Hey folks, Valkor here. And what a way to start an interesting week – New York Comic Con is this weekend, which I'll be floating about checking out some cool panels, grabbing some Cosplay PerfectViews, and hanging with the stars, followed by the release of Batman Arkham City. And and to kick things off, let's check out Warner Home Video and DC's Animated Universe latest release, one that I was highly anticipating – Batman: Year One. Heads up, spoilers ahead!
Batman: Year One is the animated feature adaption of Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli's 1987 comic series (later released as a graphic novel) of the same name and it retells the tale of Bruce Wayne (Ben McKenzie), having just returned to Gotham City after being away for 12 years training himself for his true mission - taking out Gotham's criminal scum, which was set off the night his parents were killed. On Bruce's first night out (in disguise), he's nearly killed. But just before he kicks it, a lone bat flies through his window, resting on the bust of his father, which causes Bruce to make a decision that will not only change his world, but that of Gotham City.
At the same time of his arrival, Officer Jim Gordon (Bryan Cranston) makes the scene. Having left his previous post for outing a cop, he's setting up shop in Gotham City and quickly learns about the corruption that not only plagues the streets of Gotham but also within the police force, starting at the top with Commissioner Loeb (Jon Polito) and beyond (The Falcones). He not only has to deal with his over-the-top partner Flass (Fred Tatasciore), he must also come to terms with his wife over an affair he's having with Detective Essen (Katee Sackhoff) while his wife is pregnant. Plus some crazy lunatic is taking out bad guys dressed up as a bat.
The lives of these two individuals will come together when Batman goes after the Mob and Gordon looks to ultimately take down the corrupt cops, who are also mob connected. Expect appearances by Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Eliza Dushku), who's origin from the comic stays intact - she starts out as a hooker before she becomes the cat burglar we've grown to love (and fap to), and also pre-district attorney/Two-Face Harvey Dent (Robin Atkin Downes).
If you notice similarities between this film and Batman Begins… well you should! This is where Batman Begins got its inspiration and don't let anyone tell you different - THIS is where it truly began. And if Year One does well, please, PLEASE, for the love of Snapple, skip Year Two (fuck the Reaper) in favor of "The Long Halloween" and "Dark Victory"; clearly Year One is a direct influence in those books.
And now… on with the TOV Breakdown.
If you loved the comic series (and I don't know many who hated it), then it is a must you get this film, which stays very true to the source. The animation and backdrops are high quality, which takes the original artwork of the book and takes it to higher ground, adding more color and detail; character animation is fluid (wait until you see the fight between Bruce and Selina; it's quick but it's awesome) and Gotham City has never looked grittier. Now when I say the film stays true to the source, I mean it really stays true – nothing is watered down, with a few elements I would have thought to be taken out that are kept in. Like Holly (Liliana Mumy), who's a young prostitute, Gordon's affair, and the amount of blood and violence… clearly this isn't one for the kiddies - And I'm not hating on it. I enjoyed the narrations between Gordon and Wayne, (what I wanted in Superman/Batman Apocalypse), which helps to move things along and gives us insight to the characters motivations. Voice works is hit and miss, with the biggest hit being Bryan Cranston as Jim Gordon and Eliza Dushku as Selina; both portray their characters to the point of awesome. Clearly, Batman: Year One is the best comic book adaptation thus far!
And then we get to the voice miss in Ben McKenzie who is without a doubt the worst choice for Batman/Bruce Wayne. Sure there are elements of Kevin Conroy in his voice, but why not get Conroy? McKenzie, right from the jump, feels robotic, like you can hear him reading directly from the script. His voice simply doesn't flow. And the ending might turn some people off, but don't forget, this is a film based on a comic.
But just because McKenzie didn't do a great job, doesn't mean Batman: Year One isn't worth picking up. Without a doubt it's the perfect adaptation of a perfect comic book series that fans old and new will really enjoy. The film gets a single/double disc DVD and a blu ray combo pack release on Oct. 18th. And out of TOV 5 stars, I give Batman: Year One 4.5. Valkor Viewed and Approved? You better believe it!