Release: January 23, 2018

Genre: Mystery/Superhero

Director: Sam Liu

Screenplay: Jim Krieg, based on Gotham by Gaslight by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola

Starring: Bruce Greenwood as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Jennifer Carpenter as Selina Kyle, Anthony Head as Alfred Pennyworth, John DiMaggio as Chief Bullock, and Scott Patterson as James Gordon

Spoiler gninraW: Warning reliopS

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is an interesting premise that got incredibly botched. The world’s greatest detective tracking Jack the Ripper through the seedy back alleys of 19th century Gotham definitely has its draw, but it was just done incredibly wrong here. The pacing feels too slow, especially for its rather short 78 minute running time, and the big reveal at the end came out of nowhere. It didn’t feel like they built to it at all. In fact, it wasn’t even well alluded to, just sort of shoved in your face when the thing had about 15 minutes left to go. Yes, I realize that this is an animated superhero flick we’re talking about, but if you’re going to do a hardboiled murder mystery, commit to the bit. The main cast’s voice acting leaves much to be desired. Greenwood, Carpenter, and Patterson are all incredibly stiff. Which is especially not good considering that these are the actors whose characters the film spends the most time with. The animation looks good, of course, and I was surprised that they actually depicted some rather gruesome onscreen murders. However, given the source material from which this is drawn, I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps it would have looked better if they had opted for an art style closer to Mike Mignola’s original rather than the usual DCAU style. By which I mean more heavy contrasts between light and shadow. At certain parts, it just didn’t seem dark enough. That’s kind of a pet peeve though.

As to how faithful an adaptation of the source material it is, I can’t say. I’m not exactly familiar with Gotham by Gaslight. That being said, it’s just not a particularly good movie. Again, it was something that could have been interesting, but It just doesn’t seem like the writer was particularly well suited to mystery. I give them kudos for not taking the obvious way out and having Harvey Dent be the killer, as it was pretty heavily implied. Again, though, I just didn’t feel like the twist was adequately set up at all. It comes so abruptly out of nowhere.

Score: 3.5/10

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