When Warner/DC announced an animated movie based on Frank Miller's seminal 1987 Batman comic origin story late last year, yours truly went into a state of geek induced fanboy ecstasy. You see Miller's one two punch of Batman: Year One and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986) are the cornerstone of modern Batman stories and my personal favorites. They are hallowed ground in the realm of Batman mythos. Now Batman Year One The Animated Movie is upon us. Does it deliver?
First off, for those of you that have no clue what Batman Year One is about stop reading this right now. Just click back on your browsers, get up, go find a nice wall, preferably brick, and go ram your heads into it. That is what you deserve for being so clueless as to the greatness that is Frank Miller's Batman Year One. It's one of the thematic templates on which many Batman stories of the last quarter century, including Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins have been modeled upon. After the brick wall has finished having it's way with you, do yourselves a favor and go and pick up a copy of the graphic novel and while you're at it pick up Batman: The Dark Knight Returns as well. Don't any of you lazy fucks go reading the Wikipedia entry on it either. After reading it, come back here and finish this post. Trust me, from your comments below, I'll know if you read it or not. You call yourselves...geeks. You disgust me.
Anyway, I digress. Now onto to the flick. Is it worth it? MEH.
In terms of staying true to the source material it certainly does a good job but to the point of detriment. It is so faithful, that fans of the orignal may find themselves bored. For newbies, I'd say read the orignal first prior to seeing this adaptation. Scenes are like panels out of the comic. Dialogue is word for word. All the major beats are there, Lieutenant Gordon's story, Bruce Wayne's first adventure(s) as Batman, the introduction of Catwoman, the corruption in Gotham City. it's all there. But it lacks soul. It really doesn't have it's own identity. It does an admirable job of presenting the static nature of the comic in a dynamic way but there's not much else. This saddens me.
There is a lot of talent behind this production. Bruce Timm is the executive producer, who I'd say knows a thing or two about the Dark Knight considering his Batman: The Animated Series is the considered one the best adaptations of the Bat...ever. The voice talent (for the most part) is stellar. Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad is excellently cast as Jim Gordon, who's story this really is. Cranston's owns the role. But that should not surprise anyone. Wait, what was that? You don't watch Breaking Bad? Just end yourselves right now. It doesn't matter that you won't find out who wins Dancing With The Stars this season, you don't deserve to exist. Next is a double dose of geekgasm in the form of Eliza (Faith from Buffy) Dushku as Selina Kyle/Catwoman and Katie (Starbuck) Sackhoff as Sarah Essen, both of whom are relegated to supporting status. Lastly is the unfortunately miscast Ben "Who the fuck is that??" Mckenzie (The O.C., Southland) as young Bruce Wayne/Batman. For this role someone with much more gravitas was needed and Ben never sold me on the idea that he was a younger Bruce let alone Batman.
I really wanted to love the movie, but found myself feeling rather blah after watching it. It's not bad nor particularly very good. It is simply a serviceable telling of an iconic story. Perhaps the producers didn't want to chance it by tampering with one of the comic world's sacred cows. Maybe the right choice would have been not to tamper with it...at all. Who knows?
I may end up watching it again at which point my view may change, but I doubt it. I do hope that DC/Warner and the producers learn from their mistakes while preparing for next year's two part Batman The Dark Knight Returns animated movie. That one better be perfect.
Now to get my real Dark Knight fix, I'll go back to playing Batman Arkham City.
Let me know your thoughts below (only if you think Chaz Buono will win Dancing With The Stars).