THE SEMINAL WORK COMES TO LIFE
Based on one of the most important Batman graphic novels in the history of comics, Batman: Year One is the animated retelling of Frank Miller's vision of the Dark Knight's first year under the cowl. Bruce Wayne has returned from his twelve year journey of training just as Lieutenant James Gordon is just getting transferred to Gotham City. Both of them can see the rot and disease that has taken hold of the streets and police force, and they're the only two willing to stand up to it. As Gordon realizes the depth of the GCPD's corruption, he soon finds another ally in Wayne's masked alter-ego.
If there were a more faithful adaptation of Year One I wouldn't believe it existed. The story is so well preserved in this animated interpretation that I didn't notice a single thing out of place about it. The artwork is faithful to the original designs of David Mazzucchelli while adding it's own movement and style. It feels more like a film that would be in theaters, rather than just being a direct-to-video release.
Bryan Cranston's portrayal of Gordon is nothing short of astounding. I could feel the pain and anguish of Gordon every time Cranston spoke. If Gary Oldman weren't playing him in the new films, I feel that Cranston would be.
Ben McKenzie's role as Bruce Wayne/Batman has a well placed haunted feel to it. When he confronts mobsters in the guise of Batman, you can feel the supernatural element to his speech. Even though Batman is rarely in the film, every second he's on screen feels eternal and powerful.
The thing that they really did well in this film is focus on the fact that it's not a story about Batman, but more a story about Gordon and his relationship with Batman. It's about two people who are willing to stand against all of the corruption in the world and find a brotherhood where they're united against a common enemy -- Gotham's underbelly.
I give this animated adaptation 5/5 stars. In fact I can't wait to show many of my friends and family this Batman film that I think surpasses many of the live-action adaptations. Then again, Batman Begins is practically a live-action version of Year One, but with some modifications. Still, Year One will always hold a special place in my heart as a powerful comic book, and now the film does too.