While it’s a cool concept—and not the first Batman cross-over I’m familiar with—Gotham By Gaslight seems…cheap. Between shoehorned-in characters from the comics (which I’ll touch more on later) and plot conveniences, to the fast pacing—which can be good or bad; in this situation, a little of both—and a cardboard villain, I wasn’t as hyped coming out of it as I was going in.
But, I’ll hit on the positives, first…
As I said, the concept seems cool, and the creators are right: Batman can be dropped down anywhere and still be cool. That will never change. Jack the Ripper continues to be a favorite subject of mine to study—serial killers, in general, are a fascinating enigma, to me. Super-excited for the Scorsese-directed, DiCaprio-starring H.H. Holmes film, out next year.
Bruce Greenwood (I, Robot, The Post) as the voice of Batman is great—easily my favorite part of this. I’ve heard his voice as the Bat before—he’s just got that demeanor about him. He exudes “cool” and “powerful”. Jennifer Carpenter (TV’s Dexter, Quarantine) as the voice of Selina Kyle is also phenomenal—for what little we see of her; I was really hoping for more of a superhero team-up…—as is Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Imagine Me & You) as Alfred, whom evokes a Burton-era Michael Gough-esque performance. The majority of the performances, and the Bat’s costume…so very Victorian. The filmmakers really nailed the feel of the period, right down to the background character costuming and the way the cobblestone streets twist and turn and make us feel as trapped as the Ripper’s victims. Stayed true to the graphic novel’s shadowy feel, as far as I can tell.
It would’ve been cooler to see this set in London—makes more sense for the Ripper mythos. Plus, we know that Batman isn’t shackled to Gotham; we’ve seen, in other films, that he can travel abroad, if need be. Who’s to say he doesn’t hear about the Ripper murders and—the brash detective type he is—decides to don the cowl and take on the challenge, see if he can snoot out anything the English Bobbies missed? That, right there, may have won this movie more favor with me. As it stands, though, this is…lackluster, to say the least. The plot is rushed, and although I thought I had the Ripper pegged twenty minutes in, I turned out to be wrong. Way wrong. And it wasn’t an impressive reveal, either—was a cop-out. Just…didn’t make any sense. The filmmakers took too many artistic liberties; the graphic novel, apparently, didn’t seem long enough for them to make a feature film. They added, subtracted, switched around, and I believe, therein, lies most of the problems I have with this…
I should read the graphic novel, see what snippets they cut out, where it differs. Probably a good read, all-in-all. Watching the behind-the-scenes featurette on the Blu-Ray, these guys…it’s like they didn’t do their research on some things. They tried to incorporate too much fan service, and were worse-off for it. Characters are added in and then taken away, or are just there for that “gotcha” reference moment or two, but don’t serve any purpose to the story. Makes it all-too-confusing, sometimes.
A nicely-crafted Victorian-era aesthetic, swell voice-acting and background artistry, and the fact that it’s a Batman story can’t save it, though. Sadly, Gotham By Gaslight gets a 4/10.
LINK: “Batman: Gotham By Gaslight Trailer” by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on YouTube [https://youtu.be/R7FuOmlAO1k]
Next review: Black Panther (Feb. 16th) on geekeinc.com.