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Batman: Year One
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Reviews & Ratings for
Batman: Year One (V) More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Adaptation or Illustration

6/10
Author: itamarscomix from Israel
27 January 2013

Batman: Year One is a remarkably loyal, almost frame-for-frame adaptation of Frank Miller's revolutionary graphic novel of the same name. Admittedly, as a fan of the Batman comics and of Miller's distinctive style, I really enjoyed watching his frames come to life; and it's hard to dismiss the fact that Year One is one of the finest Batman stories ever written, and it deserves the wider recognition that an animated version may give it. Unfortunately, Year One doesn't come close to fulfilling its potential; the frames and dialog are lifted almost directly from the comic, but the pacing is poor which leads to an absence in tension and leaving the viewer completely outside the film. It doesn't help that Ben McKenzie may well be the worst Batman I've heard, reading the lines from the script as if he wants to get it over with as quickly as possible. Bryan Cranston almost saves the day in his amazing performance as James Gordon - and dear lord, how I'd love to see him play that part in a live action adaptation! - but it's not enough to make Year One anything more than an illustration of the novel, one that can never come close to matching its impact and would probably have a hard time finding an audience outside of devoted Batman fans.

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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Batman, gritty and realistic until final sequence

9/10
Author: pamad05 from Denmark
13 October 2011

I enjoyed the first 90% of the movie immensely, but the last 10 minutes has batman running around, sans costume and grappling-hook, doing some supernatural free-running.

A lot of the famous villains and anti-villains not directly implicated in the plot are presented along side the main story arc, and the fighting is both excellently and convincingly done - although I did feel Gordon was a bit too much of a brawler, but I forget how he was in the comic.

Everything else is true to the source material, arguably a bit too attached, but for someone who hasn't read the "Year One" comic in what seems like a year, it was a great ride.

I did not have any issues with the voice acting as some of the others have reported.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Influential Batman Story is Faithful to Its Source Material

8/10
Author: Norman Cook from Orange County, California
12 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Snapshot: Batman: Year One is one of the most influential comic book stories of all time. The direct-to-DVD adaptation is very faithful to the source material, with excellent production values. It is well worth watching.

Spoilers ahead!

Batman: Year One could easily be called James Gordon: Year One, for it is Lt. Gordon's (Bryan Cranston) character that provides the overriding through story (Cranston even gets top billing). A world-weary Gordon arrives in Gotham City from his previous assignment as punishment for breaking the unwritten code of the policemen's brotherhood: he turned in a cop on the take. What he finds in Gotham is a force that is corrupt all the way to the top. Commissioner Loeb (Jon Polito) is firmly in the pocket of mob boss Carmine Falcone (Alex Rocco), and Gordon's new partner Detective Flass (Fred Tatasciore) is not only corrupt, but is also a violent sociopath who will do anything to intimidate crooks (or Gordon himself, for that matter). Meanwhile, Gordon's home life is rocked when he has an affair with Detective Sarah Essen (Katee Sackhoff) while his wife Barbara (Grey DeLisle) is pregnant with their first child.

And then a crazy man in a bat costume begins taking out bad guys.

Bruce Wayne (Ben McKenzie) has returned from twelve years of mental and physical training to avenge the death of his parents at the hands of criminal scum. He finds it's not so easy, and is almost killed on his first night out in a simple disguise. But a bat flying into his mansion quickly inspires him, and Batman is born.

At first wary of each other, but ultimately realizing they are the only two morally true protectors of Gotham City, Gordon and Batman begin to make a dent in the corrupt police force and the mob that controls them.

In a brief appearance not very instrumental to the plot, prostitute Selina Kyle (Eliza Dushku) decides to emulate the mysterious bat-man, who in her mind has some kindred fetishes, and literally becomes a Catwoman burglar.

The directors made a deliberate decision to remain very faithful to the graphic novel, making it appealing to the fans who expect a lot from one of their favorite stories. The script hones very closely to Miller's terse original. The animation keeps the spirit of the original art, wonderfully carrying the action. It has an anime flow added to it from the Korean studio (MOI Animation) that did the production. The ugliness of the city and its inhabitants comes through in gritty detail. The city becomes a character in itself, creating claustrophobia that closes in on Gordon and Batman.

The voice talent, especially Cranston as Gordon, do a wonderful job conveying the tone of the story. The only small exception is McKenzie's Batman. I understand they wanted a younger, less confident sounding voice, but when we are so used to Kevin Conroy, it's hard to switch. And it's not like Conroy didn't do a terrific younger version in Batman: Gotham Knight (2008). But as Batman gains confidence through the course of his first year, so does McKenzie's voice gain strength.

Batman: Year One is a nice complement to Batman Begins (2005), which took many of its elements from Miller's scenario. Batman Begins focused more on Bruce Wayne's training, while Year One focuses more on Batman's indoctrination into the world of crime fighting.

Be advised that Batman: Year One is not watered down. The sexual situations, dialog, and violence are not for children!

Batman: Year One is a well-done tribute to one of the greatest Batman comics of all time: the story of crime-fighting badass James Gordon and his partner, the man in the bat suit.

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A Mature Batman for a Matured Audience

Author: rjgbeaver
19 October 2011

A few things off the bat... I'm a fan of DC comics Animation since TAS and Mask of The Phantasm. For the most part they have done a great job delivering exciting stories. Also, I have NOT read the Frank Miller 'Batman: Year One' 4 issue comic from which this was adapted from.

So here's my 2 cents... Animation: Sharp. Minimal use of soft focus than in previous features which is an improvement. Very little 'shakey cam' shots as used in previous films to create the illusion of action. Action and scenes are set up as you would expect in a well done live action film.

Voice Work: Kudos to the casting team. All voices sound top notch without sounding as if they're actors reading off a script in a sound booth. They genuinely sound invested in the scene and it shows. Minor complaints on Bruce's voice but you get used to it.

Music/Sound: Fantastic. Dark and atmospheric. Slowly plays tension through out the film. Until now, I had yet to hear a composition on one of these films that matches the talent of Shirley Walker who composed for Batman TAS in the 90's. The surround sound in this feature is put to full use more so than other animated DC films. Again, your getting feature film effort/quality here.

Story: Here's where I've read many complaints. This was definitely dark and different. Bear in mind I have never read the comic but from what I hear this is a faithful adaptation of those 4 issues. The story chronicles both Batman and Gordon's first year fighting in Gotham. How their relationship evolves and the decadence of Gotham is explored in detail. Don't expect a rosy colored Batman cartoon. This is a mature and dark story that happens to be told in animation.

Conclusion: Those of us that grew up as children watching Batman: TAS who are now adults. Many of us have admired how lately Batman's character has been presented in such mature forms as in Nolan's Dark Knight or Rock Steady's Arkham Asylum/City. This is why 'Batman: Year One' stands out above the rest in terms of animated films. In part, due to the excellent source material but equally in it's presentation in this particular medium. Batman: Year One is the wonderful product of more than 20 years of animated excellence. Definitely, a must have.

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Faithful adaptation of a great graphic novel

10/10
Author: Gopal Sangra
23 July 2014

I have always loved batman year one, maybe even more so than the dark knight returns. I liked how it was more about the city and the corrupt police force and it focused more on Jim Gordon than batman, it was about how batman affected other peoples lives. This animated feature based off of the iconic frank miller story line follows the graphic novel very closely and is animated very smoothly and very well and has some excellent voice work by Bryan Cranston of breaking bad and the 2014 Godzilla movie, i think he was the perfect choice for Jim Gordon. It is very interesting seeing Jim Gordon deal with this corrupt city and police force. It is very well paced, i wasn't bored at all while watching it. I highly recommend watching this animated feature because i enjoyed it a lot and found it to be a great adaptation of one of my favorite batman story lines

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Batman: Absolute Perfection

10/10
Author: xThatOneKidx from United States
28 August 2013

I found that "Batman: Year One" was an amazingly entertaining and powerful movie (the best batman I've seen in a long time!). I haven't read the Graphic Novel before, but I'm sure, after watching this that it's a fantastic, well-written novel... The animation was the best I have ever seen in a long time. The story/plot was tantalizingly fabulous, I wish there were more to watch! I never saw Lieutenant Gordon as the versatile, hero he actually is. It's exciting, action-packed, sleazy and interesting. It'll definitely keep you well entertained for the hour and 4 minutes... There isn't a moment in this movie that I found boring or lame. The story is solid and ingenious! The casting was perfect. Never would have guessed Bryan Cranston to play James Gordon or Ben McKenzie as Batman but it blends perfectly... I highly suggest this to all; either your a Batman fan or not you're sure to find that this movie is Five-Star worthy...

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A Solid Adaptation

7/10
Author: filmcritickevin from United States
28 October 2012

I'm a huge fan of the Frank Miller graphic novel, and this film did follow the source material almost word for word. The animation was very well executed, presenting some really good action sequences.

My main problem with this much anticipated DC Animation project was Ben McKenzie's miserable performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman. His pathetic attempt at voice acting was one of the worst things I've ever listened to.

Nevertheless, Bryan Cranston was perfect for the role of Jim Gordon, and I hope to see him portray the character again in a live action film.

As far as the construction of Gotham, I did feel they could've done a better job of emphasizing the noir aspect presented by David Mazzuchelli's art. The lighting was much too vibrant for the bleak and eery atmosphere of this dismal society.

All in all, this one is worth watching, but has its flaws nonetheless.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Solid enjoyable origins story that benefits from having Gordon as the focal point and little extravagance

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
21 January 2012

Two men come to Gotham City. Jim Gordon comes to join the police for a fresh start, having been labelled as a rat for getting convictions against dirty colleagues. Millionaire Bruce Wayne returns from overseas, with a keen sense of justice and a need to take action. Both men want to clean up Gotham and both men find the system to be failing, however, although they want the same thing, both men face threats from criminals and the police alike, as Commissioner Loeb may be the most corrupt of all of them.

I'm not a big fan of animated films but I do love Batman and some of the work of Frank Miller. In this film we take the story right back to the origins (again) but the focus is very much on the parallel fates of Gordon and Wayne and the roots of their working relationship. There are no master villains, not much in the way of elaborate gadgets or excess but instead crime families and corrupt cops terrorising the city. This plot gives the film an accessible and realistic feel that I quite liked even if the downside is that it does rather lack colour and OTT excitement. On the flipside to that though it was fun to enjoy the story set in a semi-real world with the focus on the person rather than the extravagant character – there is a reason why this is as much Gordon's story as it is Wayne's.

Despite being a bit more realistic it does still produce good action and the hour run-time goes by quite quickly and easily. The animation is stylish without ever overdoing it on the design front. The city itself is a little disappointing as it is perhaps too ordinary but otherwise the film looks good and is well directed in terms of "camera" angles and shots. If I had one main complaint it would be the inclusion of Catwoman in the film. She really adds nothing and the film does nothing with her – I'm not sure what happens with her in the source material, but her character seems rushed and included because they felt they had to. You'd not feel her absence if she wasn't there.

The voice work from Cranston is good – not only his distinctive voice but his delivery is roundly good. McKenzie wasn't quite as effective for me, although this is partly because Gordon does seem to have the better of the material in terms of lines. Sackhoff, Dushku and Rocco are all good presences but Polito suffers a bit because his character (Loeb) both looks and sounds like Ed Rothschild Wuncler from The Boondocks. Overall though, a solid Batman origins film that benefits from having the focus as much on Gordon as it is on Wayne.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Gotham, from the bottom up.

9/10
Author: alanrayford from Detroit, Michigan
23 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Like the Batman DTV's before, this is based on a comic book storyline and has an exceedingly short running time. Nonetheless, unlike Batman: Gotham Knight, Batman: Under the Red Hood and both Batman/Superman features, this is special. It's probably the best production put forth since 2009's Wonder Woman—if not the best animated DTV yet.

This is due primarily to it's faithfulness to the original, 1987 mini-series by writer Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli. Normally, I hate watching stories I've already read and know by heart. But Miller and Mazzucchelli's tale isn't a simple story; it's a masterpiece of storytelling which pushed the boundaries of the genre.

Visually, everything is rendered to look less stylized and more realistic. The backgrounds are more in line with the realities of urban decay rather than Gothic fancy. Bruce Wayne looks like a normal guy, even when he's kicking trees in half. As Batman, while definitely a BAMF, he doesn't miraculously gain muscle mass. Jim Gordon looks less like a caricature and more like an actual detective—complete hunched shoulders and weary glare. Everything animates smoothly, although, just as in real life, there aren't any overly dramatic or spectacular shots.

The story's further propelled by some rather understated acting by its two leads. Bryan Cranston does Jim Gordon justice, managing to sound weathered yet compassionate all the same. Benjamin McKenzie's portrayal of Bruce Wayne felt a bit uneasy. But that's fitting, seeing as how the character's just starting out and was a little unsteady. I could see McKenzie's Wayne eventually growing into Kevin Conroy's, which is all I needed to.

As for the direction of Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery, they played it smart. The source material nearly serves as shot for shot storyboard. So they wisely chose to follow what Miller wrote and Mazzucchelli rendered. Kudos! Now for the story.

Batman: Year One (BYO) details the first year in Gotham City's long, unending road to redemption. It starts with Bruce Wayne's return, after twelve years abroad, and the arrival of, then police lieutenant, James Gordon. Both of them oppose the deep-rooted corruption within the city. But, one is part of the system and the other isn't—leading them to employ different tactics. Although they start off at odds, by film's end, a legendary partnership has been forged.

There's no need to say more about the plot. This is an almost panel for panel reproduction of the mini-series. So, if you've read it, then you already know what to expect…mostly.

There are a few additions made to BYO that fit the animated medium. They are as follows: an lengthened fight between a pre-Batman, Bruce Wayne and a pre-Catwoman, Selina Kyle; an extended fight between Batman and SWAT; Wayne brooming an escort after she helps sell an alibi; Catwoman scratching up some mobsters; and Wayne, in civvies, engaging in some super-I've spent twelve years traveling the world and mastering exotic martial arts-parkour. Most of these additions are devoted primarily to action. This is good, because you don't add scenes of dialogue to a crown jewel of storytelling without running the risk of irrevocably screwing up. Unfortunately, there are still a few snags.

While nearly every scene from the mini is present and accounted for, a few things were omitted. Most were lines of dialogue. We never hear why Gordon hates his gun. We never hear how much Gordon curbed his pummeling of Flass. We don't hear Batman size up the Roman's security detail before crashing that banquet. Alfred's throwaway line about Superman is cut. These are lightweight omissions, the rest are not.

The scene which firmly established Gordon's growing attraction to Essen was cut. Without it, their first kiss felt sudden and almost out of character instead of inevitable. More important is the scene where Bruce identified Gordon as someone he needed on his side. Without this scene, Bruce showing up to save the day felt more convenient than logical. Also, when Gordon headed back home, in the final act, it was clearly dark outside. Yet, two minutes later, the sun was out. Wayne's earlier line to Alfred about never suiting up during the daytime makes this one, graphical misstep even more obvious.

Yet, it has to be said the reason I know of these exclusions and find their absence jarring is because I know this particular story like the back of my hand. If you haven't read the TPB enough to wear out the spine of two copies, you'd be hard pressed to notice.

All in all, I feel this is the best presentation of Batman currently available. It's more fallible, human and believable than the comics have been in over twenty years. It's more mature and packs more punch than BTAS. There are no superpowers. The lead is never once referred to as a superhero. Gotham isn't hopelessly Gothic and full of long, winding spires just for the sake of it (Burton). The darkened skyline isn't awash with garish, neon lighting, nor does the batsuit have nipples (Schumacher). An organization of overly pious assassins doesn't stage a terrorist attack on Gotham, nor does a nearly omniscient, self proclaimed agent of chaos make an appearance (Nolan). Batman isn't built like a pro-wrestler who has an endless array of batarangs, other assorted tech and can expertly engage endless opponents without hurting for it (Rocksteady's games).

BYO's chief strength is how it takes the world we know and tweaks things, just a little bit, by adding a very human Caped Crusader who's new to the job. Everything besides this lone element feels eerily true as this is ultimately a story of corruption. It's about those who profit from it, those who perpetuate it, those who are victimized by it and those few who choose to fight it.

Buy this film. Rent this film. Watch this film. Watch it again. This is the best, most compelling take on the Batman mythos you're likely to see.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Telling the story again...

7/10
Author: JoeB131 from United States
22 January 2012

This is an adaptation of Frank Miller's "Batman:Year 1" series and it's pretty close to the story.

It shows both Batman and James Gordon at the beginning of their careers dealing with corrupt politicians, criminal gangs and so on.

Batman is one of those characters where the story has been retold so many times that you can draw anything from the campy to the deadly serious about it. We have all the Batman characters we love- including Harvey Dent (pre-horrible accident) and the Catwoman. (Although, honestly, I found her character to be the kind of annoying thing about the film.

This is done in the style of Japanese Anime, and if you enjoy that kind of thing, that's fine. It was graphic and gritty and I imagine somewhere out there a parent rented this and got an eye-full with the red light district scene.

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