Batman Year One Blu-ray Review

Posted 8 years ago by Movies

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This is a good week for Batman fans. Like most of you I’ve been playing through Batman Arkham City and loving every minute of it, but this week saw the release of the animated adaption of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One as well.

Has it really been over a year since I reviewed a DC Animated Universe movie? The last DC U animated Blu-ray I reviewed was Batman: Under the Red Hood, and it was surprisingly good. Since then, I’ve seen a few more, but didn’t feel they were worth posting on the site. Green Lantern: Emerald Knights was a decent collection of stories, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse was just kind of interesting, and All-Star Superman was weird because I didn’t know the source material.

Even though I haven’t read Batman: Year One by Frank Miller, I thoroughly enjoyed the animated adaptation and feel like it is an impressive addition to Batman’s already awesome animated film history.

The Movie

Batman: Year One is a very Batman Begins-esque origin story about Bruce Wayne becoming the masked vigilante to combat the crime in Gotham, but to me the real star is James Gordon. Growing up on the classic Batman Animated Series in the 90s made me realize that Gordon was a cool character, despite his shitty portrayal in all the Batman films to that point. Luckily, Christopher Nolan changed that when he cast Gary Oldman to play Gordon, and the character finally got some screen time as the badass he is.

Batman: Year One presents a very flawed, tough version of Gordon, played perfectly by Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston. Maybe it’s Cranston’s hair color and mustache, but I could not stop thinking about how I wanted him to play Gordon in Warner Bros’ inevitable reboot of the post-Nolan Batman film universe. He sounds that good as Gordon.

While Batman is trying to show Gotham he means business, Gordon is doing the same with the Gotham Police force. It is entirely corrupt, and he almost gets killed because of his unwillingness to participate. There are no supervillains to be seen, and this made me wonder what Nolan’s first foray into the Batverse would have been like if he would have chosen not to include Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul (a decision I doubt WB would have let him make).

Ultimately, I think it’s a testament to the Batman character that he works so well alongside crazy supervillains as he does just fighting crime.

The Blu-ray

Batman: Year One, like Red Hood before it, feels more cinematic than DC’s other direct-to-Blu-ray titles, and thankfully is presented with care. The video quality is great, as is the presentation and selection of bonus features. You can always count on the DC U Blu-rays to feature interesting interviews, retrospectives, and an assortment of episodes hand-picked by Bruce Timm, which is always a plus.

The DC Showcase short this time around is based on Catwoman, and I didn’t bother watching it yet. I haven’t liked any of the Showcase shorts at all, and from what I read about this one it mainly features Catwoman pole-dancing, so I passed.

Batman: Year One is a solid effort and I’ll definitely watch it again, and if you’re a Batman fan you should check it out. Now we wait and see how The Dark Knight Returns gets treated.

  • Tim Briscoe

    I’m not watching it unless Alfred packs heat.