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Batman: Year One
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When Gotham City is in desperate need of heroes, two men take a stand for justice…but on opposite sides. Bruce Wayne returns home after years abroad to become a crimefighter, just as honest cop Lt. James Gordon moves to Gotham and finds corruption at every level. When Bruce becomes the masked vigilante Batman, the city explodes as his new nemesis Catwoman, the mob and Gordon all close in! Don’t miss this thrilling DC Universe Animated Original Movie based on the groundbreaking story by Frank Miller and featuring Bryan Cranston, Ben McKenzie, Katee Sackhoff, Eliza Dushku, Alex Rocco and Jon Polito in its stellar voice cast. Experience a bold and dynamic vision of the Dark Knight’s first year in action and the start of his enduring friendship with Jim Gordon.
DC Universe's original animated movie takes on one of the most acclaimed texts among Batman fans: Frank Miller's Year One, which retold the Dark Knight's origins as a crime fighter from a decidedly hard-boiled point of view. The feature follows Miller's story arc faithfully, with young Bruce Wayne (voiced by Benjamin McKenzie of Southland) arriving in a vice-ridden Gotham with a decade's worth of martial arts training and a head full of vengeance over his parents' murder. At the same time, new police transfer Jim Gordon (Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad) settles into his job, where he discovers that the police are often worse than the criminals. What follows is an inversion of the traditional superhero story, with both men, ostensibly on the side of law and order, taking the business of saving Gotham into their own hands, with Gordon untangling the web of corruption around the city while Wayne, as Batman, adopts a more hands-on (read: violent pummeling) approach. The feature, codirected by Lauren Montgomery and Sam Liu (who previously shared helming duties on Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths), captures the visceral grit of Miller's take, but not the depth of character and story, which made the source material so rich. Exposition is delivered through cumbersome voice-over, while the plentiful action threatens to overwhelm the scant characterizations afforded by Tab Murphy's script. Casting is another mixed bag, with Cranston delivering Gordon's frustration and fury with skill, but McKenzie and Katee Sackhoff (as Sarah Essen, Gordon's lover and future wife) not quite striking the same balance. Striking the right combination of Miller's literary leanings in the original text with the visual elements required to keep an animated feature interesting is a formidable challenge, and one that the makers of Batman: Year One got only partially right.
Extras on the Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy set are typically plentiful, with featurettes and interviews giving an in-depth look into the origins and making of the film. Chief among these is the original short Catwoman, which pits the whip-wielding feline fatale (voiced by Eliza Dushku, who has a cameo in Year One) against a dangerous smuggler. As with its accompanying feature, the action is fast and frenetic, though scenes in a strip club make this definitely PG-13 material. Batman producer Michael Uslan is front and center for Conversations with DC Comics, which features the DC Entertainment team's thoughts on the Batman: Year One text and its long-reaching influences, while Heart of Vengeance looks at Miller's work and its impact on the comic marketplace. Liu, producer Alan Burnett, DC writer/editor Mike Carlin, and voice casting director Andrea Romano are featured on an info-heavy commentary track, while two episodes from Batman: The Animated Series, previews for previous releases, and a sneak peek at Justice League: Doom, the next feature from DCU, round out the sizable set. --Paul Gaita
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This movie is so dark I love it, it is what Batman is all about, it truly represents the down and dirty, gritty, filth of a big city it is almost as if the writer of Year One spent a few months in the underbelly of a major U.S.city, they managed to capture the essence of places we dont want to be cought alone.
This movie has a great story and many moments that have that sweet "shock" value...you will find yourself staring at the screen with your mouth open thinking: NO WAY! This movie has a great start, middle and finish that will leave you satisfied and wanting more, good thing they added a Catwoman short that also has the shock value in it but not as much as Year One.
One thing I didnt like was the character of Selina Kyle was changed I will not get into details to avoid spoiling this movie for you.
I highly recommend this movie specially if you are a DC fan or even if you just like superhero cartoons.
Being a huge fan of the title graphic novel , I was pleasantly surprised at how faithful the movie adaptation tracked with the original writing. Sure everything is not 100% the same, like certain scenes being extended (Selina's fight with a disguised Bruce Wayne), some cut short, and some minor dialogue changes - but everything is so close to the graphic novel in its presentation and style - you can tell that the producers truly wanted to honor Frank Miller's vision of Batman's beginnings.
ANIMATION: The animation of the film is very well done. The depictions of scenes on screen are practically taken out of the graphic novel and made a thing of motion. The colors have of course been adapted to be more visually appealing on screen, however the selection of color used allowed them to translate scenes to film without loosing the "feel" of grittiness. We watched the movie in Blu-Ray, and the animation picture quality was very crisp.
Though the animation is done very well, this movie lost some points from me due to the attempted "3-D" input which seems to plague many animated movies today. To explain what I am talking about: when a plane flies, or a car chase scene occurs, the animated pictures assumes more of a 3-D feel to it instead of remaining completely animated. I'm sure some individuals enjoy this, but I do not. To me, it takes me out of the movie and looks "cheap" even though I'm sure it was just an artistic choice by the producers.
ACTORS: I thought that the voice actors for this movie did a good job of portraying their characters, with one glaringly important exception: Ben Mckenzie as Batman/Bruce Wayne. In my opinion (and those that watched the movie with me) McKenzie was just not right for this roll. He did not "sound" like Batman. Granted, Batman is younger in this movie, but the edge to his voice, and the fire of someone that had dedicated his life to avenging his parents' murders was just not there. Additionally, some of the monologue lines presented by McKenzie practically sounded like they were being read instead of acted, it was as if there was no emotion behind them; even if the intent was to present a detached character, it still came across very hollow. Near the last 3/4 of the movie, McKenzie's presentation of BW/BM became a little better, but still left me wishing that they had cast someone more appropriate for the role.
CONCLUSION: "Batman: Year One" is a relatively short movie at just over an hour (64 minutes) but none of that hour is wasted - there is either character building, or plot-driven action during the entire movie - though I still wish it were longer. The production team has gone to great lengths to stay very faithful to the source material, so if you liked the "Batman: Year One" graphic novel, you will probably like this movie if for no other reason than to see the graphic novel brought to life. Why 3.5 stars? The voice acting by McKenzie really brought the movie down for me, and left me with a "meh" feeling that the other recent Batman movies never did; I think with the proper casting for BW/BM, I really would have loved this movie. Bottom line - if you are a Batman fan (like me), and think you would enjoy a cartoon-update depicting a "real world" grittier version of his crime-fighting beginnings, then you will probably enjoy watching this movie. My only recommendation would be to rent it before buying it due to the issues I noted.
The Catwoman short that's included on the DVD is also a lot of fun. You could see a Catwoman animated movie coming out of it.