MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Batman: Year One’

During the last Comic Con I was lucky enough to grab some sweet seats for the screening of Batman: Year One. The animated film will, unfortunately, not be released onto video until October 18th, 2011. For us psycho fans at the con, though, we got to see it a good few months early.

Batman: Year One, written by Frank Miller and illustrated by David Mazzucchelli, was the first Batman graphic novel I ever read. I had already been a huge fan of the character thanks to the animated series and Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, but much to my shame I had not yet read any of the source materials. Batman: Year One had me hook, line, and sinker, so hearing about an adapted movie made me a mixture of excited and wary. Much to my relief, the animated movie was really well done.

For starters, the story line is indeed faithful to the graphic novel, so you purists out there will be very pleased with Tab Murphy’s adaptation. One aspect that I loved about Batman: Year One was that it was not only about Bruce Wayne’s transformation into Batman, but it was also about James Gordon’s transition of living in the infamous Gotham City. The movie, thank goodness, captured this very well. There are times where Gordon is a total BAMF and it was nice for that character to get a little love. The movie has a wonderful balance of action, drama, and humor (intentional humor, of course). There were, in fact, quite a few times where the audience laughed out loud and clapped afterwards! In my book, any movie that is able to move a large group of people like that is clearly doing something right. The directors of this adaptation are Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery, and they did a fine job.

The visuals of Batman: Year One were stunning. Not only did they retain the atmosphere created in the graphic novel, but they gave it life. They made Gotham City look like the corrupt, beautiful, yet derelict metropolis that makes it so memorable. I have to give recognition to the composer of the original score, Christopher Drake. I am a full believer that the sounds of a movie are just as important as the images, and Drake’s score captured Gotham beautifully.

Speaking of sounds, the voice actors of Batman: Year One did a fabulous job. Mind you, I am a bit biased towards a couple of the actors because they were already some of my favorites. Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle, Breaking Bad) lent his voice for Gordon, and I felt really captured that character. Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica, Bionic Woman) was Sara Essen and was also wonderful (yet again, Katee Sackhoff could eat kittens and I’d still love her for it). Last, but not least, I have to say Ben McKenzie (Southland) was a great Bruce Wayne. Like many, I was saddened that Kevin Conroy was not lending his voice to this adaptation, but then again Batman: Year One calls for a young Bruce Wayne who is yet learning his role in saving Gotham. McKenzie, in my opinion, captured this very well (also, he sat with us little people to watch the movie before the panel, so I have to give him major props for that).

For fans of the graphic novel, of the character, or just fans of a well done movie, I recommend Batman: Year One. It captures the spirit of Bruce Wayne’s world and his journey to becoming the Dark Knight.

Follow Gizzy on twitter @PetraGiselle

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