Batman: Gotham Knight

Oct 10 2008

This is an odd duck: a bunch of Japanese animation studios each produced a short film about Batman, and assembled them into a movie. Moreover, the shorts are all connected in a loose overall plot, despite the wildly different visual styles of each short.

Batman: Gotham Knight features a Batman who is still mostly a whispered legend, even to police. Indeed, the first film is entirely about that legendary aspect, as four teens describe their sightings of Batman in hilariously different forms—to one he’s literally a shadow, to another he’s a relentless machine, and to another he’s a vicious half-bat.

Every story deals specifically with what it takes to be Batman. In one, he tests a bulletproof energy field which turns out to be too effective. In another, we see a young Bruce Wayne training in India to purge himself of his demons (you can imagine how well that goes). In a later short, he slogs wearily through a sewer after a painful battle with Killer Croc. I rather liked a short told from the perspective of two normal detectives, who debate Batman’s effect on the city.

Some of the shorts work better than others, and much of my enjoyment of the film came from my interest in the animation styles. Some are sketchy, some are beautifully fluid, and some are highly stylized. The film remains interesting throughout.

However, because each short is so different, it can be a difficult film to watch, especially if you have no interest in Batman or animation.

Still, it was a noble experiment, and worth checking out.

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