There is an ad before the menu screen for “Batman: Year One” for a new video game called “Arkham City”. An unnerving voice over asks, “Have you ever considered this is all your fault?” The rest of the video game shows trying to defeat a plethora of old villains in a city that seems unable to be saved.
In “Batman: Year One” it is before Gotham has sunk that low. It is still described as hell, but it still appears as a city not unlike any other major metropolitan in the United States. Corruption plagues the police department and the politics. Violence and prostitution is routine after the sun goes down. Bruce Wayne (voice of Ben McKenzie) finally returns home with a new set of skills and a goal of what to do.
His parallel is Jim Gordon (voice of Bryan Cranston), a police detective who also knows how to throw a punch. Gordon’s narration is just as dark as Wayne’s view of the city. The noir wording fits because they are both characters who refuse to stop fighting regardless of how defeated they feel.
As the months go on, both men realize how they can accomplish their goals. For Bruce Wayne he recognizes the symbol he needs to strike fear. For Jim Gordon he finds out he is not alone.
The consequences start to have effect. As they try to stop the chaos, the chaos evolves. A greedy man in a suit like Carmine Falcone is easier to understand, but the creation of Batman leads to a new form of villain. Selina Kyle (voice of Eliza Dushku) becomes inspired by the slickness and the rogue attitude of Batman that she creates her own alter ego of Catwoman.
“Year One” is an origin story unlike any other origin story because it’s not optimistic. The use of the word “hero” is always dismissed by the man being labeled. These are men setting out what they think has to be done and perhaps by starting that they are creating a more dangerous world. There is no endgame in this story. Perhaps Gotham can never be saved.
The DC home videos always have a great set of bonus features. “Year One” only last an hour long, but it’s a fantastic story to own. They included another short starring Catwoman, which has plenty of seedy action but not much else. There are great sneak peaks at the upcoming “Justice League: Doom” and “Green Lantern: Emerald Knights” which aren’t just trailers. They sit down with the whole team to analyze the characters and the comic’s history. I don’t even know these characters very well and they always make me want to watch them. There is also a solid documentary talking about the importance of the original comic “Year One” in the character’s history and how it affected the live-action films. Also there are two full-animated episodes “hand picked by Bruce Timm”: “Batman the Animated Series” – “Catwalk” and “The New Batman Adventures” – “Cult of the Cat”.
I only wish they had more footage of this cast talking about the movie because Cranston does some amazing work. I would love to hear him and McKenzie talk about how they saw this story.
Film: 4.5 Yaps
Extras: 4 Yaps