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DVD Review: Batman: Gotham Knight
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Week of Geek: Batman

Batman: Gotham Knight 2-Disc Collector's Edition
Batman: Gotham Knight
Directed by Yasuhiro Aoki, Shojiro Nishimi
Voices by Corey Burton, Kevin Conroy, Gary Dourdan, Jason Marsden, David McCallum
Warner Home Video
Release Date: July 8, 2008

Continuing with their unique advertising campaign for their upcoming summer blockbuster The Dark Knight, Warner Bros. and DC decided to put out a movie that filled gaps between this new movie, and its prequel, Batman Begins. The third in their line of DC Universe Original Animated Movies, Batman: Gotham Knight also combined six animated short films in a new storytelling format.

Starring Kevin Conroy as Batman to keep a measure of continuity between not only the six animated shorts, but also the animated Batman universe (Conroy also voices Batman in essentially all Batman animated appearances), Gotham Knight was a real treat to watch, if a little short.

The movie is made up of six short stories — Have I Got A Story For You, Crossfire, Field Test, In Darkness Dwells, Working Through Pain, and Deadshot — each one written by a different screenwriter (Josh Olson, David Goyer, Brian Azzarello, Greg Rucka, Jordan Goldberg, and Alan Burnett).

The first short is told through the eyes of four children, all of whom had witnessed Batman, but in a different manner and depiction than the others. In portraying how Gothamites must see Batman, it is a very realistic attempt. The animation had me a little freaked, until I realized that Batman was being viewed through a biased witness, and he changed from witness to witness.

Crossfire tells the story of Crispus Allen and Anna Ramirez, voiced by Gary Dourdan (CSI) and Ana Ortiz, respectively. I really liked this one, because the art was gritty, but still holding on to a semblance of reality which the first one decided to let go of. In addition, Crispus Allen is a favorite character of mine, and the obvious outcome of the story was well told.

In addition, there were some beautiful scenes towards the end, with Batman shrouded in flame and in profile that literally made your skin crawl and your spine tingle. Which, let us be fair, is exactly what Batman should make us feel.

Third place was given to Field Test, once again pushing us towards the theory that Lucius Fox is well aware of Bruce Wayne’s nighttime antics. Fox introduces a young Wayne — a good looking representation of a young Bruce Wayne for my mind — to a new piece of technology that Waynetech has been developing. In the end, Wayne declines to use it, but in doing so pushes us towards that point where we are certain that Fox is in on Batman’s game, but with a certain amount of plausible deniability between the two.

Artwork for Field Test was really nice: clean, nice lines, colors, and a nice representation of a Batman in line with the movies it comes between. Something that Christopher Nolan has tried to do is to make the movie realistic, and this short does that well.

Between all of the shorts there seems — I am certain — to run a storyline. None of them are the same story, but they do seem to take place one after another, with a variable time gap in between. But there are inconsistencies between them, such as the location of Batman’s wound that he acquires in In Darkness Dwells and presumable nearly dies from in Working Through Pain. And while the former story is a direct linkback explaining the whereabouts of The Scarecrow, the latter dwells much more in Batman’s past, and in his search for his skills.

The last one was a favorite, though it was spoiled at the end. Named Deadshot, it is hard to get confused as to who will be the villain in this short. It would be like naming the third Batman movie Batman versus Two Face and wondering if the Riddler will pop up.

Hired to take out a top man in Gotham, Deadshot rocks up and encounters Batman. A great fight sequence follows, but at the very last minute Deadshot turns into his exacty opposite; from cold tough guy to whimpering “¦ wimp! This is not the Deadshot I have known in the comics at all, and I was really disappointed, and it really took me out of the moment.

But, all in all, the six shorts made up for a really intriguing storytelling method, which I think succeeded. Not only that, but it gave some good air time to some great Japanese animation, which I think has to soon move out of the shadows and into the mainstream. This DVD got 6 out of 10 for me, and once again only continued my hype for The Dark Knight.


  1. I actually watched this last night, and I have to agree with you about the Deadshot segment… it was one of my favorites, but seemed to tail off at the end.

    My other favorite was “Field Test”, though I disliked the way Batman’s cowl was drawn/depicted. Petty I know! lol

    Comment by Keyser Soze — July 8, 2008 @ 8:55 am

  2. This sounds very promising. Good review.
    Anything to keep me occupied before I see The Dark Knight.

    Comment by Jerry — July 8, 2008 @ 12:19 pm

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