer assistance. And though this film is several years old it still looks fantastic. It is done in a slight variation to the Batman: The Animated Series look which is quite possibly a high point in style for the Dark Knight.

For 64 minutes this is a very meaty story. There is a great deal going on in the film. There is witty dialogue, and you can genuinely get a good sense of the dynamic between not only Gordon and his wife but of all the characters.

Batman: Year One is a great piece of superhero drama. While it does have some action, it is more about the characters. This is yet one more of many fantastic DCAU films. I can’t recommend this one enough!

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DC Showcase: Catwoman

  • Directed by Lauren Montgomery
  • October 18, 2011

Voice Cast

  • Selina Kyle/Catwoman-Eliza Dushku
  • Rough Cut, Motorcycle Dude-John DiMaggio
  • Holly Robinson-Liliana Mumy
  • Moe-Kevin Michael Richardson
  • Buttermilk Skye-Tara Strong
  • Lily-Cree Summer

Catwoman saves a cat and must find out why a couple of thugs were trying to kill it.

Catwoman is a continuation of the story of Selina Kyle’s story begun in Batman: Year One. Some time has passed, and she appears to be a full-fledged jewel thief who is finally skilled at her craft. She also has a bit of a code of honor going on as she stands up to the assorted jerky forces of Gotham’s underworld during this short.

The scene in the strip club where Catwoman confronts Rough Cut is a fine bit of butt kicking action for the character. Catwoman is pursuing the criminal Rough Cut trying to figure out the what’s, where’s and when’s of Rough Cut’s scheme and how a random cat with a nice collar connects. She knows he is trafficking something, but the real shocker is what exactly.

The animation is great. The story is written by Batman: The Animated Series master Paul Dini. It’s a good yet short story that does not skimp on dialogue or character.

Catwoman is an animated short worth checking out if you get the Blu-ray of Batman: Year One. Do not though watch it first as you will be a little confused due to its connection.

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

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