Warner Brothers Animation/DC Entertainment
Directed and Produced by Sam Liu
Screenplay by Jim Krieg
Based on the graphic novel “Gotham By Gaslight” by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola
It’s a total mystery to me why Warner Brothers doesn’t turn over their live action movie division to the guys and gals that are in charge of the animation department. Because without fail they prove time and time again that they have better understanding of the characters than the writers and directors of the live action movies. Take BATMAN: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT for example. Here we have Batman set in a Victorian Era Gotham City Vs. Jack The Ripper. And it works. Mostly because the creators of the movie and the graphic novel it’s based on get Batman.
Batman can work in a variety of genres because even though he lives and works in a superhero universe, Batman isn’t a superhero. He has more in common with Classic Pulp characters such as The Shadow (and they’ve met on more than one occasion) Doc Savage and The Spider. And he fits in quite well in the Victorian Era Gotham City just as well as in 21st Century Gotham City.
Jack The Ripper is loose in Gotham and murdering ladies of the night left and right. Despite the best efforts of Batman/Bruce Wayne (Bruce Greenwood) Police Commissioner James Gordon (Scott Patterson) District Attorney Harvey Dent (Yuri Lowenthal) and Selina Kyle (Jennifer Carpenter) Jack The Ripper somehow still manages to stay one step ahead of all of them. He even manages to frame Bruce Wayne for his murders and has him sentenced to Arkham Asylum under the psychiatric care of Dr. Hugo Strange (William Salyers)
BATMAN: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT is rated R and for once, I agree with the rating for an animated movie of this type. This is an adult Batman movie and not just because of the language or violence. And trust me, there is some graphic violence here. The subject matter earns the R rating because of the disturbing revelation of Jack The Ripper and his rationale for his crimes. It’s truly a surprise.
DC Animation never fails to be top notch in it’s animation work. This is a gorgeous movie to look at. And Bruce Greenwood has voiced Batman/Bruce Wayne before in other animated movies but I’ve never really paid attention to him as I did in this movie. I really like the scene where he sneaks Selina Kyle into the all-male Diogenes Club and he reveals how he knows her fighting skills. The voice work all around is terrific. Bruce Greenwood knows how to make Batman and Bruce Wayne sound different without mangling his voice to sound like a cancer victim like some other actors we could name.
And I can’t end this review without saying that this is probably the most disturbing Batman story ever. Once you see it I think you’ll agree. And I do recommend that you see it. It’s one of the best Batman movies, live and action or animated. No, it’s not close to “Batman: Mask of The Phantasm” but it’s thisclose.