Batman: Year One
Sam Liu, Lauren Montgomery
I almost always check out anything Marvel and DC has to offer in there animated Direct-to-DVD department. I've always been a Marvel guy my whole life and have pretty much been collecting comics on and off ever since I could read. But as far as the Direct-to-DVD stuff, I think DC has the upper hand. To this day I haven't seen a DC animated film I didn't like. Hell, even Wonder Woman kicked ass. But the Batman films are what really draw you in, depending on what story line or what part of the DC universe you follow. But this, this is something else entirely different. Deciding to base an animated film off of Frank Miller's dark and brilliant Year One storyline, the filmmakers have created probably the best DC animated flick to date.
What makes this film work more than the others is that more than anything, it's a dark detective noir with some action thrown in for good measure. This is adult stuff here, complete with graphic violence and language. What I think will surprise most people is that the story mainly revolves around a young Jim Gordon before his Commissioner days, excellently voiced by Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad). Here he plays him tough, weary and even a little violent. Making mistakes like everybody else and learning to live with them. I think the most fascinating for me was to learn that Austin, TX native Ben McKenzie (Southland, The O.C.) did the voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman in this one. I really dug the sound of Batman's voice and how unique it was this time out, but couldn't figure out who the hell it was until the credits. Even then I still can't believe it. I've seen McKenzie in a few things and would never have guessed that was him supplying the voice. Really great job from the entire cast including Alex Rocco as Falcone, Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse) as Catwoman and Kalee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) as Det. Esssen, the new girl on the beat.
If you usually don't make it a habit of checking these DC animated flicks out, I strongly recommend you do so with this one. It's completely different from any of the others they've offered up until now. For starters, there are no superheros here. Everybody has flaws, even Batman and more importantly Lieutenant Gordon. With a baby on the way, the guy makes some truly horrible and questionable decisions that come back to bite him in the ass. Batman/Bruce Wayne ain't no hero either. He's just starting out as a crime fighter and makes a multitude of mistakes along the way. He also can't seem to get anybody to think what he's doing is a good thing. Yea he's cleaning up the streets of Gotham, but he does it by breaking the law and the cops won't sit back and watch this vigilante do there job and break the law doing it.
Another plus is just how dark, bleak, violent and gritty this thing is. Using Frank Miller's (300, Sin City, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns) storyline was a brilliant idea and clocking in at a mere 64 minutes, it's as long and as short as it needs to be. There's no fluff to be found anywhere, just the essentials to keep the story moving along and some of the best animation to be found in any Direct-to-DVD flick to date.