Batman: Gotham Knight Review

Published 6 years ago by , Updated July 17th, 2008 at 10:31 pm,

bmgkpic3 Batman: Gotham Knight ReviewBatman: Gotham Knight is an “homage” (a more accurate phrase would be “rip-off”) to the fabulous Animatrix collection that was released alongside the final two films in the Matrix trilogy. Since the unfolding Batman Begins trilogy releases its second installment, The Dark Knight, on July 18, studio Warner Bros. (never one to reinvent the wheel,) is attempting to $queeze some extra profit out of its expanding franchise by giving the Dark Knight his own collection of anime shorts, which chronicle events between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, summating in a hit-and-miss sequence of stories that just barley make the collection as a whole worth checking out. [SPOILER-FREE REVIEW INSIDE]

Comparisons between The Animatrix and Gotham Knight are impossible to ignore, the former, (in my opinion,) being much more visionary, daring, and revolutionary for those not familiar with anime, than what Gotham Knight offers. (The Animatrix also had that SICK CGI short that premiered in theaters. GK offers no such thrill.)

Rather than write a small novel on the collection as a whole, I thought I’d separate it into its individual stories, grade each one, give a quick synopsis, and end with my own verdict. This should help you sort out which of the shorts is worth watching, and which can just be skipped altogether, so that hopefully, your experience watching Gotham Knight won’t have you nodding off at certain points like I did.

bmgkpic1 Batman: Gotham Knight Review

“HAVE I GOT A STORY FOR YOU” (C-)

SYNOPSIS: Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Josh Olson (A History of Violence) tells the story of how chance encounters with Batman by a group of youngsters leave each kid with a very different impression of the Dark Knight.

VERDICT: This type of Batman story has been done before, (see the episode “Almost got him” from Batman: The Animated Series), and been done better, at that. Also, the animation style (that kind of taffy-stretched, Aeon Flux-type anime,) is the sort I’ve never been a fan of. A poor intro to the collection.

“CROSSFIRE” (B)

SYNOPSIS: Acclaimed novelist/comics writer Greg Rucka tells the story of Gotham City police having to get over their distrust of Batman – while under fire from the mob.

VERDICT: A somewhat interesting story that fills in some gaps about what happened to ‘the narrows’ slum after all the Asylum inmates were set loose at the end of Batman Begins. It’s also an interesting meditation on the see-saw relationship between Batman, a vigilante, and the GCPD.

“FIELD TEST” (B-)

SYNOPSIS: Writer Jordan Goldberg showcases the incredible high-tech arsenal Batman commands and reveals that there are some things even Batman won’t do in his pursuit of justice.

VERDICT: Nothing really wrong with this chapter; just nothing really great about it either. I was more enthralled with the size of the lint I found in my belly-button than watching what was happening on screen.

“IN DARKNESS DWELLS (A+)

SYNOPSIS: Batman descends into the Gotham sewers to face “Killer Croc,” a deformed thug who seems even more monstrous after the Scarecrow, and his fear toxin, makes a resurgence, in a story by David S. Goyer, co-screenwriter of Batman Begins.

VERDICT: It’s no wonder that this chapter is so good, having been written by Goyer. The story has the strongest link to BB, and the take on Killer Croc is truly horrifying, as are the visuals of the Gotham City Sewers (they used to be a waterway used to transport coffins.) The ending of the story is totally left-field, yet resonates so well with the underlying theme of who Batman is. A superb achievement.

“WORKING THROUGH PAIN (A+)

SYNOPSIS: Award-winning comics writer Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets) explores an early chapter of Bruce Wayne’s training, showing how a mysterious and exotic Indian woman named Cassandra introduced Batman to techniques that would help him to conquer the physical and spiritual consequences of what he does.

VERDICT: Cassandra is by far the most interesting character introduced in the collection, and what she teaches Bruce Wayne is just as interesting. Also raised in this chapter is a theme rumored to be central to TDK, namely that Bruce/Batman has chosen a solitary path to walk, one that no one else can, or will, walk alongside him. An unorthodox, yet no less powerful, story.

“DEADSHOT” (A-)

SYNOPSIS: Four-time Emmy Award-winning writer Alan Burnett ties together threads from all the Batman Gotham Knight chapters, as Batman must thwart an unerring assassin whose love of guns and disregard for human life lets him cross lines that even a Dark Knight shies away from.

VERDICT: This is pretty much what we want to see from Gotham Knight. The story is straightforward, the animation style is basic anime, sans abstraction, and the whole chapter is pretty much action. Deadshot is a rogues-gallery favorite, and his showdown with Batman in a tunnel atop a speeding train is visually stunning. I tacked on a minus to the final grade only because “In Darkness Dwells” and “Working Through Pain” were able to reach up and grab some deeper truth about who Batman is, and what his quest is about. “Deadshot” is just pure entertainment.

bmgkpic5 Batman: Gotham Knight Review

So that’s my take on Batman: Gotham Knight. How does your assessment compare? Rant back and let us know.

Source: Batman: Gotham Knight Official Site

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TAGS: batman, batman gotham knight

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  1. I picked this up today and am going to watch Friday night!!Can’t wait…

    Vic that last pic …Is it from the Deadshot short because it looks like the Neal Adams rendition of the character from the 70′s…

  2. Sorry there I should have asked Kofi that question…. :)

  3. Good review Kofi.
    I will pick this up .

  4. Hey, good review. I grabbed this earlier but haven’t watched it yet. I will soon hopefully

  5. I just got it and watched it. I’ve gotta say I was pretty impressed. all in all a good investment.

  6. Nice timing! It’s playing in some small cinemas in Australia at the moment as part of an anime showcase, so I’ll be seeing it soon.

  7. Ordered this a few days ago – glad to see it got a reasonably good review.

    :)

  8. I gotta say, I give the exact same review for the most part, except the first one, which I give an even lower grade because I, even being a teenager myself, couldn’t sit through the way those kids were talking.

    Plus, with the B:TAS episode that had the same premise, we got to see a DKR style Bats!

  9. Dead Shot: Pretty good

    In Darkness Dwells: Also Pretty Good

    Have I got a Story for you: OK, but Batman:TAS did it SOOOOOOOO much better.

    The other episodes, IMHO, were complete crap. Not even worth mentioning. GK, IMO, is the worst DC DTV so far. 1) anime sucks, altho for the most part it wasn’t AS BAD as I expected. I like Timm’s animated art styles from the other series much better. They’re very sleek and stylistic, perfect for animation, I don’t get why Timm would do something as detailed as anime with this feature, especially after reading his book Batman: Animated, where he spoke about working with the strengths of animation and not adding too much detail, “less is more, …they’re cartoons”. 2) I’d rather have seen a linear, more continuous story instead of six “episodes” to fit each creators ego. This was a waste of good effort, IMO, I can easily think of 5 other Batman stories that would’ve been great for adaptation into an animated feature (Death in the Family, Knightfall), I’d have even appreciated it if they would’ve done period pieces of a few of the old forties Batman stories that had cool concepts but not much “personality” or “3 dimensional writing” and made full length features or segments out of them, they would be really great with today’s animation tech and writing styles. But nah, they instead sold us a (somewhat) crappy anime and we bought it up because we were told it was a “prologue to The Dark Knight”, which it isn’t. That said, it was great to hear Kevin Conroy as Batman again, as I’ve said before, he is the definite Batman voice, the movie actors should take a hint from him. He’s awesome. :D And it was cool to see each artists’ different interpretation of what the batsuit should be like (my fave suits were the ones from episodes 1 and 6, 5′s suit was OK).

    Screenrant,

    I appreciate the review, but where are the reviews for Superman: Doomsday (which was good as long as you don’t view it as a direct adaptation of the comic) and Justice League: The New Frontier (which was really good, the best DC DTV so far)???? How come Gotham Knight only gets a review? Show the other (and far better) DC DTVs some love, please. :D

    Looking forward to Wonder Woman. That looks great. I think it might be the best DC DTV yet. I like that they’re doing an origin and an all new story, the art style also looks great. Hopefully the movie biz folks will take note and see how a WW movie should be done. :)

    Praying DC puts out a Flash DTV (an origin and all new story would be great, (Barry Allen of course)) and a Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) DTV sometime soon, definitely before another Batman DTV (not that I dislike him, it’s just the other JLAers should get some facetime). :p

    END PONTIFICATE RANT [lol]

  10. KEL, if I can get the approval I will Superman: Doomsday and JL: NF soon. I enjoyed both of them. Thanks for the well-informed rant.

  11. Anytime, Kofi, and thank you (great review, BTW, don’t know if I mentioned that). :D

  12. I just finished watching it and I was extremely disappointed by this DVD…The only story adding much as to why Bruce Wayne can do what he does is story 5 Walking Through Pain..It shows that Bruce Wayne certainly did his research when it came to doing what he needed to do to get the necessary knowledge and spirituality to strengthen himself from within for the work he knew he was going to do…The Cassandra character was very intruiging…

  13. KEL is back, I swear KEL has a search engine running night and day covering DC and Marvel related topics. ;-)

    Nice review Kofi, this sounds better than I thought it would be. ;-)
    That episode in the Animatrix “kids story” gave me a headache.

    Btw the Animatrix story “The Second Renaissance parts 1 & 2 I found VERY hardcore and should have been Rated NC-17. Intense stuff. The story completly answered the question ,”why the machines inslaved us”. Compelling and disturbing.

  14. haha, 790.

    I actually have 2 heheh. ;) :p

  15. KEL

    I can’t get excited about a Wonder WOEman movie..I don’t know why but it just has no appeal to me but I guess when I consider the other female CBM offerings like Electra, Catwoman, Supergirl, SHeena & Barb Wire there is not much to get excited about..SOmething about this genre does not translate well to film or has not so far…I look at the two Underworld films as being the benchmark for how to make female superhero characters strong and independent enough to make a great movie on their own…

    Cheers

  16. I hear ya, greenknight333, but after watching that featurette I feel as tho they might actually get it right this time. Any other day and I couldn’t have cared less about a WW movie. Seeing the featurette changed my mind a bit. I hope it will be good. :)

  17. I just gotta say this..and yes, I’m dating myself by doing it…Linda Carter will be a tough act to follow, campy t.v. style writing notwithstanding. So lets get to the meat and potatoes of the fem comic book “wanna ses”…

    BRING ON SHE HULK!!! (LOL)

    Keep the faith,

    M.W.L.

  18. I really didn’t enjoy this. In fact all go as far as saying I finished it feeling like I wasted money. Granted I didn’t expect much since I’m not a fan of Anime style, but I did expect at least some good stories to go with the animation. The only story I liked was Working through the pain I thought all the others were crap.

    This in no way held a candle to JL: The New Frontier or even Superman Doomsday. Doomsday was decent but nothing special however GK makes it look amazing. JLNF was actually very good.

    Wonder Women doesn’t at all look good from this preview. I’ll probably still watch it because of Nathan Fillion.

  19. The news of Batman’s being given to the Japanese sent me into a ballistic rage. I said to myself, “That’s it. Batman has been destroyed.”
    Turns out I was right. I reluctantly bought and watched Batman: Gotham Knight only see my childhood hero raped before my very eyes . Japanese are terrible writers and animators.

  20. I wouldn’t go that far. I would say that Anime is a terrible form of animation and is generally joined with a terrible story. However I wouldn’t call an entire race bad animators and bad writers. First of all some people in Anime are talented they just use that style despite their incredible talent. Second not everyone who is Japanese draws and writes for the anime style. Your comment was pretty racist.

  21. Ok this is the best movie you’ll ever see. jk it was ok i give it a 7 out of 10. i liked dark knight better but it’s always awesome to see another part of the batman saga u know.

  22. When i saw The 4 stories(except for the Deadshot because it was Dinnertime and my Mom takes over on the Television) I was Amaze(except for the “Have i got a Story for you” part). making an Anime of Batman is Nice work.
    I maybe young but That is Some things. People can give the makers of it an Idea(if they make more than 5 stories)
    I could give an Idea Like:
    Face the Reaper:
    After Working through Pain he meets Death after he fell
    then he would Witness the World is a Dump even W/o him,
    he would try to face the trials of Death to prove himself as
    Innocent to live longer to fight for Justice, its too confusing, A lot of Trials that that Bruce Wayne/Batman would need to see and Fix(and a lot of Flash backs of his inner childhood.
    1) His Parents Death
    -Bruce would try to stop his Parents Death
    2) The World of Hell(w/ him)
    -Batman would do more Work and Never Rest, and facing himself but more Demonic
    3) The World of Agony(w/o him)
    -Batman would see if he Fails, seeing that everyone would have no future in Life, nothing but eternal Agony(like hell)
    4) Cassandra’s Purpose
    -He would try to finish Cassandra’s trials and know what she really needs to do
    5) Sin City
    -Another trial from Death, facing the 7 Deadly Sins(Anger, Lie, Cheat, Steal, Lust, Laziness, & Greed[and others if possible and he would face a dangerous Bad Romance to a Woman])
    6) Rotten Grave
    -Death would try to Test Batman by facing Dead people because of the toxins
    7) Insanity
    -More of Deaths trials, all of his Friends would go to Insanity everyone would be afraid of him, hate him, kill him, and others
    8) Meet his Parent
    -Same as no. 1(but he would be back in time and know the life of his Real Parents doings. Sin or not)

  23. the worst batman, forget that, the worst dvd i have ever watched in my life. to put it simply, it has almost entirely ruined batman for me. it is horrendous from start to finish. each story is as bad as the other and the animations are horrific, and welll dont even get me started on the costumes and presentations of batman. i cannot describe in words how bad this adaptation of batman is but i would rather stab myself in the eyeballs with a fork than watch this absolute trash again. i never give reviews of dvds but this utter crap has forced me to. the directors ought to be ashamed of themselves, i just cannot comprehend what was going through their minds when they put it together. im off to watch the dark knight now to try and cleanse my mind of this complete dirt.

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