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Animated Movie Review: 'Batman: Year One' (2011)

Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.

"Batman: Year One" blu-ray cover art.

"Batman: Year One" blu-ray cover art.

Quick Info

Directors: Sam Liu, Lauren Montgomery
Studio: Warner Brothers Animation
Release Date: October 18th, 2011
Availability: In stock, buy the DVD, blu-ray and digital, available for rent digitally, streaming on DCUniverse

Story Summary

In Batman: Year One, the animated movie, an adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel, James Gordon moves to Gotham City, hoping for a better life, but finds the police are corrupt, meanwhile Bruce Wayne searches for a way to fight crime in Gotham. One night, after a failed attempt to protect a woman in a bad part of town, he is inspired by a bat crashing through his window and takes up the cape and cowl and becomes Batman.

Because of his activities, he catches the attention of the GCPD, and the press coins the moniker “Batman” for him. Jim Gordon wonders if Batman is a good thing for Gotham City or not.

It’s Very Faithful to the Source Material

I have read and review the original graphic novel Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and it’s one of my favorite graphic novels that I’ve read. It’s so good I was wondering if they’d do a good job adapting the graphic novel into an animated movie but I wasn’t disappointed by the way the graphic novel was adapted into a movie.

The movie is a panel for panel recreation of the graphic novel, except for the art style which has been changed so it could be animated, but unlike the adaptation of Batman: The Killing Joke the animation looks good, but it looks really good for fights scenes but I’ll talk about that later.

They did change one scene from a drug dealer using cocaine to him counting money, and they omitted Jim Gordon smoking, but other than that, it is a direct adaptation of the graphic novel.

A scene pulled straight from Frank Miller's graphic novel.

A scene pulled straight from Frank Miller's graphic novel.

Batman: Year One - Trailer

The Animation Looks Good but Saves the Good Animation for the Fights

The art style is visually faithful to the graphic novel, except for the thick lines used to outline the characters. It’s probably one of the most faithful adaptations of a graphic novel when it comes to transposing the visuals from the graphic novel to animation, other than Batman: Under the Red Hood adaptation where it looked just like the graphic novel.

The animation does look great and the art style is designed to resemble the graphic novel and it looks pretty good. It’s not the best animation, but it’s visually faithful to the graphic novel and the animation is fluid.

The fight scenes for the movie are fluid and are not only the same as the original source material but they’re also very well done and animated nicely.

The animation looks really good, and it’s a perfect adaptation of a graphic novel that I really enjoyed.

The Voice Acting Is Great!

The voice acting is great and I enjoyed it much more after rewatching the movie a second time.

Some roles are better than others, but the voice acting isn’t particularly memorable, despite the great voice cast. They all did a great job but the cast doesn’t really stand out as being amazing.

Benjamin McKenzie as Bruce Wayne/Batman, but he’s not my favorite voice actor. The first time I watched the movie I didn’t enjoy his work as much but this time I realized I really liked how he portrayed both Bruce Wayne and Batman.

What’s really interesting about Benjamin McKenzie is he ended up being cast as Jim Gordon in the Gotham TV series so that’s a really funny irony.

Bryan Cranston is the standout performance as Lieutenant James Gordon. I think he did a great job portraying a rookie James Gordon and I really enjoyed his voice work.

James Gordon ran the gauntlet of emotions in the story and Bryan Cranston did a great job portraying that in his voice acting. He was a great choice for this role.

Grey DeLisle as Barbara Eileen Kean and Vicki Vale, although she’s uncredited as Vicki Vale. She’s a great voice actress and she’s voiced a lot of roles of various characters in a lot DC Comics properties.

She did a great job in this role and she’s a staple of DC Comics media, so it’s nice to hear her in this movie.

Katee Sackhoff is also good as Detective Sarah Essen. She was a great voice actor and her character was interesting. She portrayed her character in a realistic way and she did a great job in her role.

Eliza Dushku is great as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. She was a nice choice for this role and I liked her voice work in this animated movie.

The voice acting was great for the movie, it’s just a shame that it didn’t really stand out compared to the other animated movies but it is really great.

"Batman: Year One" Song Credits

The Soundtrack Is Good

Christopher Drake composed the music for this film. While it is very good music it is not the most memorable soundtrack he’s composed for a DC Comics animated adaptation.

The music is very well done and it’s good, but not outstanding, and it’s a little disappointing that it’s not outstanding because usually his soundtracks are great.

Parental Warning

This movie is rated PG-13 for language and violence. The drug use and the smoking have been removed; this is definitely for an older audience though.

The Slight Changes Are Weird

They did change one scene in the movie where a criminal counted money instead of smoking cocaine. I couldn’t tell if it was for keeping the rating at PG-13 instead of getting an R rating for drug use, but it is weird if you’ve read the graphic novel.

They also left out some of the inner monologues that surprised me, it’s not like they had to but they did. It does feel off when you’ve read the original source material as I have.

Batman confronting corrupt politicians and gangsters in Gotham City.

Batman confronting corrupt politicians and gangsters in Gotham City.

Reader Poll

The Movie Is Really Good, Fans of the Graphic Novel Will Enjoy It

If you’re wondering whether the movie is good, it is pretty good. The story is nearly a perfect replica of Batman: Year One by Frank Miller except some small lines have been omitted; you won’t notice unless you read the comic and watch the movie at the same time.

I do think it’s impressive how close they kept it to Frank Miller’s graphic novel. It is a great adaptation and fans of Frank Miller’s writing will enjoy the animated adaptation.

I do think that they did a fantastic job with the animated adaptation, and it is a lot of fun if you have read the graphic novel.

Quick Summary

What Works:What Doesn't Work:

Great story, plot, and world-building

They changed a scene so it has less impact for how bad the criminal was

Great adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel

Lackluster soundtrack compared to other DC Animated Original Movies

The animation style is faithful to the source material and is animated nicely

 

Great voice acting

My Rating: A-

Batman: Year One is an impressive adaptation of the graphic novel by Frank Miller. It is very faithful to the source material and has a lot of great things going for it.

It is very faithful to the comic and fans of it will appreciate that. The animation looks really nice and the art style is just like the comic with minor tweaks for the sake of animation.

The voice cast is excellent and I enjoyed their work. They all gave great performances.

The music was okay but not amazing. Everything about this film is pretty good, but the soundtrack is just kind of there as background noise.

Overall, it’s a fun movie and since I did enjoy Batman: Year One by Frank Miller I can highly recommend this to fans of the original graphic novel, but the source material is still better, mainly because the movie left out some of the inner monologues.

The movie is still very well done and worth your time to watch it, but not necessarily your money because the original graphic novel is what you should buy over buying the animated movie.

I recommend this to anyone who is a Batman fan, the movie has great production value, but the movie isn’t quite as good as the others that I’ve watched. It’s definitely worth a rental or borrowing it from your local library if they have it. If you’re a diehard Frank Miller fan, you’ll definitely want to buy it. It is worth your time, but to decide if you want to spend your money on it by renting or borrowing it first.

My Rating

Comments

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on October 05, 2020:

This is an excellent review and yes it's difficult when you read the book and they change the movie.