Batman: Gotham By Gaslight Completely Unlike Original Graphic Novel

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Batman Gotham By Gaslight

If you weren't happy with the liberties taken with the animated adaptation of BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE, then you're probably going to walk away sourly with this adaptation as well. BATMAN: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT has little in common with the graphic novel that came before it, save that it's set in a Victorian era, and that Batman is pitted against Jack the Ripper. Two foes, one title, and nothing else bears any resemblence to the classic Elseworlds story.

There's a masked killer stalking the streets of old Gotham, and he targets the women of the night. His first victim is a stripper named Pamela Isley, so we know right off the bat that Poison Ivy won't be making any sort of villainous comeback. The police are doing seemingly little to capture the killer, as his victims are deemed a blight on society anyway. That doesn't stop either actress Selina Kyle (JENNIFER CARPENTER) or the charitable Sister Leslie (GREY DELISLE) from holding police commissioner James Gordon (SCOTT PATTERSON) accountable for finding the killer.

The city fathers are more engaged with the upcoming opening of the Gotham World's Fair, a utopian model city of tomorrow funded by the coffers of socialite Bruce Wayne (BRUCE GREENWOOD). Bruce sides with the ladies, but is also understanding towards Gordon, whom he deems a friend. However, when Sister Leslie is murdered, and Bruce Wayne is placed at the scene of the crime, he's hauled away in irons, leaving Selina Kyle to deal with the matter of getting him out -- even if it means telling Gordon that Wayne can't be the murderer because he's the Batman.

While BATMAN: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT doesn't take much from its source material, it does borrow liberally from other films. The opening of the film, involving three young street thieves named Dickie, Jason and Tim, has them mirroring the "What about Johnny Gobbs?" dialogue that began the Tim Burton BATMAN film. And when Bruce Wayne sneaks Selina into the "men only" Diogenes Club, one begins to recast them with Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger from their 9 1/2 WEEKS roles.

Where Batman fans are likely to get their hackles up comes at the climax of the film, shortly after the Ripper has replaced his red kerchief mask with one more in line with the Court of Owls disguise (taken from the murder scene at Arkham of Dr. Hugo Strange). The revelation of the Ripper's identity, and the battle it necessitates, is both unexpected and yet still disappointing.

The animation is top notch. Naturally, as with most comic book animated offerings for home video, the cover art exceeds the interiors (keeping with the tradition of most comic books, period, I suppose), but it's still quite good. The voice work is superb, bringing in veteran talents like JOHN DIMAGGIO as Chief Bullock, YURI LOWENTHAL as Harvey Dent, and KARI WUHRER as Barbara Gordon. Casting ANTHONY HEAD as Alfred Pennyworth is an inspired choice as well.

Overall, I can't help but like what was offered here, even if it did deviate from my expectations in directions that I didn't like. I'm much more excited, though, about the next animated film coming down the pike, the extended sneak peek of which is included on this release: SUICIDE SQUAD: HELL TO PAY. A grindhouse style animated Suicide Squad? Sign me up for that!

4.5 / 5.0