Sunday, 25 March 2018

Gotham By Gaslight ★★★★☆

I don’t see enough focus on the Batman animations in mainstream media - there’s a lot of hype about the films, of course, but the only people I know who watch the animated versions are die-hard fans. It’s similar with a lot of fandoms but it’s also a shame, as people end up missing out on some really great films.

The latest animation from the Batman franchise is ‘Gotham, By Gaslight’ (directed by Sam Liu and written by James Grieg), a slightly more unusual take on the traditional animations as this time round it’s set in the Victorian era and done as a murder mystery. Jack the Ripper is on the loose killing woman after woman in all manner of brutal ways, in an effort to cleanse society. The police force are at a loss and the general public are scared, leaving Batman (Bruce Greenward) to try and sort it out. He’s not on his own though, as Selina Kyle (Jennifer Carpenter) also steps in to help him uncover the mystery murderer and stop him from taking the lives of innocents.

Watching this was quite refreshing, as it’s a really good twist on the classic hero vs. villain story. Normally in a Batman movie, we know who the villain is, and the film spends its time exploring the motives as to why the villain does what they do. This time round it’s completely reversed - we know why Jack the Ripper does what he does, but we have no idea who he actually is. This makes for an interesting story and keeps you hooked until the killer is revealed. The only issue I really had with this was that, once Jack’s true identity became known, I wasn’t quite so invested in the story as it felt like it had already been resolved. 

Another way they made it different was the use of different characters, with other Batman characters like Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harvey Dent all playing a part. I actually really enjoyed the way they’d done this, as it felt all familiar. Some characters are killed off surprisingly early, which makes a change, and it made you constantly on edge knowing the writing could be so ruthless. I did find that the twist at the end was a tad too predictable, but then again perhaps I’ve just been watching too many Batman animations of late.

Onto the technical side, the animation was really very good, with a great drawing style and fluidity of movement. I also felt the voice acting was done well - this is something I often have a problem with, but both character and voice really gelled. It’s a style I’d love to see more of not just for Batman-focused plots but also animations centred around different DC superheroes.

‘Gotham, By Gaslight’ is a really easy and enjoyable watch, and thankfully there’s no inclusion of awkward scenes such as Bridget Jones-style gossip over the library counter, or completely out-of-character rooftop copulation. It wasn’t quite my favourite one (‘The Killing Joke’ is still rooted firmly at the top) but it’s definitely one to check out.

Hannah Read

Gotham By Gaslight at CeX

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