{Film Review} Batman: Year One (2011)

 

 

 

Batman: Year One is an animated film released by DC and Warner Brothers Animation last year (gosh, it still feels weird saying that). It chronicles the transition of Bruce Wayne to Batman, and how Jim Gordon’s adjustments in his newly inhabited detective position in the Gotham Police Department. The movie is based on the four-part comic book series of the same name by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli (see previous post). It was co-directed by Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery, with the voices of Bryan Cranston, Ben McKenzie, Eliza Dushku, Jon Polito, Alex Rocco, Katee Sackhoff, and Jeff Bennet as Jim Gordon, Batman/Bruce Wayne, Selina, Commissioner Loeb, Falcone, Det. Essen, and Alfred the butler, respectively.

If you have read the comics, you would be delighted to know that the movie follows it faithfully. It’s like seeing how you imagined it all this time – well, it was for me, anyway. If you haven’t, fear not. This is a brilliant way to ease into the series (if you ever plan to) while also serving as a good background primer for the esteemed Dark Knight.

The story begins with two of the main characters entering Gotham City. Bruce Wayne is returning to his hometown after twelve years of staying abroad; The media is in a frenzy about the return of their charming and undeniably rich “native son”, as they call it. Jim Gordon, on the other hand, arrives quietly by train, with only a Detective Flass to greet him. Despite the stark contrast between Bruce’s and Jim’s welcomes, the two men share one thing in common: they do not really hold Gotham in their highest esteem. As both men struggle with their new lives, they learn some things you would only learn in a messed up city like Gotham.

I really liked how the movie stayed faithful to the graphic novel. It serves as a good companion to the series, and it doesn’t really matter if you read the book or not. This is as complete and true to the story as you could expect of any film adaptation. Despite that almost panel-by-panel animation, I couldn’t help but miss David Mazzucchelli’s vintage style. Still, this is a tiny scruff on a spotless film. If you haven’t read it in a while, you could watch this instead if you’re pressed for time. Whether you are a comic veteran or not, I am sure this movie would prove to be a delight.

In a nutshell…

Rating: 4/5
Runtime: 64 mins.
Released: 2011
Directors: Sam Liu, Lauren Montgomery
Writers: Bob Kane (creator), Frank Miller (original story), Tab Murphy (screenplay)
Executive Producers: Benjamin Melniker, Sam Register, Bruce W. Timm, Michael E. Uslan
Producer: Lauren Montgomery
Co-Producer: Alan Burnett
Music: Christopher Drake
Studio: Warner Bros. Animation, Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment
Spoken Language: English
Country of origin: United States of America
Genre: Animation, Action
Cast (voice):
Bryan Cranston – Jim Gordon
Ben McKenzie – Bruce Wayne/Batman
Eliza Dushku – Selina Kyle/Catwoman
Jon Polito – Commissioner Loeb
Alex Rocco – Carmine Falcone
Katee Sackhoff – Det. Sarah Essen
Jeff Bennett – Alfred the butler
Source: IMDb
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{Book Review} Batman: Year One

“A young Bruce Wayne has spent his adolescence and early adulthood, traveling the world so he could hone his body and mind into the perfect fighting and investigative machine. But now as he returns to Gotham City, he must find a way to focus his passion and bring justice to his city. Retracing Batman’s first attempts to fight injustice as a costumed vigilante, we watch as he chooses a guise of a giant bat, creates an early bond with a young Lieutenant James Gordon, inadvertently plays a role in the birth of Catwoman, and helps to bring down a corrupt political system that infests Gotham.”*

I’m relatively new to comic book reading because of the scarcity of comic book stores here in the Philippines, but I got an opportunity to read this because I knew someone who had a copy and shared it with me. I really like this comic book because I always wondered how Batman started out. I mean, I knew how movie-wise, but really reading them on the actual comics they were based on is a whole other experience. There is also an animated movie of the same name released just this year. I haven’t watched it yet, but I heard it is faithful to the comic book.

You’ll find in Batman: Year One Batman at the infancy of his planning stage. Eighteen years after his parents’ death, the business empire heir thinks that he is now ready to “clean up a city that likes being dirty”, the infamous Gotham City. The city really needed a hero at this time since it was wrought with crime and danger everywhere. This book also chronicles the life of Lieutenant Gordon, a detective, after his arrival to Gotham City and his interactions with the Dark Knight.(view spoiler). I really liked the story since it provides a good, solid background for people who want to know more about Batman. This is the first comic book I’ve read that was written by Frank Miller, and I can’t wait to read more.

As I advanced through the pages, I couldn’t help but admire the graphics as well. I mean, it’s a comic book! I love the old-school feel of David Mazzucchelli’s illustrations, reminiscent of the superhero comic strips in the comic sections of newspapers that I religiously followed as a child.

Even if it’s more than two decades old, this book is a must-read for everyone, not just DC or Batman fans. It’s easy to follow for new comic book readers, and if I’m not mistaken, I think this comes first if the Batman comics were to be read chronologically. I’m seriously considering buying the physical version of this book, not the digital comics, and hopefully the 4 issues instead of the compilation. I don’t think it will come cheap though. Then again, for such a brilliant series, it deserves it. Let’s support the comics industry! Not much people buy anymore, and it would be a shame if the industry died out.

In a nutshell…
Rating: 5/5
Writer: Frank Miller
Illustrator: David Mazzucchelli
Colorist: Richmond Lewis
Letterer: Todd Klein
Publisher: DC Comics
Published: 1988, New York *originally published in single magazine form as Batman: Year One 1-4, (c) 1986-1987
Genre: Superhero