Director: Sam Liu
Writers: James Krieg (as Jim Krieg), Brian Augustyn (graphic novel: “Gotham by Gaslight”)
Stars: Bruce Greenwood, Jennifer Carpenter, Chris Cox
Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is an alternative Victorian Age Gotham City in which Batman begins his war on crime while he investigates a new series of murders by Jack the Ripper. After enjoying The Killing Joke I thought I would investigate more of the DC Universe Animated Films from the past decade or so.
I like the concept of familiar characters from a familiar timeline and presenting them in a different time period and almost like they are performing in a play that appears to be a world within a world. From the very first shot the impression I got from “old Gotham” was an old London, giving an almost Sherlock Holmes feel to it. I’d go one further and say there is definitely homage to the old English detective in Gotham By Gaslight and with the Jack the Ripper storyline you understand why the film has this feel to it.
The killer going by the name of Jack the Ripper is stalking the streets and targeting women, whilst a masked vigilante known only as The Bat is also prowling the night in pursuit of the murderer. The big question is can Commissioner Gordon aided by Harvey Dent crack the case in time? The look in the scenes involving the killer are quite intense for an animated film and the settings do The Dark Knight series justice.
One of the things I enjoyed about this film was the familiar characters of Batman apart from Gordon, Dent and Alfred all have different roles to which we aren’t used to seeing. Hugo Strange, Selina Kyle and Poison Ivy all have a duty in the storyline far from their “normal” selves. Even Batman isn’t his usual crime fighting self. Not that he doesn’t get in on the action but here he is more detective trying to solve the crime and uncover the truth about Jack the Ripper.
I also enjoyed the feel to this film. The Victorian look to the cityscape and the people who populated this version of Gotham act like they are from this time period and at no point pull you away from this era. Even when a man dressed as a Bat appears it still feels like a long time ago. Another element I enjoyed was the animation. I have read a lot of fans weren’t satisfied with the look and feel to the animation with some calling it lazy. I liked it as it combined that comic book feel with the animated series “Archer” I thought the storyline was well constructed and although the camera pans away from most of the gruesome violence, you still feel that edginess and darkness in the plot.
Overall “Gotham By Gaslight” surprised me in its quality and I’m glad I gave it a view. The cast did very well and in particular Bruce Greenwood as Batman / Bruce Wayne. I felt his portrayal lived up to the character in his delivery and the darkness that surrounds him was well presented by Greenwood. He’s always been a reliable and very good actor so it was interesting to see him in a voice role and bring Batman to life. To describe this film I would say it is Batman meets Sherlock Holmes and the twist at the very end not only surprised me but I applauded the writers decision in the plot twist. It is ballsy and I’m sure if you have yet saw the movie you will agree.
“Gotham By Gaslight” is a great film for the “R” rating and an excellent story and different take for fans of “The Bat.” Highly Recommended.