33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
A Faithful Adaptation (4.5 stars),
This review is from: Batman: Year One (Single-Disc Edition) (DVD)
Along with The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One has generally been considered one of the finest achievements in comic book writing of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Warner Brothers has produced an extremely faithful animated adaptation of the comic book. For those who enjoyed the comic book or who are interested in a sophisticated Batman story, Batman: Year One will definitely be worth watching.
As I've already said, this is a VERY faithful adaptation of the classic comic book story. It is different from other recent adaptations such as Marvel's Planet Hulk or even DC's Justice League: The New Frontier, which changed some aspects of the original storylines and added a lot of dialogue. In Batman: Year One much of the dialogue from the comic book was imported more or less wholesale into the animated film.
The story may come as a bit of a surprise to those who are not familiar with it. Many have said that it should really be called Commissioner Gordon: Year One because the story focuses so heavily on the commissioner and how he reacted to the sudden appearance of the Dark Knight. It is therefore quite different from the more Bruce Wayne centered perspective taken in the movies and elsewhere. The approach to Batman taken in this film is among the more realistic. He has a few gadgets but nothing like the high-tech stuff that he totes around in most recent comic books and films. He gets bruised in his battles with everyday hoodlums and can't take out twenty guys at once the way he can in other storylines. The Dark Knight also makes mistakes both in his judgments and his relationships. He doesn't seem to know everything and be able to track every situation as he does in many Justice League stories. It is in short a more human and less super heroic Batman than the one we see in other places.
I was impressed by how Warner Brothers managed to translate the gritty realism of the Batman: Year One comic book into the film. They didn't spare any of the sordid details of Gotham life. The prostitution, the violence, and the corruption of the police are all depicted in the film. This is very much as it should be. Gotham City just wouldn't be Gotham City without them.
The production values for this brief (slightly over an hour) film were also excellent. The animation is beautifully done and captures some of David Mazzuchelli's artistic style from the comic books. All of the voice actors (Ben McKenzie as Batman, Bryan Cranston as Commissioner Gordon and Eliza Dushku as Catwoman) turn in solid performances although I don't know if I like McKenzie as Batman quite as much as I like Kevin Conroy's rendition in the video game. Nevertheless, the animation and voice performances make this a pleasure to watch.
Why only four and a half stars? Sometimes faithful adaptations can be TOO faithful. The animated version of Batman: Year One falls into this trap. I loved the comic book version and enjoyed the film. But perhaps because I had read the comic book already, I found the animated film to be missing an element of surprise and suspense. The film adaptation of Watchmen (which I also generally enjoyed) had a similar problem in my view. Despite this criticism, if you liked the comic or just want to see a good Batman story I would recommend watching Batman: Year One.