Batman: Year One (film)

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Batman: Year One
Batman- Year One Blu-Ray.jpg
Blu-ray cover
Directed by Sam Liu
Lauren Montgomery
Produced by Lauren Montgomery
Alan Burnett
Screenplay by Tab Murphy
Based on Batman: Year One 
by Frank Miller
David Mazzucchelli
Starring Bryan Cranston
Benjamin McKenzie
Eliza Dushku
Jon Polito
Alex Rocco
Katee Sackhoff
Music by Christopher Drake
Edited by Margaret Hou
Production
company
Distributed by Warner Home Video
Release dates
  • October 18, 2011 (2011-10-18)
Running time 64 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $3.5 million[1]
Box office $5,229,305[2]

Batman: Year One is a 2011 animated superhero film based on the four-issue story arc Batman: Year One printed in 1987. It premiered at Comic-Con on July 22 and was officially released October 18, 2011. The film was directed by Lauren Montgomery and Sam Liu.[3][4] It is the 12th film released under the DC Universe Animated Original Movies banner and was released on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital copy.[5]

Plot[edit]

Bruce Wayne returns home to Gotham City from training abroad in martial arts, man hunting, and science for the past 12 years, and James Gordon moves to Gotham with his pregnant wife, Barbara, after a transfer from Chicago. Both are swiftly acquainted with the corruption and violence of Gotham City, with Gordon witnessing his partner Detective Flass assaulting a teen for fun.

On a surveillance mission in the seedy East End, teenage prostitute Holly Robinson propositions a disguised Wayne. He is drawn into a brawl with her pimp and several prostitutes, including dominatrix Selina Kyle. One of the two reporting police officers shoot him without provocation and take him in their squad car, but a dazed and bleeding Bruce maneuvers his handcuffed hands in front of himself, and demands the police get out. The cops try to subdue him, but the ensuing struggle causes the police car to careen out of control, and flips. Bruce flees, but not before dragging the police to a safe distance. He reaches Wayne Manor barely alive and sits before his father’s bust, requesting guidance in his war on crime. A bat crashes through a window and settles on the bust, giving him inspiration.

Gordon works to rid corruption from the force, but on orders from Commissioner Gillian Loeb, several officers attack him, including Flass, who threatens Gordon’s pregnant wife. In revenge, Gordon tracks Flass down, beats and humiliates him, leaving him naked and handcuffed in the snow.

As Gordon becomes a minor celebrity for several brave acts, Batman strikes for the first time, attacking a group of thieves. Batman soon works up the ladder, even attacking Flass while he was accepting a bribe. After Batman interrupts a dinner party attended by many of Gotham’s corrupt politicians and crime bosses, including Carmine "The Roman" Falcone, Loeb orders Gordon to bring him in by any means necessary.

As Gordon tries in vain to catch him, Batman attacks Falcone, stripping him naked and tying him up in his bed after dumping his car in the river. Assistant district attorney Harvey Dent becomes Batman’s first ally.

Detective Sarah Essen suggests Wayne as a Batman suspect and she and Gordon witness Batman save an old woman from a runaway truck. Essen holds Batman at gunpoint, but Batman disarms her and flees to an abandoned building. Loeb fraudulently orders a bomb dropped on it, forcing Batman into the fortified basement. A trigger-happy SWAT team led by Branden is sent in, whom Batman attempts to trap in the basement. Branden manages to climb out of the trap through a collapsed chimney, and joins in the gun battle. Enraged as the team’s careless gunfire injures several people outside, Batman beats the team into submission. Using a device to attract the bats of his cave, Batman escapes amid the chaos. Selina Kyle, after witnessing him in action, dons a costume of her own to begin the life as costumed thief Catwoman.

Gordon has a brief affair with Essen, while Batman intimidates a drug dealer for information. The dealer goes to Gordon to testify against Flass, who is brought up on charges. Loeb blackmails Gordon with proof of his affair against pressing charges. After taking Barbara with him to investigate Wayne's connection to Batman, Gordon confesses the affair to her.

Batman sneaks into Falcone’s manor and overhears a plan against Gordon but is interrupted when Catwoman, hoping to build a reputation after her robberies were pinned on Batman, attacks Falcone and his bodyguards, aided by Batman. Identifying Falcone’s plan as the morning comes, the un-costumed Bruce leaves to help Gordon.

Gordon tries to rebuild the relationships with his family after Essen leaves Gotham. While leaving home, Gordon spots a motorcyclist enter his garage. Suspicious, Gordon enters to see Johnny Vitti (Falcone’s nephew) and his thugs holding his family hostage. Gordon realizes if he lets them go, they will most likely kill his wife and son. Therefore, Gordon shoots the thugs and chases Vitti, who has fled with the baby. Bruce Wayne, on a motorcycle, also rushes to chase Vitti. Gordon blows out Vitti's car tire on a bridge and the two fights, with Gordon losing his glasses, before Vitti and James Gordon Jr. fall over the side. Bruce leaps over the railing and saves the baby. Gordon realizes that he is standing before an unmasked Batman, but says that he is "practically blind without [his] glasses," and lets Bruce go.

Gordon and his wife start attending marriage counseling, and he ends with a final monologue: "It turns out that Flass is smarter than he looks, took notes on every little talk he had with Loeb" ... "there's a real panic on, somebody has threatened to poison the Gotham reservoir," who calls himself "The Joker." Gordon, standing on a rooftop, anticipates a friend coming, whom he believes able to help, implying it is Batman.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Producer Bruce Timm noted that the adaption of the film was relatively straightforward due to the cinematic nature of the original story arc. Bryan Cranston originally turned down the role as James Gordon because he was unfamiliar with both animation and classic comics. Cranston said "I wasn't aware of this level of storytelling in animation."[6]

Reception[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 86% based on reviews from 7 critics, with an average rating of 6.8 out of 10.[7]

An IGN review of the film, after its Comic-Con screening, praised the voice actors and concluded with, "This is real, serious adult entertainment that should satisfy longtime fans and newcomers as well."[4] Another review from IGN panned the film, describing it as "dead on arrival – a lifeless bore with stale voice work and a disjointed, sporadic narrative that was best kept on the pages of Frank Miller's stellar graphic novel."[8] Tommy Cook of Collider called the film a "faithful adaptation".[9] The A.V. Club gave the film an A-, saying "Batman: Year One is a stellar adaptation, copying Miller’s words and Mazzucchelli’s images almost verbatim at times." Concluding that, "It all recalls what it felt like to read Batman: Year One for the first time, and sense that this was a story that had always existed."[10]

Cinemacrazed criticized the short run time of the film as its main downfall.[11] James O'Ehley of SciFiMoviePage notes that the faithfulness to the source material works for and against the film, with voiceover and dialog slowing down the action, and he goes on to say how the animation could be bolder, the voices gruffer and the sound more stirring but that overall the film is better than other DC animated films.[12]

In an article for The Missing Slate discussing the influence of the comic version of Batman: Year One on film depictions of the Caped Crusader, Michael Dodd praised the casting of Bryan Cranston as Jim Gordon. Referencing Cranston's famous role as Walter White on Breaking Bad he argued that the choice of casting "truly encompassed the character's determination and downright badass attitude in the comic Year One".[13]

Home video[edit]

The DVD and Blu-ray release includes a short animated film titled Catwoman. In the film, Catwoman deals with the crime boss Rough Cut (voiced by John DiMaggio) while trying to stop a cargo shipment.[14] There is also a sneak peek for the film Justice League: Doom, two featurettes, a commentary, a digital comic book, two Batman: The Animated Series episodes, a standard edition of the film, and a high definition edition of the film.[5]

Trivia[edit]

Benjamin McKenzie would later go on to play James Gordon in TV series Gotham.

References[edit]

External links[edit]