I wanted to like Batman: Gotham Knight; really, I did. When the similarly-constructed The Animatrix was released years ago, I put off watching it only to finally realize how spectacular the collection of shorts really was. Given that success, this time around, I picked up Gotham Knight immediately, eager to see what Studio 4C, MADHOUSE and the other companies came up with. Unfortunately, unlike with The Animatrix, I left the film with a definite sense of "meh."
Don’t get me wrong – the premise is solid. Taking place between the Hollywood blockbusters Batman Begins and Batman: The Dark Knight, Gotham Knight features six short stories about Bruce Wayne as he takes down bad guys and works his way towards enlightenment. There are numerous villains to foil, a lot of ass-kicking to be done, and a few cameos from old 'friends' such as the Scarecrow.
Sounds great, right? I'm not sure why, but it just doesn’t work.
Maybe it's how disjointed and unconnected the stories are, even though they're shown back to back as if they are a movie; maybe it’s the lack of a good old-fashioned epic battle; or maybe it's the lack of charm and mystery that made Batman Begins such a classic. Whatever the case, while interesting, few of the tales will grab your attention and hold on tight; I doubt that many people - fanboys aside - will find them memorable. Of the sextuplet, I found Bruce's tale of mental conditioning in "Working Through Pain" to be the most compelling, and the whimsical "Have I Got a Story for You" to be the most charming and fun to watch.
Overall Gotham Knight is an interesting and fun hour and a half diversion; just don’t expect the collection of adventures to wow you.
MADHOUSE, Studio 4C, Bee Train and even Production I.G. had a hand in Gotham Knight’s animation, and it shows. It's easy to pick out Studio 4C's contributions: "Have I Got a Story for You" could be a carbon copy of the recent Tekkon Kinkreet (horrifically-ugly character designs and all), and my favorite, "Working Through Pain," shows off the studio's strong points - fluid battles, and occasionally gorgeous character designs. MADHOUSE’s creations are equally as easy to spot, with Highlander-esque, comic book-style designs in the otherwise-boring "Deadshot," and unattractively-gritty backgrounds and characters in "In Darkness Dwells." "Crossfire" is straight up Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex, and Bee Train dazzles with special effects such as a very realistic golf ball in "Field Test."
Easily the most interesting aspect of the animation is the different depictions of Batman, who ranges from a robot in "Have I Got a Story for You" to a bona fide badass you’d never want to mess with in "Deadshot." You’ll choose a few favorites and wish a few hadn’t reached the light of day – which for me was the curvy, beak-like mask that came straight out of an old Tezuka film.
Other faults aside, Gotham Knight does have an outstanding soundtrack filled with dark orchestral melodies and decent voice acting. While the stories might disappoint you, what you hear will not.
With such a uniquely-varied individual as Batman at the helm, I expected ample character development throughout the shorts. It’s true that "Working Through Pain" is a moving and near-epic look at Bruce Wayne and the depths to which he’ll go to reach enlightenment, but the other shorts fare far more poorly. We're shown glimpses of Batman’s psyche, but little else is shown to us of other characters. I would have loved to see the secondary folks be developed more, and Batman to receive more depth throughout the rest of the episodes.
Gotham Knight is a solid 1.5 hour watch for those who want to see more from the Batman universe, and is visually impressive for those who want a bit of variety. Others - fanboys aside - however, will probably see the compilation for what it is: disjointed, unengaging, and otherwise forgettable. Worth seeing once for the hype, the sometimes attractive animation and the stellar "Working Through Pain," but worth skipping for everything else.
Batman: a name known throughout the streets of Gotham City, a name kids tell urban legends about and criminals fear. Batman continues to purge Gotham City from the filth that is roaming the streets. After having received Lt. Gordon’s complete trust, he is implicated in all kinds of police affairs, the first of which is the capture of the mysterious robber referred to as the "man in black". Through this ordeal and many others including an encounter with the Killer Croc and Scarecrow, Batman will try to find out more about the dark city’s underground and make his way to become Gotham’s Dark Knight.
My fav genres include sci fi and horror, but you'll find a lot of obscure reviews from me too, given I watch a ton to add to the database. My new reviews are written a lot better than my old ones, so when in doubt, sort by date! ^_^ Enjoy, and I welcome any and all feedback.