Special Edition Podcast

07.17.2008 – Batman: Gotham Knight

Show Notes

iFanboy Special Edition Podcast: Batman Gotham Knight
TRT: 00:21:13

Conor Kilpatrick is joined by iFanboy staff writers Paul Montgomery and Jim Mroczkowski to discuss the latest in DC’s straight-to-DVD animated movies, Batman: Gotham Knight.  On the eve of the release of The Dark Knight, how will an anime anthology about Batman rate?  The answer may surprise you!

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Comments

  1. Brandino says:

    That was…okay. Personally, I would have liked a more in-depth review. There was no mention of the connecting elements throughout the stories such as the guns, the mafia vs. Russian, and the assassination of the community leader. And really didn’t get into the specifics as to what you did and didn’t like (except for baby-face Bruce Wayne). 

    I think the Batmanime worked a lot better than any of the other DC animation movies. Instead of cramming an epic story into 90 minutes, you have a collection of vignettes that are free to tell their stories. While some parts work better than other, as a whole it accomplishes what it was intended to.

    Personally I think DC would be better off releasing "All-Star" versions of characters to introduce new people to its creations than slavishly serve fanboys with truncated versions of popular stories. But that’s just me.

     

  2. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    The connective elements didn’t really register with me.  I took each story on its own.

  3. Brandino says:

    It does a decent job of setting up some minor plot-points for "Dark Knight" as well.

  4. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @Brandino – Yeah, it did, but being the only one of the three who saw DARK KNIGHT I didn’t want to spoil anything.

    I’m also going to disagree with you on DC’s Animated Movie strategy.  If they can make their adaptations that both new people and the book fans can enjoy – a la THE NEW FRONTIER – then that’s the smart play.

  5. Blindrift Blindrift says:

    As a note the animation in the first segment isnt all that unusual it used in quite frequently. I agreed with the voice of batman I was happy with hearing Conroy but also really confused cause of the conflict between the voice and the image. I think this film is for anyone that likes batman or is into high quality japanese animation. I personally enjoyed both sides while a friend mine just watched it for the animation being anime fan and not a batman fan. Its like any comic book or animated feature it can be enjoyed on many levels.

  6. NealAppeal NealAppeal says:

    I thought Working Through Pain was the best. With Deadshot as a close second.

  7. Brandino says:

    @Conor: No I don’t blame you for not talking about the "spoilers". I saw the "Dark Knight" this morning and was pleased they made connections. That’s all.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree about the DC Animated Movie stuff. I just think it be easier to introduce people who may have some familiarity to a character to a gestalt, best-of version of a character. Wonder Woman comes to mind. I know a lot of girls and guys love her as an icon or from the TV show but may not know all the particulars- her being made out of clay, Olympian roots, etc. Of course we don’t need another supes/bats origin, but I think WW is much less known than the other of the trinity due to not having a movie/live action TV show/cartoon in the recent past and getting people familiar with her and characters below her status sounds like a good idea to me- and if written well it should incorporate that character’s origin without making it just an origin tale. I dunno.

  8. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @Brandino – That might be what they are doing with the next one.  I have heard nothing about the plot, but there really isn’t one iconic Wonder Woman story to adapt that I can think of, so it might just be a general movie.

  9. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    According to Wikipedia, this is the Wonder Woman plot:

    "On the mystical island of Themyscira, a proud and fierce warrior race of Amazons have raised a daughter of untold beauty, grace and strength: Princess Diana. When an Army fighter pilot, Steve Trevor, crash-lands on the island, the rebellious and headstrong Diana defies Amazonian law by accompanying Trevor back to civilization. Meanwhile, Ares (the god of War) has escaped his imprisonment at the hands of the Amazonians and has decided to exact his revenge using the mystical “Hand of Rage,” an ancient artifact with the power to raise armies from the dead and infuse them with a thirst for blood. Ares intends to start a world war that will not only last for centuries – but will wipe out every living being on the planet, starting with the Amazons. It is up to Princess Diana to save her people and the world – by using her gifts and becoming the ultimate Wonder Woman."

    Sounds like a general movie to me.

  10. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    Ah, it’s a loose adaptation of George Perez’s "Gods & Mortals" storyline, which is still pretty general.

  11. gene gene says:

    If you like the style from the Deadshot story, check out Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, and that Samurai segment in Animatrix.

  12. AndyLawler says:

    I have to agree with the generally negative tone of the review. I’m a huge fan of the DC animated universe, as is my wife and two children. A new DCU movie, whether New Fronter or Doomsday is an event in the home. We all settled in to watch.

     I have to say, it made me less interested in seeing Dark Knight, although of course I will.  However it was dark, and disturbing, which is not bad if it is also entertaining, which by and large it was not.  We probably won’t watch it again.

  13. Tork Tork says:

    I wasn’t so bothered by the mob fight in Crossfire as you guys seem to have been.  For what I watched, Cris and Anna drove in while the mob guys were driving in and once, they realized what was going on, neither side cared about innocent casualties enough to call off the shooting.  The only real problem I had with the short was the Russian’s ridiculous design (that oddly completely changed in the next short).

  14. Brandino says:

    @Tork- I agree with you. I think that was pretty spelled out. Anna wanted to talk to Crispus about quiting the MCU and they got caught up in a gang fight. Lord knows why gangsters would have a a shoot out face to face with no cover, but I take it from Rucka’s commentary at the Chicago Wizard World’s BGK presentation that this was more the animation studies translation than anything implicitly in the script he wrote. But the Batman walking thru the fire more than makes up for that choice of presentation. 

  15. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    Oh, the walking through the fire thing was badass. 

  16. Paul Montgomery PaulMontgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    …it’s a solid rental.  

  17. Eyun Eyun says:

    Overall, I liked it. I think the story where he’s wandering through the sewers injured (Working Through Pain) may have been my favourite. Not so keen on some of the animation – it’s well done just not my style – and I agree that Conroy’s voice felt a bit off.

    Would it have been that hard to get Christian Bale to do the voiceover? If he’s under contract to do the video games is this much different? Plus there’s not a huge amount of dialogue from Batman.

    Ah well, solid rental, agreed. 

  18. Kimbo Kimbo says:

    I was really put off by he voice acting too.  Hearing Conroy in this kept taking me out of it for some reason.  I also agree with Jimski that the brown coloring over most of it was rather dull and kind of added to my feeling bored through most of it.  But the last couple are the best of the piece in my opinion.  It takes a loooong time to get there though.

  19. Jim Mroczkowski Jimski (@jimski) says:

    All right, dammit. I need you guys to help me. I want to live. I want to have joy in my life. Genuinely, I don’t want to be a codger.

    What is so good about "Walking Through Pain"? What things did you like about it that made it one of the best segments of the film? (The part where Batman spends the entire segment groaning and writhing, or the part where Bruce Wayne unleashes the power of the Dragonballs on those street toughs?)

  20. Kimbo Kimbo says:

    I think the animation style and it was the only one that really delved into Bruce becoming Batman.  Plus it had that really interesting visual storytelling thing at the end where he’s holding the guns like he can’t get out from under the violence he’s surrounded by. 

    Plus, considering the competition, how could it and Deadshot not stand out?

  21. OttoBott OttoBott says:

    Eh, I’m with Jimski, I didn’t really care for Working through Pain for those reasons. And I felt like 3 out of 5 of those stories underlined everything I dislike about anime – belabored scripting, loooooongg still shots (use it too much and it just loses all of it’s impact for me), and also almost compulsive and constant introspection that just drives me batty.

     Har Har.

     My favorite was probably the 1st story and the Scarecrow one (I think).  Deadshot was okay too.

  22. OttoBott OttoBott says:

    Eh, actually the bullet-shield story was pretty cool too. Maybe I liked it more then I thought…

  23. Paul Montgomery PaulMontgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    They need to do a Gotham Central dvd.  There had been talks of a WB live action series, but I can’t help but think that a couple of direct to dvd animated projects is the best route right now.  Probably the top on my list of things I’d like to see adapted for screen.  

  24. Eyun Eyun says:

    @Jimski – Maybe it was just me, but I liked that story most because, like Batman Begins, it showed Batman as a human. Injured, wounded, desperate, and having to deal with the very real threats that his choice to be a vigilante poses. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing hero shot of Batman walking through fire or crouching on rooftops, but seeing the consequences of his actions makes him more real. Which is why he’s my favourite superhero. Like I said, could just be me, eveyone’s got different tastes.

    @PaulMontgomery – They’ll never make it, but I’d love to see a Nightwing animated movie. 

  25. I liked Road House Better.

  26. jedidan jedidan says:

    Different…very different…and I liked it a lot. I must say I really like what DC is doing here. I started with Superman Doomsday, then on to The New Frontier, and now the Batman Gotham Knight. All three stand alone. It’s not like an ongoing Marvel animation, not to bash Marvel, I’m just saying I can sit back and pop in any one of the DC movies and walk away feeling like I’m watching some new and fresh each time. That is what grabs me. 

     …btw, I’m not sure who it was, Paul or Jim, I think Jim…but damn. Go watch New Frontier.  

  27. Tork Tork says:

    One thing after seeing Dark Knight– Why does Maroni rock the porno-tasche here?  He doesn’t even look like how Maroni looked in the movie… at all.  Plus, why the Russian guy for the other gangster?  Why not Gambol?

  28. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @Tork – You ask these question when Bruce Wayne was a Japanese man?  It’s the anime interpretations of these characters.

  29. Tork Tork says:

    Well, Bruce looks like the anime representation of the movie Bruce, which typically is very indistingishable between white and Japanese.  Bruce looked like a slightly younger Roger Smith when he looked Japanese which is what I kind of expected.  Maroni, on the other hand, looked oddly different for no real reason.  Jim Gordon looks the same as the movie, Anna Ramirez looks the same, Alfred either looks like the comics Alfred or movie Alfred, but Maroni looked like Ted Levine for some reason I can’t quite figure out.  I do believe Eric Roberts was among the first that were cast so I actually thought Roberts might have had the bushy mustache for the movie and when he didn’t, I was somewhat confused for a slight moment.

  30. So far, DC has done a pretty kick ass job with their animated films….at least a lot better then Marvel.

    Superman: Doomsday was a pretty nice adaptation of ‘Death of Superman’, without going threw the long and convoluted return of Sups. New Frontier was fucking amazing, even if it took out a lot from the book. You can just tell that DC is committed to these films and going into Gotham Knight I was expecting the same stuff.

    Sadly after the first 20mins I was wondering when I should go to Best Buy and return the DVD. Don’t get me wrong, the animation is great; even if I’m not a fan of anime (or as much like when I was young). But the voice-acting is pretty poor and it’s weird to me not to hear Bale, Murphy, or Oldman in their respective parts. I know they’re big time actors but christ, you couldn’t stay in a room for an hour or two to record lines? Not saying that Conroy isnt the best fucking Batman ever, but I also feel that he is a bit out of place with the style of the film. Batman: TAS worked for Conroy cause it was a much older Batman, but it doesnt work here cause we’re to assume that he is a young, 20ish man and doesnt sound like he’s taken a full punches to the the throat.

    But as the film went along I started to like it a bit more. It had a good story of Scarecrow, a good idea why Batman doesnt use defenses like shields, and made Deadshot a more revelent in the DCU. Yes that’s why I love these two films and this animated short; it’s using (some-what) realistic villians not not go out there like a Spider-Man Villian. Ra? He is a terrorist so he’s real. Scarecrow? Not hard to make a chemical now a days to make people go bat s*** crazy so he’s real. Joker? Again just get a crazed mad man and you got yourself a real person. Finally, although with a bizarre costume, Deadshot is real cause he’s just a normal hitman. Sure Croc was in this, but overall this new Bats universe is realistic which is an approach which I’ve seen….oh never!

    So yeah, in short the film was okay, not great. Animated was good, but with some poor stories and acting I would recommend it as a rental and not as a buy. But yeah a Wonder Woman film is next….I’m sure that’ll sell like hotcakes. *rolls eyes*

  31. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @TheNextChampion – They couldn’t work out the various schedules to have the movie actors voice this film, as was originally the plan.

  32. bfkiller says:

    I must have liked Gotham Knight more than… pretty much anyone else who has seen Gotham Knight because most of the reactions have been pretty lukewarm.  I absolutely loved it and it might even be my favourite comic book movie I’ve seen this year (though I’m sure The Dark Knight will have something to say to me about that this Sunday night).

     It reminded me quite a bit of the anthology Batman: Black & White.  The vignettes in either don’t give much room to develop a story arc.   The writers instead focus on exploring very specific elements of the mystique of Batman or how Bruce Wayne is able to do what he does.  In Gotham Knight, we see how children interpret the mystery that is Batman; later we gain insight into Bruce’s sense of obligation to sacrifice himself for the citizens of Gotham; etc.  I always enjoy it when a complex hero is dissected by good writers.  Most animated movies are more gutteral than cerebral, so this was a nice change of pace.

  33. @bfkiller – I’m with you!

    Being a huge fan of the B&W anthologies, I saw this movie pretty much being in the same manner. Absolutely loved the first episode, but each piece had its moments. The last episode being the one that played closely within the "rules" of what comicbook fans would expect of a superhero cartoon/anime to follow. This is movie for diehard Batman fans who can respect various interpretations of the Batman. In a way, I would even go so far to suggest that this film breaks from the "rules" of what came before in Batman animation much like how All Star Batman & Robin does in the Bat-verse of comics.

     

  34. dtaube says:

    I thought Gotham Knight was really good. The only negative would be the places where the Kevin Conroy voice did not quite fit. Probably the reason they used him was less cynical than suggested on the podcast. Nearly every review I listened to about "New Frontier" had people talking about how unnerving it was to see an animated batman not voiced by Kevin Conroy. Probably had a fair amount to do with that. I think people, unfortunately, are pretty inflexible when it comes to what they want in a Batman story. I think the only reason so many people preferred the Deadshot story was because that was the only traditional one of the bunch. Every other short in this collection took some kind of artistic risk, which I thought with a character as firmly established as Batman was pretty courageous. I think that people who don’t like this or hit their "remain" button while they are watching are more interested in predictable story-telling and not so interested in artistic innovation.

  35. Jim Mroczkowski Jimski (@jimski) says:

    dtaube, I am sorry I did not like the thing you liked. Diplomatically, I would contend that one does not repeatedly check the clock while watching something because it is too unpredictable; the opposite seems more likely. In fact I would concede that it was not a predictable movie, in the sense that I would have predicted something would happen in the last 45 minutes of it.

    As for "artistic innovation," it seems to me that this entire project’s existence is based on being like existing things. Being like familiar anime, being like the movie… the first story is apparently exactly like a 15-year-old episode of the animated series. I don’t know what to tell you, other than the fact that not liking something you liked isn’t necessarily proof the other guy is a plebian dummy. There are any number of things that prove I’m a plebain dummy way better than this.

  36. dtaube says:

    Jimski, definitely didn’t mean to imply you are a plebian dummy. Just that in hearing reviews for this and other things where people are going in a less than conventional route, it’s frustrating when there seems to be little patience for trying something a little different. I am familiar with the "legends of the dark knight" episode but the look of this was so far removed from it that I appreciated what I perceived as a real risk. I am not at all familiar with anime so I am not used to seeing things like this with mainstream animation. I think that with a character as well known as Batman people have very specific ideas with what the character should look like, act like, etc. Perhaps innovation was too strong a word but certainly they took a lot of risks with this project, that was the aspect of it I really appreciated.

  37. The first episode is not "exactly like a 15 year-old episode of TAS." If one were to attempt to make that point, they would be walking a foot-bridge made of rotting wood. Just seeing a head fall to the ground is 2 seconds of footage that goes immensely beyond what the original episode (of which is put on the the second disc of GK) had to tell. In fact, it was this original episode of TAS that went for minimal originality, adapting comic stories near true to form on screen (which there is nothing wrong with when purposefully taken as the direction… except the film’s artist is eating the comicbook artist’s vision purely.)  "Artistic innovation" at its minimalist. Perhaps Timm put his take on that second disc to show the audience what can be enjoyed from a creation from "rules" within the box and from those from outside of the box. Again, it really comes down to personal tastes and acceptance of various interpretations.

  38. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    Whether or not you liked this movie aside, the first episode in BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHT *is* exactly like "Legends of the Dark Knight" in its premise.  That’s not disputable.

  39. Kids sit around and tell various classic Batman stories.

    Kids sit around and tell one Batman story linked together that plays out to their presence.

    All we can take from the two is that kids are sitting around talking about Batman. In that, I agree there is the simple link.

  40. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    It’s kids sitting around telling stories that reflect their impressions of Batman.  It’s the exact same premise.

  41. And I’m saying that. Simply. Are you a last word guy? ;-)

  42. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    No, but it’s much more than a simple link, it’s a clear homage to the old show.  You saidThe first episode is not "exactly like a 15 year-old episode of TAS." and I dispute that.

  43. I’m not denying that it is a clear homage to the old show. I am merely suggesting that the premise has been remade in a vision that goes beyond the "rules" of what takes place in a Batman animated setting.

  44. BIbliomike BIbliomike says:

    Never having seen the Batman TAS I can’t weigh in on the great debate of "homage and/or reinvention," but I will say that first installment was my favorite on the whole disc.  I think Batman is such a pop culture icon that anyone who was "uninitiated" watching this story would immediately figure out that we had a multiple p.o.v., "blind men touching the elephant" story going on.  It was well-structured, well-acted and well-paced, and had a satisfying sense of closure.  By far the best installment (which is a shame, since it was the first!).

    I liked the concept of Bruce learning from the Indian woman — that philosophical training made a nice counterpart to the physical training we saw him get in "Batman Begins" — but I think the disc as a whole would’ve been stronger if that storyline had been spread out among all the other installments.  I realize that wasn’t the plan, so maybe it’s not fair to criticize the film for what it wasn’t — still, I would’ve done it differently.

    I didn’t care for the animation style much at all (except in that first installment, where it really works to the advantage of the storytelling), but I thought the writing was decent enough.  I like the idea of Batman rejecting a personal force field because it could inadvertently wound innocent (or in this case even not-so-innocent) bystanders.  Overall, a strong effort that maybe could have benefitted by being a more traditionally unified movie.

  45. I kind of liked it.  That is all.

  46. s30 s30 says:

    I read the Gotham Knight novel. It brought all these stories together in one story. It was pretty bad. It completely killed the short stories by putting them in this format. The thing I liked about it was reading how the writer intertwined the stories, but even that wasnt too good, because it wasnt completely faithful to the story. I thought it was a load of shit. I read it to the end, so maybe there was some ubconcious part of me that liked it? I dunno, just stay the hell away from it.

    And I loved the voice of Batman for New Frontier. I dunno what it was, but I thought it seemed so right with Cooke’s portrayal.

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