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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Influential Batman Story is Faithful to Its Source Material

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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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Batman, gritty and realistic until final sequence

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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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Faithful adaptation of a great graphic novel

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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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Batman: Absolute Perfection

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 1 people found the following review useful:

Year One, A Fantastic Adaptation

Author: Kevin Lea Davies from Bangkok, Thailand
17 March 2016

The origins of Batman. There have been several renditions over his from his more wholesome and humble beginnings in the 'Silver Age' of comics, to Christopher Nolan's epic film trilogy of a man driven mad by the death of his parents. Printed in 1987, Year One was artist and writer Frank Miller's take on Batman's beginnings and is considered by many the official cannon of Wayne's long endeavour against crime.

DC Animation did a wonderful job approaching Miller's work, and remained very true to the original work. There is very little alteration in plot and theme, as it retains it gritty and dark narrative, about a city lost to crime and corruption, and the struggle of good men in a city where good men are considered weak. You are introduced to two main characters, Bruce Wayne and James Gordon. Both outsiders, and both willing to make a difference in their own way. The theme of this film is one of absolute resolve and strength in the face of adversity.

Where this film really excels is within its voice acting. Most people will be able to place Bryan Cranston as Lieutenant Gordon. Gordon, arguably the main character of this story, begins as a man in penance. He enters the city by train, regretting his actions that got him transferred to the most dangerous city in America, apprehensive about the future for his wife and himself. All of this is portrayed through these subtle inflections of voice, and Cranston does a fantastic job of maintaining this quality throughout the film. Ben McKenzie as Bruce Wayne / Batman is excellent in his role, and separates himself from previous voice actors. He portrays a man of drive and unforgiving resolve, yet at times a man who is uncertain of himself. The acting is solid throughout, which is no small feat in animation as it depends completely on how the actors use their voice.

Batman is a symbol to many, as a stand against crime, yet his beginnings were not always easy. His struggle is a very real and human one. In many ways, he represents the best of us, and an unwavering determination to do what is necessary in the face of evil. Year One is arguably the best animated adaptation of a comic book to date.


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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Good adaptation of adult Batman story

Author: Neil Welch from United Kingdom
27 January 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Upright cop James Gordon is transferred to the corrupt Gotham City Police Department at the same time as Bruce Wayne is taking the first steps towards becoming masked crimefighter Batman.

This animated feature adapts the story written by Frank Miller and illustrated by David Mazzuccelli: it doesn't follow the artist's style that closely (although there are some images lifted directly from the page), but the story is well adapted.

This is perhaps Gordon's story more than Batman's, well told, but not for kids: not because of violence or bad language, but because much of the story material is simply adult.

This is one of the better DC animated films.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Brooding, and Brilliant

Author: Rich Wright
30 June 2015

Animation grows up. Batman: Year Zero shows what the medium can do if you get the right talent behind the camera: It's a relentlessly downbeat expose of the first year of the Caped Crusader's reign, but it's not just him punching bad guys and smashing drug rings. Sharing just as much screen time is Police Commissioner Gordon, who arrives in Gotham City at round about the same time, and Catwoman (also known as Selina Kyle) with her lowly beginnings as a sleazy prostitute. With extramarital affairs, graphic violence and even a BABY being threatened at knifepoint this certainly is a long way from the camp 60's icon your mum and dad grew up with... And THANK GOD for that.

There's no padding here, no monotonous voice-over to set the scene... Just BAM straight into the action. We're given a date, we're shown what happened on that day... And then, the plot moves swiftly on. Some of these diary entries only last for a second... Others, like a fight in a burnt-out warehouse (there's ALWAYS a big battle in one of them) take much longer. And all the time, the movie never loses touch with it's human side... The morose, often tragic figures here are just as a pleasure to follow as the slick, brutal beatdowns Batman often finds himself in the middle of. It's tense, gripping, compulsive viewing from start to bloody finish. 7/10

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Batman Before The Cape & The Cowl

Author: zardoz-13 from United States
9 April 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Frank Miller's 1987 graphic novel, adapted to video by co-helmers Sam Liu of "Superman/Batman: Public Enemies" and "Superman/Batman: Apocalypse's" Lauren Montgomery, chronicles the rise of Bruce Wayne's as the Dark Knight after he returns home from aboard and Lieutenant Jim Gordon's arrival in Gotham City. They do a decent job, and the opening sequence when Bruce's jetliner descends through the clouds to Gotham City is cool. Comparatively, while Bruce flies in, Jim Gotham cruises in on a blue-collar bus. Basically, this amounts to 'Batman Before the Cape, the Cowl, and the Batmobile.' I can understand why Frank Miller complained about Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" because this one picks up after 25-year old Bruce Wayne came back from overseas. Meantime, we see most of everything from Jim Gordon's perspective. Actually, we see how Bruce Wayne went from a street vigilante with boot polish on his face to a fully tricked out crimefighter in a costume. We also see how he came up with the idea of using bats as a way to scare his adversaries. Mind you, this psychology was derived from the early Robert Kane & Bill Finger Batman when Bruce saw a bat flap into his room. Jim Gordon has a pretty tough time adapting to the corruption in Gotham City and has to contend with a wholly obnoxious partner, ex-Green Beret Arnold Flass, who carves himself a little bit of everything. He loves to beat up kids on the street, and other members of the Gotham Police Department demonstrate even less restraint. Police Commissioner Gillian Loeb is thoroughly corrupt, too. When Gordon assures Loeb that he doesn't have to worry about his honesty, Loeb replies that Gordon's honesty is the last thing on his mind. Perhaps the most interesting but least effective item here is Selina Kyle; she is an African-American who rooms with a younger prostitute. Naturally, she is surrounded by a horde of cats, and she tangles with Bruce Wayne in a street fight before he graduates to his persona as Batman. Jim Gordon comes off as a man with feet of clay. His wife Barbara is pregnant and Gordon gets himself involved romantically with a fellow policeman, Detective Sarah Essen, after he straightens out Flass. Flass and his buddies batter Gordon in the parking garage because he refuses to accept bribes. One other interesting scene occurs after Bruce Wayne swaps blows with Selina and Gotham P.D. careens up to break up the altercation. A cop named Eddie shoots and wounds Bruce. On their way to the lock-up, Bruce throttles the driver and their car crashes and he escapes. This is an interesting, fairly faithful version of Miller's graphic novel and it received a PG-13 rating for some unsavory stuff, including blood. Notably, "Breaking Bad's" Bryan Cranston voiced Jim Gordon. The animation is serviceable. Ben McKenzie adds little the voice of Batman.

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2 out of 3 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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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Gotham, from the bottom up.

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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