DCUA 10th Anniversary Review – Batman: Gotham Knight

[Editor’s note: This review contains spoilers]

Directed By: Shoujirou Nishimi, Futoshi Higashide, Hiroshi Morioka, Yasuhiro Aoki, Yuichiro Hayashi, Toshiyuki Kubooka & Jong-Sik Nam

Written By: Jordan Goldberg, John Olson, Greg Rucka, David S. Goyer, Brian Azzarello & Alan Burnett

Starring: Kevin Conroy, Jim Meskimen & Ana Ortiz

Original Release Date: July 8, 2008

Summary

Batman: Gotham Knight is an anthology film featuring six short stories involving the Dark Knight loosely set in the time between Batman Begins & The Dark Knight. The first story, “Have I Got a Story For You” features a group of kids telling their various encounters with Batman and their unique interpretations of the character. “Crossfire” features Detectives Ramirez and Allen caught in the crossfire of a gang war between Maroni and the Russian. In “Field Test,” Bruce tries a new bullet deflecting device while trying to handle the gang war. In “In Darkness Dwells,” Batman faces Killer Croc and the Scarecrow. In “Working Through Pain,” Bruce is wounded by a bullet while flashbacks tell of training he received to deal with pain. In the final story, “Deadshot,” Deadshot is hired to assassinate Batman.

Positives

Of the six, my favorite is “Have I Got a Story For You” written by John Olson and directed by Shoujirou Nishimi. The concept of seeing Batman through the eyes of Gotham City citizens is really interesting, especially when its kids. I love the three different interpretations we get to see; they are all creative and visually interesting. I also love the Memento structure with the three stories telling Batman’s fight backwards. That was really fun. Additionally, the Gotham City landscapes are gorgeous. The city looks beautiful and I’m glad most of the story takes place during the day.

Visually, “Crossfire” written by Greg Rucka and directed by Futoshi Higashide, is my favorite. I love the character models and the backgrounds. The imagery of Batman walking through fire is some of my favorite Batman imagery I’ve ever seen; it’s incredible. Kevin Manthei also has some great music cues during that scene. It’s the best scene in the entire film.

Speaking of music, Christopher Drake’s opening theme in “In Darkness Dwells” rocks; I loved it. Robert Kral composed some great music in “Deadshot” as well.

“Working Through Pain” written by Brian Azzarello and directed by Toshiyuki Kubooka features some stellar colors. The segment is visually stunning.

I like the story connections throughout the film. Maroni and the Russian feature in a couple stories, as well as Detectives Ramirez and Allen. Certain elements are set up in one segment and then paid off in a later one; it’s well handled and structured.

I love the basic concept of this film. There is some time between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight so I like the idea of filling in that space with short stories that feature villains who, at the time, we never thought we would see in a live action film. I like the idea of telling a story in which Christian Bale’s Batman has to fight Deadshot and Killer Croc in a Nolan-inspired world.

Negatives

While the concept is cool, there is an element of trying to have your cake and eat it too. The film is obviously inspired by Nolan and it was promoted as being in that continuity. However, there is a lot that contradicts Nolan’s films and the creative team have made it clear that the film is not necessarily canon. I wish it was one or the other. It tries to be both in continuity and its own thing at the same time which doesn’t quite work. The film even directly mentions the events of Batman Begins a couple of times. I think the film could have had more fun if it either was completely inspired by Nolan or entirely its own thing.

There are a couple of segments in which I don’t love the character models. It’s a style preference but I don’t really like the designs in “Have I Got a Story For You” or “In Darkness Dwells.” Another design problem is Bruce Wayne. They’re obviously trying to make him look young like Christian Bale, but the design does not fit Kevin Conroy at all. Once the costume is on, it works but Conroy’s voice is awkward coming out of Bruce.

I’m not in love with the film’s version of Deadshot. He’s mostly fine, but the end just ruins it. Once Batman has him cornered, Floyd immediately starts begging for his life and gives away who hired him. Deadshot is a sniveling coward; I don’t buy that scene at all.

Not every segment works for me. “Field Test” and “In Darkness Dwells” are both pretty dull. I have a hard time even making it to the final two segments because the middle two nearly put me to sleep. The movie unfortunately loses steam because of this.

 

Verdict

This is an okay film and a bit of a mixed bag. Of the six, four of the shorts work. They’re not great but they can be cool and interesting. The middle two kill a lot of my enjoyment. Those segments aren’t even horrible; I just think they’re both kind of bland. “Have I Got a Story For You” has the best script and “Crossfire” is my favorite visually. There’s definitely stuff worth checking out but there’s a lot that doesn’t work.

 

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Sean Blumenshine

I am currently a senior at Wichita State University studying communications. I started reading comics in 2013 because of how much I loved Man of Steel and season one of Arrow. My favorite hero is the Green Arrow and my favorite villain is the Joker.