I was giddy when I heard Bruce Timm, producer of the fantastic Batman: The Animated Series, was doing a new full-length Batman movie, and I was over the moon when I heard the movie was going to be done in Japanese anime style.
Unfortunately, the movie is a mixed bag.
Batman: Gotham Knight isn’t actually a feature-length film: It is a series of short stories loosely tied together to form a larger story arc. I found half the stories to be well done and interesting, and the other half … weren’t.
In a strange move, they decided to have each story done in a completely different art style, though they are all very anime. The result is that Batman looks different in each story, making it difficult to get into the different stories. This multiple art style trick worked all right in The Animatrix, where there was virtually no overlap between the different stories, but here, where the stories are supposed to be connected, the use of different styles diminishes the impact of the various stories. And quite frankly, some of the Batmen look really bad.
The first Batman is about 15 pounds overweight, the third looks ridiculous, and the art in the forth is all-around terrible.
In its defense, Batman: Gotham Knight features the voice work of the magnificent Kevin Conroy, who provided the voice for Batman in The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, and The Justice League. To me, his voice is as much Batman’s as Peter Cullen’s voice is Optimus Prime’s.
I’ll also say this, the last story is by far the best, and very fullfilling on its own. Titled “Deadshot,” the story revolves around the notorious assassin Deadshot coming to Gotham to spill some blood, and the inevitable face off between him and the Batman. The characters are spot on, the story is interesting, the animation is great, and it is full of action. Honestly, if the whole film was like this the movie would have been a home-run.
I feel like mentioning, too, that the stories here are clearly in the Nolan Batman Begins universe, and not the Bruce Timm animated universe, though they jump through some hoops to try and obscure that (for reasons I can only guess). I’m not surprised they did that, but it’s not really used all that effectively.