Sunday, October 16, 2011

Batman - Year One

"But this isn't about healing. I am not looking for closure." - Bruce Wayne

This is the story of Batman's first year as a hero contrasted against the life and work of Jim Gordon (Bryan Cranston), the last honest cop in Gotham. It's fortunate for the city that these two men found each other. They needed each other to become greater than they ever could have as individuals.

The thing that primarily sets Year One's story line aside from others is that it focuses as much on James Gordon as it does Bruce Wayne, interweaving their two different approaches to fighting the crime in the city. It also shows them both in new ways, not as the perfect cop and vigilante hero, but as two slightly flawed human beings striving for the same goal. It shows Bruce Wayne's struggle to convince James that he isn't the bad guy and James Gordon realisation that in order for him to achieve his own goal he will need the help of Batman.

This is not only a great animated movie but a terrific crime drama as well. We really get a sense here at how difficult actually BECOMING Batman would have been, even for a millionaire playboy with 12 years of education in martial arts and crime detection behind him. Without some help from the police, his crime fighting career wouldn't have lasted very long at all.

If not for the arrival of Batman, Jim Gordon may have became the thing he hated most - a dishonest man. He has a strong personal code of ethics and a sense of good and evil that sees nuance and shades of grey. He understands that the line between vengeance and justice is razor thin. He just needed someone to remind him of that.

This isn't a cartoon for the little ones. There is violence in the form of beatings, broken bones, child endangerment and gun shots. There is blood. There is also beauty. Something about any city when it snows, even one as dangerous as Gotham.

For adults and older teens, this was a thrilling adventure into the bowels of Gotham City, where all it really takes to be a hero is integrity - personal integrity. It's also about human failings and the possibility of redemption. It's about faith.

This is Frank Miller before he lost his Bat-mojo.

The animation is as stellar as is the voice work. I always miss it when Kevin Conroy doesn't do the voice of Batman. He is the only voice I hear in my head. But that is a minor quibble. It's worth it just to see so many iconic Batman moments in one movie.


The movies is packaged with a short cartoon about Catwoman that doesn't shy away from the sexiness of this character. This woman is all feline and she prowls the palaces of the wealthy far above the dirty streets below. OOOOO, that's good.


M. D. Jackson said...

I loved the original comic (I still have it in storage somewhere) I guess I'll have to check out the video.

Sam G said...

My man Bryan Cranston as Jim Gordon is genius.