Batman: Year One may not be the longest of DC’s animated features, but through its high quality animation and overall storytelling, Year One gives its audience a look into Bruce Wayne’s and James Gordon’s lives before they became the characters we know and love today.
Based on the 1987 graphic novel written by Frank Miller, Year One follows the beginning of Bruce Wayne’s career as The Caped Crusader. Having finally returned from abroad after a long absence, he attempts to maximize all the skills he has learned over the years to diminish the crime that has poisoned Gotham City. Meanwhile, Lieutenant James Gordon is transferred to Gotham City with his pregnant wife and quickly learns of the corruption and violence that plagues the city. As the year goes on, the two characters attempt to rid the city of its infestations through what each considers to be justice.
The storyline follows the original source material very well. In fact, to a degree, I’d say it’s almost too well. The panels from the graphic novel come to life on screen which is a treat for any fan of Frank Miller’s infamous work. However, at the same time, the movie doesn’t take many creative liberties in giving the audience something new. Regardless, like most of DC’s Animated features, Year One‘s animation is top notch. The use of dark shadows and harsh lines perfectly match the overall tone of the film. The scene where Gordon gets his revenge on Flass is particularly disturbing especially when seeing it brought to life on screen. In fact, most of Gordon’s scenes are extremely poignant largely due to the art style and overall tone of the film. So even though there are not many creative liberties taken, it’s still very enjoyable and entertaining to watch.
However, by far the biggest disappointment to this movie is the voice acting. The acting is stinted in many of the performances, especially during any voice over segment. And, unfortunately, most of the narrative relies on long voice over segments. Ben McKenzie as Bruce Wayne is the worst offender and the voice really doesn’t fit throughout most of the movie with the exception of a monologue here or there. Bryan Cranston as James Gordon is significantly better, however, he can only do so much to save the performances. There are other decent performances, but, in all honesty, they feel wasted in comparison to the contrast in talent between the two leads. In fact, this is probably some of the worst voice acting in any DC movie. And, unfortunately, it’s mostly due to our favorite Caped Crusader.
Year One may not be the best of DC’s animated movies but it still provides enough entertainment to keep its audience interested. And even though it may not be the best of the bunch, it’s short and, aside from the voice acting, painless. Anyone that wants to see one of their favorite story arcs come to life should definitely check this movie out.
Have you seen Batman: Year One? What are your thoughts on it? Share your thoughts in the comments and Twitter!