In college I didn’t pay much attention during class. I sat in the back and drew comics. In just about every class. That is to say, I still got As but I never really worked hard for them. I kind of just coasted through school and focused on the things that were really important to me. Comics.
That’s exactly how Batman: Year One feels, talented people coasting on their natural ability. Sure Batman: Year One is arguably one of the most important Batman stories ever and this direct to dvd adaptation sort of tries to capture the magic but overall falls short.
The key scenes that you remember loving from the book are included and the voice acting is really spectacular but other than the odd flash bang of nostalgia this film offers very little in terms of meat or substance.
This seems to be the going formula for DC’s direct to DVD films. Find a critically acclaimed, fan beloved comics classic and then try not to spend too much money or time on the production. The film cost a purported $3.5 million and it looks like it. The animation is very stiff and simple. The character designs are obvious and unnuanced. The cinematography is… well, referring to it as simple is doing injustice to the brilliantly simple cartoons that can be made. The cinematography is pedestrian.
The only really wonderful element of this film is the voice acting from Bryan Cranston and Benjamin McKenzie. One would hope that DC Entertainment takes notice of the stirring performances that Cranston and McKenzie deliver and consider them for the inevitable big screen re-boot of the Batman franchise.
Regardless of the unflattering animation, it is plainly observable that the team behind this cinematic sleepwalk has deep seeded respect and avuncular feelings toward the source material. It’s a shame that these direct to DVD enterprises are on such a quick production timeline because I’m sure that given more money and more time this adaptation really could have been impressive. Unfortunately, it’s really not.