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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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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:

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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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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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Mainly focuses on Gordan than Batman

6/10
Author: Zackery Burgess from United States
12 November 2011

Now I'll be honest I didn't read Frank Miller's Batman: Year One. So I really wish I read the comic before I saw the movie, but then again I did it with All-Star Superman and I liked it. Overall this one pretty god. The animation is good, the story is great. Not to sound like a Bat-fanboy( I'm more of a Green Lantern one), but why does this focus more on Lt. Gordan than Batman? Someone tell me, does the comic also focuses on Gordan than Batman? And Catwoman really was just there. I mean she really didn't serve any purpose in the film. Is she also in the Year One comic as well? Overall its not as great Under the Red Hood, but it is a good story and I do admit I did like Gordan, and what he was going through. Overall, if your a die hard Batman fan who really wants to see Batman this really isn't for you.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

This is my favorite of the DC animated movies.

8/10
Author: circawhenever from United States
6 November 2011

In my opinion, this is better then the book. To explain this, it's necessary to comment on Ben Mckenzie's performance. In the source book, Bruce/Batman always came off as a jerk, and not likable or endearing as a character. With a combination of animation and Mckenzie's unique approach, I really cared and felt fort this batman.

While the animators gave the character a subtle but effective emotional performance, Mckenzie's approach was almost paradoxical in nature. He combined elements of detached inflections, giving a sense of a man whose not quite right in the head, while also lending strong yet subtle sense of gravitas and vulnerability in his performance. Frankly, I haven't seen a batman performance this emotionally fractured since Michael Keaton.

Also, this movie hearkens back in another way to the Burton films, in that Gotham is depicted as rotten to the core through subtly; visuals and nuanced acting, no speechifying and social commentary, that Nolan seems to rely on. All in all, the best animated Batman next to Mask of the Phantasm, but that's just my opinion.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Excellent movie adaptation of an excellent comic

Author: safwan_insane
13 October 2011

I am surprised at the user reviews here and they basically compelled me to write my own. Year one is one of the greatest batman story ever and the movie sticks closely to the source material. If you are unfamiliar with the comic, Year one basically details Bruce Wayne's first year after his return to Gotham City, twelve years after his parent's death. Running parallel to this is the story line of James Gordon, a lieutenant transferred from Chicago to Gotham City. The challenges faced by these characters as they embark on their respective paths and how those paths cross is where Year One shines. The animation perfectly brings David Mazzucchelli's muddy comic panels to life. The inclusion and portrayal of Catwoman might some but it is a very brief part of the story. Year One is an excellent movie and I would recommend this to any Batman fan.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

True to the source, and done amazingly well!

9/10
Author: lukey8922 from england
5 December 2012

I was more reserved than most to see this movie. As a huge fan of Frank Millers comic for a long time i was worried how it would be transferred to the screen, but boy was i wrong. I feel embarrassed it has taken me this long to watch this movie, this was Batman at his animated best.

The main reason i thought the film would struggle to do justice to the comic is, as anyone who has read the comics will know, Its a much darker, grittier version of batman and after recently watching under the red hood, which i enjoyed, it doesn't have that dark edge that i see in Batman. However the same cannot be said for this movie. It was like the pages of the comic were been lifted to the screen and coming to life before my eyes! its the closest adaptation of paper to screen you will ever see.

The animation is done to a high standard, smooth and more colour than i had originally expected. The action sequences are particularly impressive without giving the viewer too much to concentrate on. its a well written script by Tab Murphy, although much of that credit has to go to Frank Miller as a lot of the dialogue is VERY similar to the source.

The only let down for me was the voice casting. Bryan Cranston put in a solid effort as Jim Gordon but unfortunately Ben McKenzie did not do such a good job, he just doesn't have that grittiness i feel batman needed in this film more than any other. Such a shame they didn't use Kevin Conroy as i'm sure most fans will tell you, he is the voice of Batman.

Overall, a really really good effort. Worth spending your hard earned money on, but definitely not one too see with the kids!

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

An amazing look into the origins of many of the key batman characters.

8/10
Author: MildInconvenienceMan from United Kingdom
22 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What I really liked about this film is that it focused on not the origins of batman but really the start, because they are quite different, this film was more about the journey than just dwelling on the past through hundreds of flashbacks that can become quite tedious.

The main thing I liked about this film was that it focused around the idea of the beginnings of Commissioner Gordon which is something that I'd never seen before, which is odd considering how many batman films I had seen, it was a welcome break from the usual just strict batman origins type film. What this film therefore did well was to show how batman and Gordon's destinies became intertwined from an early stage in both of their careers.

The animation was excellent and really helped to show the storyline, it was not over done so that the characters were completing impossible feats that were obviously cartoonish, instead it was really realistic, and what was especially interesting about this batman film is that it did not really rely on any of the 'super' villains instead it was all the corruption of the police, which was again nice to see in amongst all of the other forgettable batman films.

I loved the over monologue to this film, especially from Bryan Cranston who I am a huge fan of anyway, he really helped to carry the film through in his hushed tones. My only real negatives about the film were kind of small things such as why was cat woman in the film, she didn't really fit into the story very well, and the final fight scene was annoying in how Barbara just guessed where they were and turned up and how a whole fight was had with a baby in hand - however these were easily overlooked due to the amazing animation and distinctness of the storyline.

This film essentially shoes the origins in a way of many of the characters other than just batman which is something that is a healthy change from the usual batman film, definitely worth a watch form any fan of the batman franchise.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

great, especially if you're a Batman fan

9/10
Author: nick-asaro
25 August 2012

I never read Frank Miller's Year One comic before I saw this movie. nevertheless, I really enjoyed it. I liked how smoothly the narrative progresses. One of its particular strengths is how most of it is told from the perspective of Jim Gordon who has just moved to Gotham and become a cop. another is the detailed scenes of Gotham City and its people and it really emphasizes how much of a corrupt city it is. Batman himself is great. it also introduces Selina Kyle known better as Catwoman. the action is awesome especially in this one scene where the police are pursuing Batman. In my opinion, this is on par with Batman Begins.

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