DVD Review – Batman: Gotham Knight

I can’t see how this was proposed as an idea: let’s do a Batman version of The Animatrix, an anime anthology of separate but linked short stories about and around Batman. It’s not a natural choice, is it? There’s nothing organic about the process. And, after the excellent Batman: The Animated Series, the more recent The Batman, and his role in the Justice League cartoons, it’s not as if the world needs more animated Batman. But that has never stopped anybody before …

There are six stories, all directed in different visual styles, of varying interest. The first is some kids telling each other their versions of seeing the Batman in action, each seeing him in a different way. The second is about two Gotham officers, Crispus Allen (now The Spectre in the DCU) and Anna Ramirez (a female officer in The Dark Knight, although Greg Rucka, who wrote the screenplay for this story, said he wrote it more like Renee Montoya when she was in the Gotham PD) escorting a prisoner to the Narrows, and their intersection with Batman. The third is a very odd story about an electromagnetic device that repels bullets which Batman fields tests. This story seems the most out of place; it doesn’t feel like anything Bruce Wayne would do, ever. The fourth story involves Killer Croc (a Batman villain I’ve always thought a bit silly) under the influence of the Scarecrow’s toxins. The fifth is about a shot Batman hallucinating and remembering his original lessons about blocking out pain. The final story concerns Batman and the assassin, Deadshot, which was a pleasant surprise to see in this enterprise, linked to the film sequel as it is; you don’t expect to see such characters from the DCU in mainstream product.

There are some interesting writers working on this (Rucka, Brian Azzarello, David S Goyer) but all the stories originate from Jordan Goldberg, who turns out to have no previous writing experience and whose main credits are as assistant to Christopher Nolan on Batman Begins and associate producer on The Prestige and The Dark Knight. The stories aren’t special – they’re fairly non-descript and don’t do anything new or interesting with the character. I feel that, after the many stories that have been told about Batman in the comics, there should be something unique and worthwhile about the tale if it deserves to be told on film. I didn’t get that from watching this, which defeats the point.

Visually, the segments are intriguing but nothing world changing. As always with anime, there are some interesting uses of film speeds and unusual angles, but you have to be a long-term Batman fan to want to buy this, presumably for the novelty value of seeing their hero visualised in such unusual ways.

Rating: VID

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