Customer Reviews: Batman: Year One [Blu-ray]
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on October 12, 2011
So I am aware that posting reviews on these DC Warner Premiere titles is risky or precarious at best. The fans are quite knowledgeable and while some don't want a fluff review others are full of adoration for their favorite characters and want reviews that only say positive things. Having had the privelege to obtain and view the film a week before its planned release I am going to attempt to review the actual overall quality for those who are uncertain about making this purchase. While all opinions are obviously subjective I will try to state facts and point out any statements that are based more on my opinion to allow each individual to decide for themself.

Adaptation/Story: Overall this is an excellent adaptation, 10/10. The film follows the exact plot of the original Frank Miller graphic novel, and as has been stated in interviews with Bruce Timm and others, it doesn't leave any scenes out but some are added/very slightly rearranged. The added scenes, in my opinion, don't feel out of place. They are in tone with the original material and are also kept few and far between. Certain monologues/inner dialogues have been slightly changed or shortened but the essence of each is kept true to the source material.The story, needless to say, is fantastic and establishes Batman in a dark gritty world of realism, pure genius on the part of Frank Miller.

Note: Only a rewording of Bruce Wayne's opening monologue felt pointless to me, rather than saying he should've taken the train to be closer to the enemy he says from the plane he can't see the enemy. I feel his desire to be near the enemy was better felt with the original line. Sorry to nitpick.

Animation: Stunning 9/10. It is clean and crisp, which may seem contradictory to my next statement, they perfectly capture Mazzucchelli's gritty and realistic artwork and clearly let it drive the art direction of the film. It is well directed, with nearly every shot and design taken right from the graphic novel and having been brought to life, though Jim Gordon's jawline has been made slightly more defined. There is a wide array of fantastic color selection but still a muted tone that recalls the look of the graphic novel.

That said, my own personal preference for the fluid style of animation I was raised on (BTAS for example) leaves me feeling newer DC features often have a stiff/static feel to their animation no matter how beautiful it is, which is sometimes the case here. I've never been sure if this comes from intention in design, trying to emulate certain anime styles or if it has to do with budgetary constraints. In any case it isn't an issue for most and detracts little to nothing from the beauty and style of the animation. (For an example see the scene where Bruce Wayne kicks over the tree and how it falls over).

Voice Acting: Well done, 8/10 overall.

Eliza Dushku seemed an odd choice to me to play this version of Catwoman as she is caucasian and here Selina Kyle is African American (*several people have told me Selina isn't African American here, I seem to have made the same mistake I made with Luthor in Superman:TAS. I concede I was mistaken, nevertheless I still see her that way when I read the graphic novel or watch this, I always thought it added an interesting new dynamic). Dushku's voice work suits the character and brings real emotion, attitude and strength to Selina. She is able to flesh out the character surprisingly well given a short amount of screen time.

Bryan Cranston plays Jim Gordon. I am bias here as I am a huge fan of Cranston and his recent work on Breaking Bad, but I find him to portray Gordon as a relatable and likable man who is tough yet tired. Any occassional stiffness in his inner dialogues seems to be an intentional direction given by Andrea Romano and is faintly noticed at best.

Ben Mckenzie plays Bruce Wayne/Batman. I admit to being a fan of Mckenzie from my younger years watching The OC, but here I feel his voice seems out of place and somewhat forced, that's where voice acting loses points. It doesn't ruin my enjoyment of the film as a whole, and will likely grow on me over future viewings but his inner dialogues and monologues play very stale, especially the robotic opening dialogue, which had me concerned for the rest of the feature, but thankfully it levelled out as the film progressed and became more tolerable. The stiffness again seems to be partly an intentional choice but I feel a little more emotion could have been injected without risking oversentimentality.

Other voice actors do phenomenal work, Jeff Bennett and Grey Delisle are old pros while Katie Sackhoff and Jon Polito fit well into their characters. The only other misuse of voice besides Mckenzie, in my opinion, was Alex Rocco as Falcone/The Roman. I enjoy Rocco's voiceover on other series but he felt more like the voice of a thug than the boss of a high profile crime family.

Sound: 10/10. The score is used well and sparingly. This world is immersive and the sound effects are all realistic and chosen to enhance that immersive feeling. The final credits are amazing and really left me on a high, I hope all future titles incorporate panels from the source material into their closing credits, simply fantastic. The score over the final credits was also well done, a moody rock ballad, it felt like a Batman theme but was also reminiscent of the late 80's style, the era the story was first published and seems to be set in.

So overall I don't want to make this any longer than it has to be. It is a faithful adaptation, probably for my money the most faithfaul adaptation DC/Warner Premiere have done so far. I am bias as a huge Bat-fan but I place this and Batman: Under the Red Hood [Blu-ray] as the two best films so far, with Justice League: The New Frontier Special Edition [Blu-ray] coming in third. I would actually place this one above Red Hood only because I admire Frank Miller's story so much and find the world created to be so much more distinct and layered. With only 64 minutes of runtime this is a short film but an immersive one that merits repeat viewings, for me anyways.

I'll leave each reader up to their own decision based on this information but I say this is worth the money for fans of Batman or for fans of Frank Miller. Even better if you are a fan of both. I'm glad this time I wasn't disappointed. I also know that some question why so many of these releases have to feature Batman, why not some other DC heroes, but after seeing Year One pulled off this well I am personally hoping they attempt Batman: The Long Halloween in the near future.

Amazon's rating system is flawed, based on their five star system I love this film and give it 5 stars, if this was a rating out of 10 I would give an overall 9/10.

**For those, like myself, who once thought titles like The Long Halloween were an impossibility without butchering them for length there seems to be new hope. The upcoming adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns will be a two part production. If they do well we may yet see proper adaptations of Long Halloween and Dark Victory that are actually at the quality they deserve.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 23, 2011
- Bruce Wayne, pre-Batman: "I'm not ready. I have the means... the skill... But something's missing. I have to wait."

In 1987 Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli launched the "Year One" craze with their BATMAN: YEAR ONE arc, a gripping look back at the earliest days of Gotham City's most driven and pointy-eared vigilante. For my money and most everyone else's, this arc is near as monumental as Miller's THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. It's certainly more noirish, more real, told on a more intimate stage. In the wake of BATMAN: YEAR ONE, DC soon churned out BATGIRL: YEAR ONE, JUSTICE LEAGUE: YEAR ONE, TEEN TITANS: YEAR ONE... You get the picture. Even Dynamite Entertainment's jumped on the bandwagon with its SHERLOCK HOLMES: YEAR ONE volume. Point being, BATMAN: YEAR ONE is so influential that it absolutely deserves an animated feature adaptation.

After living abroad for twelve years, 25-year-old Bruce Wayne, Gotham City's richest, most eligible bachelor, has come home to begin his crimefighting career and to kick off his perceived life of hedonism. No need to go into Bruce's childhood past. We know what happened and how it influenced the course of his life. But it's fascinating to eyeball Bruce Wayne as a rank amateur, still finding his legs, still bumbling about. His first sortie out in the crime-infested streets doesn't go well.

Except that I think of this arc as Jim Gordon: Year One even more so than Batman: Year One. It's a pure revelation meeting a young and badass Lieutenant Gordon, newly arrived to Gotham and living down a rep in Chicago as a badge what ratted out his fellow cops. He gazes around his new city and his bleak mood grows bleaker as he soaks in the city's widespread corruption. If ever a town needed cleaning up...

Adding to the misery is that Gotham's Finest are mostly dirty, and Gordon is advised by a crooked Lieutenant that cooperation amongst the boys in blue is key for survival (wink wink, nudge nudge). This advice falls on deaf ears. Jim Gordon is a righteous law enforcer. I don't know that he's a righteous husband to his pregnant wife. Not when his colleague is the attractive Detective Sarah Essen, diligently working on his cases, quiet temptation on long legs and voiced by Katee Sackhoff. What follows makes Jim Gordon a flesh and blood person, adds grays to his character.

BATMAN: YEAR ONE is also about how our two main characters came to form an alliance, the cop and the vigilante, essentially two sides of the same coin. We note how their respective story arcs spiral into their inevitable meeting and their wary regard of each other and the origins of a relationship based on mutual dependency. The vigilante who is assured that there's at least one honest cop in GCPD; the cop who takes comfort in knowing that someone on the outside has got his back. And I'll leave it up to you whether Jim Gordon in the end has actually sussed out the Batman's true identity.

Crooked cops. Rampant racketeering. A soiled dove named Selina Kyle inspired by the Batman's costume and derring-do (and voiced by Eliza Dushku). An effective low keyed noirish tone. Told from the alternating perspectives of Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon. Both men get a chance to throw down. And while we're used to Batman's serving up all sorts of beatdowns, he's clearly not as polished, his moves and methods not yet perfected. It's unexpectedly thrilling to see Lt. Gordon claim vengeance on a crooked detective what had led an ambush on him. In a city of rampant lawlessness Gordon stands as an honorable but baaaaad mother. It's awesome watching him be this confident man of action, to see him dust off some martial arts moves. I love that while he doesn't talk smack, we're privy to what he's thinking. About to go toe to toe against a rival cop, he tosses him a bat and muses to himself: "It's been years since I had to take out a Green Beret. Even so, he deserves a handicap." Gordon proceeds to pwn the dirty cop.

BATMAN: YEAR ONE has a running time of 64 minutes which means that it's mostly lean, not much fat (you could argue that Selina Kyle's cameos are unnecessary, even if she was in Miller's source material). It's animated beautifully, but the only time I felt the artists were giving a nod to Mazzucchelli's style was when Wayne was in costume. Batman's visual design looks exactly how Mazzucchelli illustrated him. All in all, a laudable animated stab at one of the best Batman (and Jim Gordon) stories ever told.

The DC Showcase animated short (00:14:45 minutes running time) features Catwoman, again voiced by Eliza Dushku. It follows the pattern of previous DC Showcase shorts in that it is balls to the wall action, and the visuals are gorgeous and kinetic. But this isn't for the kids. There is implied nudity and, in pursuit of a pair of henchmen (they were shooting at a neighborhood cat), Catwoman ends up in a strip bar and takes a turn on the dance pole. Catwoman eventually comes face to face with the henchmen's boss, a vicious giant smuggler named Rough Cut. Theirs is a brutal rumble, with Catwoman receiving as good as she dishes out.

The DVD's other extras:

- JUSTICE LEAGUE: DOOM sneak peek (00:10:13 minutes long)
- ALL-STAR SUPERMAN sneak peek (00:10:45 minutes)
- GREEN LANTERN: EMERALD KNIGHTS sneak peek (00:11:36)
- trailer promoting the app for DC digital comics
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on March 16, 2016
I am not a Batman devotee, so I can't get too esoteric here, but I can say that I enjoyed this animated flick very much. I will probably go back and watch it many times. Early on, I was thinking that the James Gordon character was too one-dimensional, too much of a straight arrow... "Who wants gum?" he asks some kids he just saved from a criminal goon. I was getting worried, but then, later, the movie, and Gordon, too, gets pretty damn twisted and dark.This story is cool, because it follows Gordon's beginnings in Gotham, along with Bruce Wayne's emergence as Batman. Also, the CatWoman short that is included in this package is completely wonderful, in a PG-13 kind of way (but I wish they had gone R with it). I checked out the credits and watched the included documentary, and then I was amazed to see that Frank Miller (Sin City) had written the story (graphic novel/comic book) for this. Cool. I love Frank Miller; I'd like to get more animated stuff that has this same kind of noir tone to it, so I'd be open to any recommendations, either in the Batman area, or in the general animated noir genre. Hey, I told you I'm not a Batman expert.
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on November 25, 2011
I have to state the obvieous first, I am a hardcore Justice League fan, now that I have said that you will better understand my review.
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, 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" 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.
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on August 11, 2015
Absolutely awesome. You get the hardcover graphic novel, DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital copy for $15. You can't beat that. The discs are in a nice sleeve in the back of the hardcover. The Blu-Ray also includes special features. Miller's Year One is a must-read for anyone remotely interested in Batman
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on April 12, 2016
I choose this rating because the movie is good. What I like about the movie is that “From this moment on, none of you is safe.” (Batman) 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 three-time Emmy Award-winner Bryan Cranston, Ben McKenzie, Katee Sackhoff, Eliza Dushku and Alex Rocco 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. What I dislike about the movie is that I wanted to see more of it. I would recommend this movie to other people.
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on April 24, 2013
Adapted from Frank Miller's Batman #404 to #407 story arc. Of the two seminal arcs from Miller this one is probably darker in tone and action. The voice work for the most part is outstanding, but holding it back is Batman, played by Benjamin McKenzie. That's not to say it horrible, its just very monotone and there is very little in the way of character added, unlike Peter Weller in "The Dark Knight Returns" or Kevin Conroy in Batman: The Animated Series.
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on October 23, 2011
Very close to the original comic! Frank Miller's work brought to life with great animation and voice acting, I'm watching a second time to compare with the book, and it is worth it!
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on November 3, 2011
If you liked Batman: Year One in graphic novel form, you won't be disappointed. The voices are really very good. Including Ben McKenzie- I didn't think he'd be good, but he did a great job. I don't why anyone would ever doubt Andrea Romano's work. She is simply the best at getting the right voices.

The animation was great, and was very close to the source material.

I'm actually amazed they got almost the full story into the movie, given the short length.

Buy it, and be happy.
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on October 14, 2011
I've watched several of the DC animated features, but there have been two to date that adapted stories that I held near and dear in my younger days. The first -- the Death and Return of Superman -- was a huge departure from the original story, and while I understood the logic behind those changes, I found that movie to be a huge disappointment.

This one, however, gets much more right than wrong. I've read the source material hundreds of times, so of course there are some minor scenes here and there that I wanted to see brought to life. I was also a bit disappointed with they way McKenzie plays Bruce/Batman -- he sounds too robotic, though I think that was done intentionally to try to portray the tortured individual from the book. Other choices that stuck out mainly did so because they didn't fit what I've always had in my head for a particular character. For example, I've always imagined that Commissioner Loeb was intended to basically be Gordon Jump from WKRP, and Alex Rocco as the Roman just sounds way off. But, these are all minor, and I think this is as good of an adaptation as was possible without making a 4+ hour affair that recreates the original comics scene for scene. I'd probably still enjoy that, though).

I would imagine that a adaptation of Dark Knight Returns is coming down the road, and I'm excited to see how they pull that one off, too. I also would love to see Year Two made, though I suppose Mask of the Phantasm was already a pretty good version of that one.
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