REVIEW: BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHT

CAST (VOICES)

Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series)
Jason Marsden (Young Justice)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
George Newbern (Justice League)
Alanna Ubach (Legally Blonde 2)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Gary Dourdan (CSI)
Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Parminder Nagra (Bend It Like Beckham)

Gotham Knight does something a little bit different from before. Basically this is a collection of six short films, all produced by different, independent Japanese Manga studios. The premise of the films is that they take place in-between Batman Begins and its sequel The Dark Knight. While no major events happen, the stories are separate, very enjoyable one-offs with a continuity that nicely links them all together. Right away, the whole thing screams `Animatrix’, and like The Animatrix, it gets a lot of stuff right. First of all, is the fact that they’ve brought in Kevin Conroy to reprise his role as the voice of Batman. And it’s as though nothing’s changed at all. Conroy has still got it, the darkness, the brooding, the menace; his Batman remains as perfect as it ever was.Another merit for Gotham Knight is that they’ve brought in such acclaimed talent like David Goyer, Brian Azzarello, Alan Burnett, Greg Rucka, Josh Olsen and Jordan Goldberg to write the different stories, and they all deliver some cracking stuff, each pinning down the basics of what makes the Batman (and Bruce Wayne) such a fascinating character; the urban myth of the Dark Knight, his relationship with the police, his `mask’ as Bruce Wayne, the road he embarked on to become what he is, his war against crime, the developing and refinement of his technology, hard learning curves and his code of honour.

The films also use the continuity established by Batman Begins to great and creative effect. Along the way, we see how great the ramifications of the events in Batman Begins truly are. The Arkham Asylum breakout making the whole Narrows island abandoned to madness is such a haunting premise, along with the Scarecrow’s reign of terror and still-at-large threat. The realistic approach established by Batman Begins is also utilised brilliantly, as we get fantastic incarnations of Killer Croc and the assassin Deadshot to provide the Dark Knight a real challenge.As for the supporting cast, we obviously have our favourites Lt. James Gordon (now in full swing with his alliance to Batman) and Alfred. We also have Detective Crispus Allen (a great favourite of mine from the comics) and Detective Anna Ramirez (a new character that appears in The Dark Knight). Both characters are used very well in the films, becoming nicely established as a result. Lucius Fox also plays a guest role here, and his sardonic friendship with Bruce Wayne is mirrored to great effect. We also have local crime bosses Sal Maroni and The Russsian serving as minor antagonists, with their war acting as a good little sub-plot. The writing is excellent, soundtrack is excellent and the voice-work goes without question. But how does the animation fare overall? I have a great deal of respect for Anime and the whole Manga style. While it personally isn’t my favourite, it can be truly spectacular.It’s a great tie-in product to the film franchise.