“ Genre: Animation & Manga / Theatrical Release: 2008 / Director: Futoshi Higashide, Hiroshi Morioka, Yasuhiro Aoki, Toshiyuki Kubooka, Jong-Sik Nam / Actors: Kevin Conroy, Gary Dourdan, David McCallum, Kevin Michael Richardson, Jason Marsden ... / DVD released 2008-07-08 at Warner Home Video / Features of the DVD: Animated, Colour, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Batman: Gotham Knight is intended to act as a bridge between 2005's Batman Begins and sequel The Dark Knight. It consists of a series of 6 short animated tales (each around 12-15 minutes long) which examine different aspects of Batman's character, his relationship with Gotham's cops and his on-going mission to rid Gotham of crime.
It's an interesting idea and certainly the concept holds a lot of promise... promise which it ultimately fails to live up to. Each of the 6 stories are somewhat soulless and dry and all are completely separate, with no common theme running through them. On the one hand, this is a good idea, since you can choose how to watch them: all in one sitting or as small vignettes, watching one every so often? It's up to you. Similarly, you can watch them in any order you fancy, since none depends on events in the other.
Yet, this is lack of connectivity is also a major disadvantage. The Batman character (especially the recent Batman of the comics and Christopher Nolan's big screen interpretation) doesn't really lend itself to the short story format. The character is so complex with so many psychological elements that trying to summarise him in 15 minutes is a thankless and nigh-on impossible task. None of these episodes have the opportunity to tackle big issues and none really successfully get into the fractured, conflicted mind of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Batman works best as part of a longer tale and this collection is crying out for an overarching theme which links each of the individual episodes. Without that, the individual sections feel rather simplistic and empty.
It's not helped by the almost total lack of fan-favourite bad guys. Presumably this is due to copyright reasons and a desire to keep their powder dry for the films. OK, so one of the episodes features Killer Croc and (briefly) Scarecrow, but their appearances aren't terribly satisfactory. Other than the on-going appearance of mob boss Carmine Falcone and his thugs, there is no recognisable bad guy and that means that the episodes are all rather dull. Featuring artificially created bad guys, the lack of time to build them up and establish any sort of back story means that you just don't engage. I sat there throughout the whole DVD really not caring what happened to anyone.
The quality of the episodes is highly variable. Although none are great, the pick of the bunch is probably the first "Have I got a Story to Tell You", which sees a bunch of kids (who have all seen the Batman) comparing notes and coming up with wildly different versions of what he looks like and how he behaves. Although this idea has been done before, at least this segment attempts to do something a little different and there is a lot of fun to be had from seeing the different interpretations of the Batman realised.
Similarly, the final story, Deadshot benefits from an identifiable bad guy (the titular sniper) and a battle of wills and strength between the Dark Knight and his foe. Whilst it's nothing special, it does manage to pack quite a bit of action into its short 15 minute running time.
The trouble is these are the two best episodes, and they are only mediocre at best. The rest are pretty poor. Crossfire is probably the worst; a dull, routine story which sees two cops getting caught in the middle of a gun battle between rival gangs. This episode is turgid, pedestrian and barely worth watching. Its sole redeeming feature is that it is short.
Working Through Pain is a promising concept but suffers from the restrictions of a short film. Told in flashback, it examines how Batman learned to deal with pain (both physical and mental) in order to push his body to the limits. The episode contains some interesting ideas that would benefit from further, deeper consideration; but of course it is unable to develop them within the restrictive running time.
The other two tales- In Darkness Dwells and Field Test are just about passable, but really contain nothing memorable. You will have forgotten about them almost as soon as you have finished watching them.
On the plus side, the animation is generally of very good quality. I'm not really a big fan of the anime style that's been adopted for this collection and was initially uncertain whether it worked or not. Once I got used to it, however, it actually proved rather effective at capturing the sense of menace and threat that pervades Gotham. Character animation was fluid and the style was very easy on the eye, whilst at the same time capturing the Gothic darkness and grim sterility of Christopher Nolan's films. Indeed, whilst the style of the artwork was in many ways very different from Nolan's vision of Gotham and the traditional portrayal of Batman in the DC comics, it complemented them well.
The sound track is also impressive with full orchestral scores accompanying each of the episodes and capturing the epic scale of the battle between good and evil raging in Gotham. Like the visuals, the soundtrack complements the music heard in the the film, without slavishly copying it.
Sadly, the voice acting is more variable and of much lower quality overall. Obviously, the makers of this DVD couldn't afford the voice talents of the original actors, so have hired a range of voice actors. Some attempt to (badly) imitate their film counter-parts which is annoying and sounds awful. This is particularly noticeable in Field Test where one actor does an awful impression of Morgan Freeman (they should have got that guy from the More Than adverts!). In others, actors bring their own interpretation of the characters' voices. None of these worked for me and didn't catch the essence of the characters they were voicing. I realise that this is a personal thing, but I'm afraid the cast get null point from me.
It's also not helped by the fact that different actors are used for the same character across different episodes. Again, this simply reinforces how each episode has been made in isolation with no reference to each other. I found this deeply annoying since even amongst the main characters, the voice characterisation varied massively, with almost all failing to capture that essential menacing Batman growl.
Sadly, there's little to recommend this collection. A dull collection of tales with bad voice acting and few new ideas. Yes, it looks good and the score is impressive, but otherwise, it's a bit of a dead loss and simply proves that the short film format is not really suitable for a character as deep and complex as Batman. Let's hope the forthcoming Dark Knight Rises finishes the trilogy off with more style!
Batman: Gotham Knight
Running time: approx. 75 minutes
(c) Copyright SWSt 2012
Batman Gotham Knight is a series of 6 animated shorts which serve as fillers in between the two hit Batman reboot films Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, although it could be argued that this could fit under any Batman continuity. The films detail Bruce Wayne's ongoing struggles dealing with having just become the Batman, while trying balance his real life, his false playboy identity and the Batman, all the while battling Jonathan Crane "The Scarecrow", who is still at large from Begins, as well as crime bosses, and mercenary Deadshot.
The films all pretty much act as one story, more or less, but are separate enough to be watched by themseles. For example, the first story is about a group of kids who recount their experiences in having witnessed the Batman at work. They all have different views, one kid seeing him as a heavily armed mecha fighting robot, and another seeing him as a real bat (possibly a reference to Man-Bat).
The animation in this is really smooth, really well-flowing and perfect for a Batman cartoon. I like the transition from the usual Western animation to anime, too. It looks like it could be the sort of thing that could look really tacky and badly-done, but the animators made a great job making the whole thing look really good and very much like Batman. Sometimes, though, I don't really agree with how they drew Bruce Wayne. Like I said, it's an anime, and it really shows in Bruce in some of the shorts. They give him a thin, slender look and when he puts glasses on, most of the time he looks more like a teacher than anything else. But that's a pretty minor flaw for the whole thing. He is voiced by Kevin Conroy the whole time, who in my opinion is the best voice actor for Bruce, having appeared as him in most of the animated features (notably The Animated Series and the Arkham Asylum game)
The stories in themselves are pretty interesting, but I found it a bit too easy to get lost in what was happening, as if they tried to cram a bit too much into the shorts. The overall theme and ideas behind the plot got through but a lot of the time it seemed like things were happening without a great deal of reason. I don't know, maybe I wasn't paying a great deal of attention.
note: also appears in part on The Student Room
As with most major franchises, you have to have the odd spin-off, and the animated anthology Gotham Knight is just that. It bridges the gap between the two superb films Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, prior to Batman's encounter with The Joker and subsequently Two Face. However, it can pretty much slot anywhere in the Batman canon, as it never specifically addresses issues raised in either of Christopher Nolan's Batman films.
Throughout Gotham Knight, I always enjoyed the quality of the animation, but much like the similar anthology series, The Animatrix, I find myself somewhat dulled and disinterested by the majority of the plots of the episodes themselves, and they left my mind near enough the second after I stopped watching them. Thus, I'd only really recommend this if you're a huge Batman fan, because, unlike the Animatrix, there aren't any distinguishing animation styles between the stories, meaning what you see is what you get, and you may well become rather dulled after the first two or three stories. It's well produced, with some solid voice work and impressive animation, but it seems rather soulless, and something of a certain cash-in. Even as a huge fan of Nolan's films, this didn't really bowl me over.
Gotham Knight is well-animated with competent voiceover work, although the six stories lack stylistic deviation (as masterfully achieved in the Animatrix), and do little to bridge the gap between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, as advertised.
Fans of " The Matrix" will remember that between the first and second films "The Animatrix" was released direct to DVD. This DVD is quite similar to "The Animatrix".
The DVD was released after "Batman Begins" and before "The Dark night". It is essentially a series of six short stories from the world of Batman. Each of the stories has been directed by a different director. All of the directors are from Japan and so the six stories are all different styles of anime (japanese animation). Also there are six writers, one for each story, who are all western. This gives not only a new feel to anime but a new style to Batman in general. It is quite refreshing to see.
== The Stories ==
"Have I got a story for you" - The first story is written by Josh Olsen who was involved in the writing for "History of violence". The plot revolves around four young boys who meet in a skatepark. They each recount the events that have happened to them that day. Each boy has a different decription of what Batman looks like be it Half bat -half man , a robot or an actual vampire. They have all witnessed him fighting the same enemy but due to the mystery of Batman they have all seen him possibly how they wanted to rather than what he atually looked like. The story comes to an end with Batmans fight witht the enmey ending at the skaepark. The fourth boy sees Batman as he is , human. The story is brilliant. I was unsure when I bought the DVD what to expect. When I saw this first story I was amazed. I have seen and read many different Batman styles in my time but never anything like this. The story is perfect for the first you will see. The viewer is never seeing things from Batmans perspective and it is interesting to see how normal people in Gotham persieve him! The anime style is very cool. It is in a very similar style to some of "The Animatrix's" as it is made by the same studio. There is a movie called "Tekkonkinkreet" that is by the same studio that is closest in style to this anime. I was very impressed by this first story and was unsure if the other five would be as good.
"Crossfire". The second story is written by Greg Rucka who is a nteable Comic book and Graphic novel writer. The plot to this story revolves around the police force of Gotham and how they see Batman. Two cops from Commishioner Gordons unit disagree on how Gotham is benefiting from having Batman. One thinks Batman is causing more crime and is a vigilanty who is a criminal himself. The other disagrees and sees Batman as a hero and the saviour of Gotham. Unfortunately for the two cops they become stuck in the middle of a ganag war. Their car is smack bang in the middle of gunfire from the two gangs. Batman comes and saves them showing he is there to help! I enjoyed this story too. I think it is a great change of pace to see Batman through other peoples eyes. I also think it is needed to fully appreciate the newest movie! This anime was produced by "Production I. G" who are responsible for one of the most famous animes ever "Ghost in the shell". The animation fo this story is then much like that series however it is a lot darker to keep with the theme of Batman.
"Field Test" is the third story and is written by Jordan Goldberg. The plot is the first that is from Batmas perspective. We follow the trials of one of Batmans new gadgets. He and Alfrd are trying to manufacture an electro magnetic shield that is powerful enough to deflect bullets. Unfortunately whist testing it on enemys the gadget proves to work oo well. A bullet reflects off Batman and into another person injuring him. Batman realises he must put his own life on the line instead of using such a reckless gadget. The story is really to show how Batman is a hero and similar to Superman as he doesnt want to see anyone die, not even those that want to kill him. It was nice to get the story from Batmans eyes around this point in the DVD. As I have said it is nice too see things in a different way but no one wants too much of a good thing. The animation style is a little more conventional animation in the sence that it rsembles some Batman animations that are allready out. The production studio is "Bee train" who are known for their series ". hack" and "Tsubasa Chroniles". Overall this was a good story but slightly weaker than the previous two.
"In darkness dwells" is the fourth story and it is written by David Goyer who wrote "Batman Begins" along with a whole host of superhero movies like "Blade 2". The plot is connected to the first movie in some ays. After several attacks on people Batman is led to the sewers in his investigation of the events. He suspects the scarecrow and is proved right when he comes across killer croc in the swers who has been infected by scarecrows drug substance. You may remember this from the movie as it made people see hallucinations of terrible things. Batman defeats croc but get infected himself in the proces. He does however confront scarecrow in the sewers. I enjoyed the story ey much. It was good to have a link to the movie after its great sucess. It was also cool to ee some of the events that happened between the two movies! The animation is also ery good in this story. The production company "madhouse" were responsible for it and they have released animes like "deathnote" in the past.
" Working though pain" is the fith story and is written by Brian Azzarello who is another well known comic book writer. The plot is slightly different tot he others. The story starts with Batman in trouble. He is wounded and starts to remeber events from earlier in his life when he recieved special training on how to deal with pain. We learn that people hate those who are different like Batman and ultimately no one can really help him. He sees that he must use his pain to his advantage. The story highlights may of the ongoing themes in Batman. His solitary nature, fear of people and the fact that he is human and can be hurt. Whilst I wasn't on the edge of my seat for this story I still enjoyed the watch. Its a little bit slow but coming after and before two stories that are relatively high paced this does not matter too much. The story is produced byt the sma eteam that did the first story but there is a different director. It is similar in some ways but a more western animation style than the first story.
"Deadshot" is the last story of the DVD and is written by Alan Burnette who is the writer for Batman - the animated series. The story introduces us to a villian named Deadshot who is an assasin. He uses a sniper rifle and we first see him taking out an important political representative. He is then given the orders to kil James Gordon. Batman steps up to save the day agian and again goes though many emotions trying to understand his enemy and their casual nature when it comes to killing. This story worked the most like a actual anime episode than the others and was a good end to the DVD. The animation was again handled by "Madhouse" but with a different director. Again the animation was briliant as it is throught the entire DVD
== Voice talent ==
The same voice actors are responsible for the enitre DVD which is good as it does give continuity to a DVD with six different styles and writing! Kevin Conroy does the voice for Batman asn I much prefer his voice to Chritian Bale. I find Bale tries to hard when he puts on a Batman voice and Conroy seems to be natural at it. This probably comes from his experiance from playing Batman in many animated series though the years. There are also a few animated Batman movies which Conroy has provided the voice of Batman for. Will Fridle who some of you may remember from "Boy meets world" also does some voice talent for various roles thoughout the DVD. He played Batman in the animated series Batman of the future and has a decent anime voice. Jason Marsden too provides aditional voices and he too has much experiance in voice acting. overall I found the English voice acting to be very good. Considering the script is western it makes sence to use western actors. Sometimes I find English dubs of anime doesnt work in the slightest but the directors all stayed clear of cheesy American voices and stuck close to the dark theme of Batman.
== Animation ==
Just a quick word ont he animation in general. It is very hard to compare the different styles as they are all fantasic and everyone will have their own opinions. There is a great mix of styles but the colour themems remain the same. I found it a joy to watch and obviously a lot of top animators had worked on the DVD. It will be good for those not too familiar with anime. Seeing these unique styles of animation will be a totally new experiance and will impress you. Also if you are going to buy this on Blu-ray of Hd DVD then the experiance will be truly awesome. Such high definition will make everything look fantastic and if you own a full HD tv and a DVD player capable of Hd then buy this now! I have watched it in Bluray but do not own it.
== Music ==
There is an original score to the DVD handled by a few different composers. The music however has undertones of familiar themes from the original movies and the more recent ones. This all works well together as it brings in new music whilst retaining the feel of Batman we have grown accustomed too through his lifespan.
== Price ==
I bought my copy for £10 around the time the dark night movie came out. I can only think it was reasonably more expensive then due to the popularity of the movie. I also noticed a bundle of Batman begins and this DVD. That was around £20 but I can only expect the price to plummet towards christmas. I expect when the most recent movie is released on DVD there will be more boxsets. Also however you usually find DVD's like this will be put on sale when others of the same genre are released. I suggest waiting till christmas and you will pick it up for £5 which is worth it. The only special feature is audio commentrys from the various key players in the making of the DVD. This is interesting but the DVD could have used more if it wanted to retain the £10 value.
== Final thought ==
A fantasic DVD and a must have for all Batman fans. Those who dont consider themselves fans of Batman but enjoyed Batman Begins or the dark night will also love this DVD as it is very similar to the two movies. As I have said you need to wait a bit for it to go down in price but when it does this is a very good DVD that would look good in anyones collection.
Given the calibre of the scribbling talent involved in this Animatrix-style production (David S. Goyer and History Of Violence's Josh Olsen, amongst them), the writing, particularly in the first half hour, is fairly shocking. However, so striking are the array of visual styles utilised in this - the best animated Batman film thus far - that it is quite easy to overlook the shortcomings elsewhere. More so perhaps than even Christopher Nolan's fantastic live-action offerings, this captures the near-horror film intensity of the more adult-oriented graphic novels perfectly. This, too, is decidedly Mature Audiences, being bleak of tone and featuring some particularly vicious moments of violence. The film presents an array of alternate Batmen - all of them of the pseudo-Vampirish, dark and brooding variety - in a series of loosely-connected vigenettes, each helmed by a different anime director of note. The result is exhilarating and refreshing, particularly in the last half hour, when the writing rises to somewhere near the standard of the visuals.
So with the release of The Dark Knight, Warner Brothers have decided that what has worked for The Matrix could easily work again for The Dark Knight.
Batman: Gotham Knight consists of six animations, all 12 to 15 minutes in length that interlocks with each other and tell a story. It is set I the year between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight and tells the story of how Gotham City is changing and the Police are starting to win the street war that is still taking place between the organised crime syndicates and the Gotham City Police Department.
What we have is a number of Batman stories that are set in the Christopher Nolan universe that Nolan created for the two most recent Batman movies. Very dark and very moody in nature of the way the surroundings are portrayed. The style of the way the animations are presented has a Japanese feel to it. This is mainly because the five well known Anime directors and the Anime look adjusts to Batman very well. Each story has its own take on the Batman legacy and involves the story being told from different perspective and angles that would not normally be seen.
As I said before the Anime style works well with Batman and the animation is short and sharp which allows the story to be told in a minimalist fashion yet giving maximum impact to the viewer. This really does show in scenes as the details that have been placed into one shot whether the background is stationary of in motion is truly amazing. The episodes that showcases this the best would be 'Have I got a story for you' as the detail throughout looks like it has just been transferred from a graphic novel, that is the quality of these stories. In other stories there is very little dialogue said and the animation speaks for itself due to what is happening on screen, so we have various means of effectively communicating via different mediums within the animation itself.
Okay so this has been done before with The Animatrix, but that was a few years ago and was meant to be an introduction to the Matrix Trilogy as well as an origin story as well. What Batman: Gotham Knight does is to bridge the gap between Begins and The Dark Knight so you have some idea of where the film will be starting from and how the story has evolved without playing catch up or being confused as to the changes and introductions of any new characters.
The plot in each story is also a major variable as some concentrate on an issue and can be quite closed off and static in terms of where the story goes and other can be wise open and energised. In the case of 'Field Test' the story end abruptly as the point of the story has been reached and it's on to the next one. This is completely different 'Working through Pain' where Batman is being trained in India and we see violence in a remote village rather than in a City.
One of the best things about are the voice actors who have participated, first up is Kevin Conroy who has been the voice of the animated Batman since 1995, his deep, rough voice really does bring out the dark and moody personality to the hero himself. Naturally he also plays Bruce Wayne as well and changes his voice ever so slightly to play the millionaire business man.
Within the story we are introduced to a number of new characters, these include members of the Gotham Crime Unit, set up by a newly promoted Lt Jim Gordon. In fact they have a complete story to themselves that only feature Batman towards the end of it. This character is voiced by Gary Dourdan, Warwick from CSI. I was surprised to see his name in the credits, but I was even more surprised to see David McCallum playing Batman's trusty Butler Alfred.
All the main characters from the films are included in the episodes. From Batman and Alfred to Jim Gordon, even Scarecrow makes an appearance as well in one story, a story called 'In Darkness Dwells' where Batman is underground and comes up against Killer Croc whilst on the trail of Scarecrow. This episode along with 'Deadshot' and Crossfire are quite violent in nature as there is a lot of gunfire and an amount of gore, so for younger fans this wouldn't be suitable to watch. In fact 'Crossfire' deals with a number of questions surrounding Batman, such as trust, beliefs and methods he uses which all adds up to the story being told.
The first story 'Have I got a story for you' is told from the point of view of teenagers who have witnessed Batman in action. This was an interesting aspect to watch as the story unfolds as all have a different perception of the main character and tell the others what they saw. By the end of the story there is only one person out of the gang that hasn't seen Batman in action until the Skate Park, in which they all meet up, becomes the location for the final showdown between Batman and the criminal he is chasing. It is actually refreshing to see this one and the fact that it is placed at the beginning of the DVD allows the basic premise to be set up for the following stories.
Batman is shown in different variations of costume and build throughout each story yet continuity is not so much an issue as you are watching the story being told by different people anyway, so this is their chance to tell a story in their own unique way, so if we did see continuity being upheld then we might as well just have had one film without it being broken down at all. This is mainly down to the fact that each story has a different Director and have given it their personal touch, but I do have to admit seeing what we know as the normal character appearance changed to an appearance with a light Asian twist was quite strange. Typically intriguing are the individual stances that have been placed on how Gotham City looks, while in some the skyline looks like a normal metropolitan city, in others it resemble something out of Blade Runner, seeing Batman perched on status in this scene was just incredible.
Executive produced by Bruce Timm, who has been responsible for the character design on most of the DC Animated universe such as Justice League and Batman Beyond, this is a high quality animation. The fact that this is directed by six well noted Japanase directors has allowed the normal boundaries to be quashed with a veritable free for all in the style and manner of the story telling. The Directors involved in this project are Yasuhiro Aoki, Futoshi Higashide, Toshiyuki Kubooka , Hiroshi Morioka, Jong-Sik Nam and Shoujirou Nishimi. I have heard of a few of these, but found that if you Google the names then you get a better idea of who they actually are and what they have been involved in previously.
One thing that watching this has pointed out to me again is that Anime is a strong method of emphasising something in an animation and I think that this has just revitalised my interest in this type of animation.
Its interesting to note as to how this has been marketed, yes it has come out at the sae time as the second film, but it is available with Batman Begins in a Double Pack as well as in Blu-Ray as well. Price wise this starts at £7.99, not a bad price for the DVD to become part of your collection.