It makes perfect sense for Warner to commemorate “Batman Year One” from 2011. While it’s not a particularly great movie, we are on the cusp of the release of yet another Batman movie that explores Batman in his early years as the Dark Knight. The re-release of “Batman Year One” is good business especially since it’s about ten years since it was released in 2011 to mixed fanfare. Ten years later, it’s still not a great movie, but it should help psych audiences up for “The Batman.”
Two men come to Gotham City: Bruce Wayne after years abroad feeding his lifelong obsession for justice and Jim Gordon after being too honest a cop with the wrong people elsewhere. After learning painful lessons about the city’s corruption on its streets and police department respectively, this pair learns how to fight back their own way. With that, Gotham’s evildoers from top to bottom are terrorized by the mysterious Batman and the equally heroic Gordon is assigned to catch him by comrades who both hate and fear him themselves. In the ensuing manhunt, both find much in common as the seeds of an unexpected friendship are laid with additional friends and rivals helping to start the legend.
What keeps “Batman Year One” so consistently interesting is the duality of Gordon and Bruce and how thy both share the same purpose, despite achieving their goals in opposite spectrums. This puts them at odds with one another from the first moment they meet, and “Year One” builds well on what would be an iconic dynamic between the law and the vigilantes. The cast are pretty top notch here, with folks like Bryan Cranston doing a great job of giving Gordon real fervor and complexity. Ben McKenzie (who’d ironically go on to star in “Gotham” as a young Gordon a few years later), is great in the role as young Bruce, a young man with massive resources who carves out his path as the Batman.
I also really enjoyed Eliza Dushku as a young Catwoman, who also helps establish the beginning of a long relationship with Batman.The movie’s biggest downfall is that it’s only about an hour in length. It feels lazy when you consider how much material has been drawn from Batman and Gordon’s relationship over the decades. The movie only gives us about an hour of material, which gives way to a brisk pacing, but rushed storytelling. This makes it tough to absorb the experience. That said, “Batman Year One” is just an okay adaptation improved by great performances and sharp animation. I wish the production crew would have invested in at least forty more minutes of exposition and exploration in to Batman’s first year.
This new edition pretty much just recycles a lot of the features from the original 2011 release, except it omits some of the original features. That said, for folks looking for a spiffy new edition to re-watch the shockingly short movie with, “The Commemorative Edition” should be right up your alley.
This two-disc release comes with new cover artwork, and a Digital Copy. The extras listed below are all found only on the Blu-Ray disc. The twenty two minutes Reinventing Gordon is an all new featurette tracing the history and growth of Jim Gordon from his early “filler” appearances to the more fleshed-out character seen in modern films, comics, and other media, thanks to to stories like Year One. Plenty of first and second-hand participants are on hand to offer their comments including Year One producer Michael Uslan, The Long Halloween writer Jeph Loeb, Batman writer James Tynion IV, DC Comics’ Chief Creative Officer Jim Lee, and Year One original writer Frank Miller.
We also get lots of stills and clips of various Batman iterations from Golden, Silver, Bronze Age, and modern comics to the iconic 1960s TV show, Tim Burton’s 1989 film, the legendary animated series, and more. Features found on the Blu-Ray inserted from the original 2011 release is an audio commentary with voice director Andrea Romano, DC Animation creative director Mike Carlin, co-producer Alan Burnett, and co-director Sam Liu. There’s also Heart of Vengeance: Returning Batman to His Roots, Conversations with DC Comics: Featuring the 2011 Batman Creative Team, and finally The DC Showcase for “Catwoman.”