Movie Review: Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (No Spoilers)

 

BB2A7983-E779-462B-9F4B-1D184598F835Review by Paul Wright

An R-Rated, animated Batman movie, that’s essentially, Batman Vs. Jack The Ripper? To quote the great Kevin Smith “Fuck you. Take my money.”. Batman by Gaslight adopts a storytelling device often seen in comics called ”Elseworlds”. “Elseworlds” are basically one off stories where you take a familiar hero and and put them in a unique setting or story they normally wouldn’t be in. It’s a “What If…” story, essentially. For example, What if baby Superman’s spaceship crashed in Soviet Russia instead of Kansas? Or What if Batman hunted Jack The Ripper in Victorian-Era Gotham City? The original graphic novel of the same name that the movie is based on, with art by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, was too short to be adapted to a feature length film. So, the filmmakers had to add to the story, which is fun if you’ve read the graphic novel because you’re getting something that’s both a strong adaptation and completely new tale at the same time.

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A panel from the original graphic novel

It’s a great premise that’s a natural fit for the character. Batman’s often referred to as “The World’s Greatest Detective” in the comics, so I loved seeing Batman in a real mystery where he has to use his skills as a detective as much as his skills as a fighter. Batman’s incredible detective abilities are rarely utilized enough outside of comics. It doesn’t hurt that the whole story takes place in a world that looks very much like the city of fictions other great detective and one of the inspirations for Batman, Sherlock Holmes (there’s a small Sherlock Holmes reference that only true Sherlockians will get). The movie looks like it’s was pulled out of the pages of an Arthur Conan Doyle story, which adds to the movie’s cool, steampunk, murder mystery vibe.

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A blimp crashing into a Gotham City building.

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Bruce Greenwood plays Bruce Wayne/Batman in this film and besides Kevin Conroy, I think he’s my favorite Batman voice actor. He’s played Batman before in movies like Batman: Under The Red Hood (one of the best DC Animated Movies) and the excellent Young Justice animated series, returning for it’s third season later this year. Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter) does some great work as Selina Kyle, but I don’t think they ever call her Catwoman in the movie. Besides Batman, Selina Kyle has the most to do in this movie. She’s basically Batman’s partner in solving the murders. She’s taking matters into her own hands because she knows if the victims were rich, white men instead of poor women, the police would be doing a lot more. At the very end she has a little damsel in distress moment I wasn’t crazy about, but other wise she’s an ass kicking badass who is more or less Batman’s equal.

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Batman and Selina Kyle

Of course, it fun to see Victorian-era versions of the wide array of characters from Batman’s world. I wont spoil all the fun cameos, but you get to see characters from Hugo Strange to Solomon Grundy throughout the story. Unfortunately, a lot of the supporting cast isn’t as fleshed out as Batman and Selina Kyle which is definitely a big weakness in the film.

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Prof. Hugo Strange

This movie takes full advantage of it’s R-Rating. This is easily one of the more bloody and gorey DC Animated Movies made so far. The real life Ripper Murders always struck me as particularly brutal and vicious. The movie does a good job of conveying that THIS Jack The Ripper is a terrifying butcher as well.

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Jack The Ripper

One of the things that made this version of Jack The Ripper work for me is that he was a physical match for Batman. This isn’t the same Batman that could kick the shit out of Superman. Batman gets pretty fucked up a few times in this movie. We’ve seen Batman fight armies of alien invaders and beings with all kinds of super abilities and come out fine. But the fact that The Ripper is just a man and he comes so close to killing Batman makes him much more frightening. Compared to other Batman animated movies recently, the stakes may seem lower but they feel higher than ever. This story isn’t “canon”, so characters who wouldn’t normally be on the chopping block could be taken out at anytime, which give the movie a nice edge.

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Another look at The Ripper

Stylistically, this film has stepped away from the more anime inspired look that much of the other DC Animated Movies have adopted. Instead, the animation style is more traditional, without sacrificing quality. Including several great fights and action sequences. There a few showdowns between Batman and The Ripper that are particularly well done.

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Having never read the original graphic novel, I didn’t know who The Ripper was while watching the movie (and this being Gotham City it could be almost literally ANYONE). So, it was fun not knowing where the story was going, but I did know The Ripper is NOT the same character from the original graphic novel. I’m definitely going to grade on a curve here, because as I’ve said before the quality of the DC Animated Movies has dipped over the past few years and I feel this is a huge step in the right direction. I have a feeling that the movie seemed a lot better than it actually was because the quality of the DC Animated films hasn’t been as consistent lately

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Batman on his steampunk motorcycle

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is fun little Batman mystery, taking place in a interesting setting. Whether you’re a fan of Batman, these animated movies, or you just happened to see the trailer and were intrigued, I would definitely recommend this movie. While not without it’s flaws, It is without a doubt one of the best DC animated movies that we’ve seen in a long time. Let’s hope they keep this momentum going into their next movies…

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is available on iTunes now and the Blu-Ray will be released on 2/6/2018

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight – 8.4/10

Thanks for reading!
-Paul

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FIRST LOOK: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

 

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The cast of  Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

I haven’t spoken much about it on any of our podcasts or written about it in any of my articles, but I’m a huge, huge fan of the Harry Potter books. I really believe they’ll go down in history, remembered as some of the best fantasy literature of our time. For the most part, I’m also a big fan of the films as well. There were some things that were fundamentally flawed to them, but to get such a beloved series done that well, over eight films is a huge accomplishment. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Parts One and Two were probably the best of the films.
But my favorite moments in the books were always quiet, character driven moments. Like an emotional and distraught Harry venting to Dumbledore in his office after the death of Sirius Black. Or seeing the real reason Snape hated Harry so much, when Harry gets a glimpse in a pensive that shows him Snape’s worst memory. Which included being humiliated by Harry’s father when they were both students at Hogwarts. Harry had to come to terms with the idea that his Dad wasn’t the perfect, ideal image in his head, but a real, flawed person. For the most part I felt some of the most powerful moments in the Books were passed too quickly, if they were even touched on it all.

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Now we have this new series of films that take place in the Harry Potter Universe set in the late 1920’s: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”or as Mr. Sunday Movies calls them “Fantastic Creatures, Have You Seen Them, Where Are They, Are They In The Case? I Bet They’re In The Case. They were In The Case”. EW.com had a bunch of great character photos from the upcoming movie, which I have posted throughout the article. I enjoyed the first film well enough, but what that really hurt the film for me was the reveal that Collin Farrell‘s character was actually Gellert Grindelwald, infamous dark wizard in disguise, played in ridiculous make up by Johnny Depp. Shortly after the first Fantastic Beasts film came out it was announced that the over arcing plot of the series would be the growing threat of Grindelwald and the magical war that takes place in this universe roughly around the time of our WW2 in the muggle world.

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Johnny Depp (UGH) as Gellert Grindelwald

I really like this concept from a storytelling standpoint because in the Harry Potter books and films Dumbledore is such a world renowned, respected wizard because he cut his teeth being the man who took down Grindelwald, who was at that time the darkest and most dangerous wizard the world had ever seen (at least until He Who Must Not Be Named came along).   Dumbledore has always been one of the more fascinating characters in the Harry Potter universe, so getting to see more of this character in a very different part of his life is really intriguing to me. Another interesting wrinkle in this backstory is the fact that Dumbledore and Grindelwald were romantically involved. They were kind of like Charles Xavier and Magneto, they were two men who were gifted magicians and had a lot of the same ideas, but Grindelwald felt that Muggles should bow down and be subservient to the wizards of the world. Grindenwald felt that magic users were inherently superior to non-magical humans. That’s where he and Dumbledore parted ways and their friendship became increasingly antagonistic until Grindelwald gathered followers and was basically in open war with the rest of the world. You’ll see in the photos that they cast Jude Law as young(ish) Dumbledore, which I think is excellent casting.

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Jude Law as Prof. Albus Dumbledore

Still, I can’t help think it was such a missed opportunity that they swapped out Colin Farrell for Johnny Depp. Johnny Depp hasn’t put in a compelling performance in years. He relies on absurd visual gimmicks, just like you see in these photos. Colin Farrell was genuinely menacing in Fantastic Beasts. He’s a great actor and would’ve made an excellent Grindelwald. I still hope they keep him around and use him in the series in someway (I forget his character’s name). Because the only way a wizard can turn into another person is by creating a potion called pollyjuice but that requires the person they are impersonating to still be alive. So the real Colin Farrell has to be out there somewhere. Anyway I thought these were some interesting photos that I thought you’d find interesting. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens in theaters 11/16/2018.

Thanks for reading!
-Paul

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It would be nice if  a bus just  fucking took him out  seconds after this picture. I mean, he’s in  the middle of the fucking street!