The story follows the first year Gordon spends on the force and Bruce Wayne’s initial attempts at vigilantism. The feature runs about 70 minutes yet it feels like a complete experience and not some kiddie flick knock off. The Dark Knight’s universe lends itself well to animation (obviously) and here the designers have gone with a retro-noir look that recalls Polanski’s Chinatown crossed with Alex Proyas’ Dark City. The environment feels lived in and dreadful.
It has been years since I cracked the pages of my original edition Batman: Year One comic book and my recollections of the plot were a little hazy. It was to the point of being genuinely surprised at the plot developments and story arcs, particularly a subplot involving Lt. Gordon’s illicit affair with a co-worker. Like I said pretty heavy stuff for an animated feature released under a banner recognized for catering to young boys. Batman: Year One carries a PG-13 rating and the picture earns it. It also earns my respect for being a classy production with good voice work from its starry cast members and provoking an emotional response from this reviewer.
I’m not sure if there are plans to continue the series and bring to the screen the rest of Miller’s epic story arc, but based on Year One I think the creative team is off to a great start and I eagerly await the follow-ups. Not only is it the best animated feature of the year, but also one of the year’s best films period.
Director: Sam Liu, Lauren Montgomery
Stars: Bryan Cranston, Ben McKenzie, Eliza Dushku