By Delta_Ass 1 Comments
Just watched Batman Year One. It's not bad.
In a nutshell: Incredibly faithful to the source material. Probably the most faithful DC animated film so far, I'd say. Which is great, because Miller's comic is a masterpiece. However, while the JLA New Frontier film was way too short for its lengthy source material and suffered because of it, this film had the opposite problem in feeling a bit dragged out, because the comic itself was rather short.
Bryan Cranston does a great job with Gordon. He needed to, because this is in many ways Gordon Year One. His performance has to carry the film and it does. Almost the entire voice cast did a great job, in fact. The surprise performance for me was Katie Sackhoff as Det. Essen. I'd always considered Sackhoff as way too... well, butch to pull it off, but she sounded great. You'd never guess this was Starbuck behind the voice.
Two big issues with the voice acting though. The first is Ben McKenzie as Batman. Now, just from the promo clips they released, I thought he was a mistake. The voice just sounded wrong. And now that I've watched the whole thing, I uh... I pretty much stand by my initial assessment. The guy just doesn't do a good job, even though he actually doesn't have that many lines. But it sounds like someone's very first voice acting job, which considering this is Ben McKenzie, might well be the truth. The voice itself isn't the whole problem though, because the delivery is just awful. It's wooden and dull and stilted. I'm not one of those guys who demands that Kevin Conroy voice everything Batman, either. Thought Bruce Greenwood did an admirable job in Under the Red Hood, for example. Anybody can voice Batman as long as it's good. Here, it's just not. This is Batman Year One, but it doesn't need to be Voice Acting Year One as well.
Second voice that rubbed me the wrong way was Flass. Now, Flass is a big hulking corrupt cop, but they really went over the top and cartoonish here. He ends up almost sounding like a cartoon gorilla. Yeah, we get it, he's corrupt and not a nice guy, but I would've preferred a more subtle approach.
The animation itself was obviously done by an anime studio, but the character designs are pure Mazzucchelli. Everyone looks right out of the comic book. I'm generally not a fan of anime, but it worked fine here. Sometimes the streets look a bit too barren and empty, and there was one shot of a tree falling over that looked incredibly simplistic and lazy, if you're looking to nitpick.
The dark and gritty nature of Frank Miller's story is fully intact, most notably Selina Kyle's prostitution gig. In fact, given that we see a 13-14 year old girl prostitute, this easily makes Year One DC's darkest and most mature animated feature to date.
Overall, this is a very very faithful rendition of Frank Miller's origin story, with the only real problem being Ben McKenzie's voice, and that's probably gonna come down to personal preference. I dislike it, but maybe it's just me. Should people buy it right now for full price? Considering it's only 64 minutes, I can't say you should. But in a few months when the price drops, if you're a big fan of Batman, I'd definitely recommend this.
Wonder Woman remains DC's best animated film in my opinion.