GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT (Film Review)
Review by Talon
The Gotham Knight in a Victorian setting? Sounds interesting, but how well do DC with Sam Liu manage to pull this off.
For those who do not follow ‘The Nerd Dimension’ podcast, I have to provide a slight disclaimer – I am a big Batman fan, primarily his depiction by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini of Batman The Animated Series (BTAS) era. That being said I hope to be critical as I should be.
The concept of putting Bruce Wayne in Victorian Era comes from a somewhat cult classic One Shot of the same name from 1989 which was the result of a strong team up of Brian Augustyn, Mike Mignola with inks by P. Craig Russell. It focuses on the Caped Crusaders fictional battle with the infamous Jack the Ripper the notorious never identified serial killer of 1888 London. The notion is an interesting one and I definitely was curious to see how faithfully the story transitioned to the film format.
I believe the team were attempting to recapture the feeling of BTAS to a degree and I feel finding Bruce Timm as an executive producer of the project lends credibility to the idea. Having mentioned all this, unfortunately, I feel that unlike BTAS the story falls back into the realm of simplicity with less character development making it more skewed to younger viewers. That being said, it is most definitely an enjoyable watch and one of the best-animated transformations of a comic book to a film which has been a strong trend the last decade or so. The previous statement comes with a disclaimer though if you are not into the Victorian setting and into the Dark Knight this may not be the most enjoyable move you could choose to watch.
The original Elseworld´s one shot piece was a quick read at 52 pages, and was for of a sparring or testing of an environment and its mechanics, specifically a Victorian Era Gotham. In my humble opinion, it was a well-done piece, albeit lacking the usual level of mystery and suspense I enjoy but that is in kind due to the aforementioned length of the piece itself. This I feel would have been an interesting direction the Dark Knight could have went down, a graphic novel would have been interesting to see. *
The animated incarnation I feel attempted to add to something cosmetically using, in my humble opinion, commonplace or fairly used mechanics and tropes to ‘beef up’ a shorter story with a somewhat predictable ending. Though I enjoyed how they added certain characters which weren’t in the original piece, I feel it did little for the whole especially the addition of classic love-hate relationship of Selena Kyle for political correctness or ‘playing it safe’ but detracted from the focus of the material which was I feel the exploration of a different type of Gotham.
A different Gotham not just geographically per Se but I would imagine rather contrasting to today’s more neo-liberal politically correct society. This piece could have been a form of study of the different ways our characters could have come to be in their positions, the different vocations they might be engaged in even expected gender role examinations with clever twists would be welcomed in my view.
All in all the video carnation of Gotham by Gaslight is definitely worth a watch and compared to most animation being released today the more mature rating is welcomed as the film overall quality when measured against similar comic book animated releases. This being said it could have been better, adding maybe more time to the film or simply removing the (I feel forced) characters who were added post source material which would have allowed possibly for more time to allow the environment to be explored and for us to gain more for a feel of the different characters.
All in all, this is probably one the best animated incarnations of our beloved Batman and is a strong 8/10
* The One Shot came with two stories from that Era in the edition. This tale is a little longer is called Master of the Future and is set 11 months after the events of Gotham by Gaslight.
All images used are property of DC Comics and associate/affiliates and I claim no rights over them.