Saturday, April 7, 2012

BAB Video Review -- Batman: Year One

Doug: To close the door on our "Batman: Year One" series, we thought we'd take a look at the DC Animated feature of the same name. This 2-disc special edition was released shortly before Christmas, 2011. The main feature runs just over an hour, and is basically a direct animated version of the mini-series. Much of the dialogue is the same, the scenes are near-duplicated, and there are few surprises. I don't say that as a negative; for one who enjoys that series, I had a good time seeing it "come to life". Here's a look at the title screen from the main disc:

It took me a little while to get used to a voice actor other than Kevin Conroy (who is excellent in that character, as most of us would agree). This Batman plays a little less threatening, a little less mysterious than Conroy's version from Batman: The Animated Series and its various later incarnations. But that's OK, as this is of course a younger Batman, one who is just finding his way. Most of the major scenes from the comic series play out exactly as they did in print, and I've included several screen shots -- feel free to compare them with our reviews of Batman #'s 404-407.

As you can see from the images above, the basic feel of David Mazzuchelli's art is preserved, although the linework is much more detailed, finer. The animation is smooth, although not 100% lifelike -- this is not CGI-motion, but rather a more traditional form. It plays well. Despite its looks, I would caution the casual viewer that the script is closer to what Frank Miller wrote in his Sin City stories. The main feature (and I'd assume the Catwoman featurette as well) is rated PG-13. There is adult language sprinkled throughout, and the scene early in the film in the East End plays a bit rougher than in print. I'll admit to saying "Whoa - say what?" out loud the first time I watched this. Totally caught me by surprise. I also did a big eyebrow-raise in the scene when Gordon and his wife pay Bruce Wayne a visit. You'll recall that Wayne is on a sofa with some supermodel-looking airhead. Wayne is wearing a short robe and apparently sipping champagne. As Gordon asks him a few questions, Wayne does a Sharon Stone-like leg uncrossing/recrossing. We don't see anything, but apparently Barbara Gordon got an eyeful!

That being said, there's quite a bit of sex in the Catwoman featurette. That cartoon is much shorter than the Batman feature, ending in around 14 minutes. It's a decent story, and showcases some nifty fight scenes. I've included a screen shot from a strip club to give you an idea of the "saltiness" of some of this show.

I am not a fan of the current costume worn by Catwoman; to be honest, I still like the long purple dress with the green trim that she wore a very long time ago!

As I mentioned, I received the 2-disc Special Edition. Below is a screen shot of the second disc's Special Features section:

I was happy to see a couple of episodes from the very Kevin Conroy series mentioned above. While neither is a favorite -- there are far too many good and memorable episodes from those series to have really nailed it for every consumer -- they are both solid representations of Catwoman adventures.

So, I would recommend this to you if you liked the print version of the "Year One" story. If you're a collector, then by all means buy it. However, if it's still On Demand on your cable system or you have some other means to rent it, that would also be a few bucks well-spent. You can easily get through all of the material included in under three hours -- around the time you'd spend at many a feature-length film at the theater these days. I'm glad I own it -- I'll come back to it every so often, for sure.


Inkstained Wretch said...

Waitaminute, is that Catwoman in the screengrab? If it is, wow, they managed to give her a costume that out-Power Girl's Power Girl. You know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

wow. i really wish they'd make a product i could let my son watch. at least i have my adam west batman bootlegs. my son loves the REAL Batman!

david_b said...

Agreed on Adam West as the 'real Batman'.. Sorry, just the way that goes, folks.

But loving the TAS series as well, this actually looks quite good. I wasn't aware there was an animated movie made for it. I'll have to buy a copy off Amazon or something.

I haven't liked '90s or current Batman re-imaged franchise at all. Just not my cup of tea, but this DVD looks very interesting.

Fantastic Four Fan 4ever said...

I liked the animated movie only with one exception. There were no interviews with Frank Miller! You would think DC would have at least had a retrospective of his work. The year one concept should have been followed up by a year two and three. If Miller ever comes back to the character he should consider using Mazzuchelli again as an artist. His latest works that DC wouldn’t publish called “Holy Terror” was a mess. Another atrocious entry was “Dark Knight Strikes Back”. I don’t know if it was fame or pure laziness on his part. I could have drawn a better sequel. I was really hoping Miller illustrated the Batman Dark Knight sequels in his “Sin City” black and white style.

William said...

I have this on blu ray, and I really enjoyed the Catwoman short, but the main feature I thought was a little boring. It was really about Commissioner Gordon more than Bruce Wayne or Batman. (Just like the BMYO comic). As Doug said, it was pretty much a frame by frame reproduction of the comic. So, if you like the comic you'll probably like this just as much.

BTW "Inkstained Wretch" that is not what Catwoman's costume looks like most of the time. That is a screenshot from the strip club segment in the Catwoman short film, where Selina is posing as a stripper and unzips her uniform down to her navel to distract some thugs she is after.

Anonymous said...

Because Catwoman is do unresourceful, she has to resort to stripping to distract someone. Can you say " fan service"?

nude0007 said...

I think a lot of women crimefighters would be more, um, liberal, but not while fighting crime. Zip 'er up please. Maybe an occasional flash to get them off guard, but not running around with tits-a-flappin. They also draw all the women with big boobs, but fit women usually are not so endowed, and it would be, er, problematic for them, if they were. I think Catwoman would tend to distract opponents by acting lithe and cat-like more than "boob headlights".
I like a lot about the new costume, it looks really practical for a change. Maybe a touch of color?

the dark knight leather jacket said...

i love the clothes of Batman and his style and he is the great comic hero

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