Well acted and animated, it’s the scripting that pulls down Gotham Knight. This six chapter tale bridges the story between the latest Batman theatrical releases, but does so in formulaic fashion. As opposed to something such as The Animatrix, there’s not much variety here to make the anime-styled pieces worth watching.
The opening and final pieces offer up the most unique forms of animation available. The middle four are all presented in a barely stylized anime that all look and feel the same. It’s hard to tell many of these stories apart visually, a glaring error for this format.
So too are the stories. With the exception of the first, concerning children envisioning their own take on the Batman legend in their own ways, they all feel the same. There’s a brief set-up, a hefty fight, and then a closing moment. The “Working Through the Pain” offers the most to the feature films, adding to the training from Batman Begins. Still, even that is derivative of the other shorts.
Even with some memorable sights, Gotham Knight is certainly geared towards the die-hard Batman fans, leaving those who may have come back into fandom recently or are new behind. The individual stories are too short to form any deep plots, and the disappointing lack of variation in the art doesn’t make them visually enthralling either.
Each of the stories brings various video qualities. The first is layered with a grain, while the last piece “Deadshot” carries a perfect balance of light and dark. Another one, “Field Test,” is all over the place. The transfer itself is clean, with no noticeable artifacting. However, going in with high expectations as with other Blu-ray animation will only set you up for more disappointment. The styles are properly represented.
While the bass may be lacking (if not completely absent at times), the rear surrounds do get a small workout. The action sequences are typically loaded with separation, and the stereo effect in the front is nicely handled. Without any punch though from the LFE, the mix is constantly flat.
A three-way commentary includes DC Comics Senior Vice President Gregory Noveck, former editor Dennis O’Neil , and Batman’s voice across all six of the shorts, Kevin Conroy, begins the extras. Batman and Me: The Bob Kane Story is an excellent 40 minute documentary on the life of Batman’s creator. A Mirror for the Bat focuses on Batman for a brief period before moving onto the various villains he faces in this 36 minute piece.
A 10 minute promotional piece for the upcoming animated Wonder Woman features cast interviews and not much else. Finally, four full episodes of Batman The Animated Series are included. All extras are in SD.
Violent and sometimes overly gory, Gotham Knight is the second animated Batman feature to garner a PG-13. Batman Beyond: Revenge of the Joker was the first, re-edited into a director’s cut after the initial release to land a PG-13.