What do you expect coming from the mind of Frank Miller...utterly a palpable and upfront vintage classic!
Writer Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns) and Artist David Mazzucchelli (Daredevil: Born Again) team up once more to bring in one of the influential take on the Caped Crusader's origins! Creating the story that encompasses the books from Batman # 404-407 on February to May 1987, Miller always brings the human nature in every one of us such as compassion, humility and at the same time hatred and violence! A young boy, deprived of his childhood when his parents was taken from him at gun point, he vows to never let this tragedy ever happen again...
Two men, Two roads, One purpose!
After a 12 year hiatus, a troubled man returns to his city, his home still carrying the burden in his heart! He came from a long journey studying all he can master from man hunting, physical and spiritual healing, the latest in science and technology and all the forms of self-defence which are all summed up with his determination! While the other, coming from another turf, he was brought in with his wife, contemplating on how he will be able to survive let alone for his new family since a new born is expected and only his fears keep him from his responsibility as a cop and soon as a father...he will need all the help he could get!
From Producer Bruce Timm (Green Lantern: First Flight), he actually pushed for this project since they started the DC Animated line-up and got put down since it was covered already by the live action film Batman Begins but there are always other ways to deliver such fantastic stories! One of the good things about these projects was that they actually stayed true to the comic which makes it more fascinating to watch! Both the Directors gave it wider depth to expand takes on the months that progresses while compensating on involved characters to maximize storytelling delivery! The comic book fans know about it and at the same time it will garner more viewers to see it transcend from the pages to the screen!
Fledging days pass like the winds dragging withered dry leaves confounded by memories of pain, corruption, passion and redemption! I like the way they instil the 80's vibe to produce an aura of noir and drama! Benjamin McKenzie (Johnny has a Gun) lends his voice to Bruce Wayne's troubled soul, his narrative take on the prodigal son has given the character an intense and yet forlorn acceptance to carry out his destiny to become the city's protector! Others say it was lifeless and yet necessary, he just read the lines true, but I still give him the benefit of the doubt not because of conforming to the script but how he made it in his own likeness!
He embarks on a dangerous path trying out his new found skills in the filthy streets, from here he meets his match but not from its thugs and pimps but from a strong willed woman whose name is Selina Kyle! Eliza Dushku (Bring It On) was perfect for Catwoman; her embodiment from a dominatrix and a thief was brought to life remarkably, making her own character seemingly to be an anti-hero, villain and later on as a heroine to be such poetic justice! While having his way with foes in the night, he will have his first of his allies, Robin Atkin Downes (Steamboy) as Harvey Dent provides Batman the needed support to take down Gotham's vilest criminals!
Now, critics gave this film mixed reactions since the premise was given more in the direction of Lt. Jim Gordon which I personally agree, even Bruce Timm himself had the same sentiments I would even name this film Jim Gordon: Year One! He even gave the job to Bryan Cranston (Street Corner Justice) who initially turned down the offer since he was not aware with these characters in the first place. But what can you say...the guy made a great impression on the fans and wants him to portray the premiere Law Enforcer in the next live action Batman films! (please make it happen, I'll sign the petition)
His early exploits with the corrupt Gotham Police Department who is headed by the wicked Commissioner Gillian Loeb voiced by Jon Polito (The Big Lebowski) with his bad boys, trigger happy SWAT Team Lead Branden and war freak Det. Arnold John Flass who is portrayed by veteran actor Fred Tatasciore (Hulk vs) running around as loose cannons making cops detestable in the community! They're spiteful camaraderie set them in a collision course into the populace with trepidation and depression, seeing that Jim does not work their way, Flass with his cohorts beat him incessantly but knowing Jim, he will not let his family get hurt he gladly returned the favour, an eye for an eye they say makes the world go blind!
Speaking of being blind, his newly transferred operative in the name of Katee Sackhoff (Bionic Woman) is Det. Sarah Essen whose infatuation for the Lieutenant has brought even more complications not just to their job as police officers but especially to their marriage! Their relationship made it more unbearable for them to work as the lesser evil dictates one has to go...
The last players being shared in the spot light are the uncle and nephew crime lords Johnny Vitti and Carmine "The Roman" Falcone played by Alex Rocco (The Godfather) who made Gotham a living hell, they had found their match and with desperation they will need more leverage than just money... the life of a father is extended to his son and blood is definitely thicker than water!
Christopher Drake's take on the soundtrack has been on a roller coaster ride, I admired it vehemently since Superman: Doomsday but the music got actively redundant in the next films that followed just changing the pace and tone while having the same melody and bass! But, the ending credits of this feature keeps ringing in my head and it even sounded like New Dawn Fades they were formerly known as Joy Division and changed their band's name to New Order following the lead vocalist's demise.
Definitely not for kids! From all DC Universe Animated titles so far, it had police brutality, sexually suggestive content, a forbidden love affair, blood, gore and nudity! The only thing missing I believe is the profanity which was toned down to have a PG rating! For me it works, the staff that delivers the goods is very commendable from Bruce, tag team Directors Sam Liu (Planet Hulk) and Lauren Montgomery (Wonder Woman), Editor Margaret Hou (Batman: Under the Red Hood), Voice Director Andrea Romano and of course the guide to films DC creates Executive Producer Michael Uslan!
I just keep praising DC Comics for their work with their two Titans, Superman and Batman both in live action and in the animation aspect, but I do hope they would find ways to expedite other projects which involves some of the brightest in the "League", these guys can always give Marvel a run for their money in these adaptations but for some reason doesn't able to uplift the likes of Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and of course Green Lantern who are also the main core of their finest team...all I'm saying is that don't wait for the "bat" to drop by and nest in your "busts"!