I said in my review of All Star Superman that it isn’t for beginners, and I maintain that sentiment. But the thing about Batman: Year One, is that it is for beginners. If you’re wary of comics and animated superheroes but really liked the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy, Year One is where you should start.
The basic premise is that it chronicles Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon’s lives and experiences over Batman’s first year operating in Gotham City. At least, the comic is. The movie Batman: Year One shifts the focus almost entirely to Gordon. This isn’t a bad thing, and we still get some pretty cool Batman moments.
As Batman fights the mafia and street level crime, Gordon begins rooting out police corruption, cheats on his wife (who’s pregnant with their son James Jr. Who, well, gets his own storylines. *shudder*) Meanwhile, Batman’s path crosses with an emerging catburglar/ex hooker, Selina Kyle.
The Bruce/Selina stuff here is some of my favorite, because she’s trying to make a name for herself and can’t get out from under his shadow. It also has one of my favorite lines in any Batman story.
Alfred: Shall I get your tights sir?
Bruce: Never during the day Alfred!
Because the plot of Year One, is pretty straightforward, a lot hinges on the visuals and performances. Visually, we’ve got a anime inspired deal, and looks very cool, everything in shadows and shades of beige, with the occasional blue to accent things. It works. The action is well choreographed and smooth, and again plays with shades of light and dark. As for the performances, it’s hard to go wrong with Bryan Cranston as Gordon. Cranston’s so spectacularly talented. It took me a scene or two to unclench hearing his voice though, as I’ve been binging Breaking Bad pretty hard this week. There’s a sort of fun weirdness to Ben McKenzie as Bruce here, and only whetted my appetite for Gotham more. But McKenzie does a good job, he’s serious and gravelly. Eliza Dushku is Selina, and this is another one of those “coulda woulda shoulda,” in live action moments. She would have murdered that part. (In the good way.)
The DVD also includes a Showcase Short “Catwoman” in which Selina lifts a bunch of diamonds off some smugglers. It’s fun, action packed and sexually charged, which , I mean, yeah. I get the feeling if we ever get that Anne Hathaway Catwoman spin off movie it will feel a lot like this short.
Up next is Justice League: Doom, to which I can only say, “Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!”