Friday, August 10, 2012

Ranking the Batman Movies: #12

12. Batman: Year One
Directed by Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery
Batman…Ben McKenzie
James Gordon…Bryan Cranston
Alfred…Jeff Bennett
Carmine Falcone…Alex Rocco
Catwoman…Eliza Dushku
Harvey Dent…Robin Atkins Downes

As the title suggests, we’re dealing with the first year Bruce Wayne decided to dress up like a bat and chase bad guys. Honestly, this was one of the two hardest movies to rank (I’ll let you know the other one at a later date). It’s based on the iconic graphic novel of the same name. More than just being based on it, the movie is an incredibly faithful adaptation. There are only minor changes here and there. The first problem is that things that work on the page, don’t always work on screen even if it is a direct transfer. The main victim is the incessant narration done by both Bruce and then Lt. Gordon. Another issue is there are 24 years between when the source material and this movie were released. By itself, that’s no big deal. Works of literature that’s decades, even centuries old are constantly reinvented in some new medium whether loosely or faithfully done. When talking about what has happened to the character in that time, it’s huge. The graphic novel has been the impetus for so much of what’s followed in the Batman universe that the exact same material released as a movie feels dated. The book recreated Gotham as a horribly corrupt town ran by gangsters with most of the police force on the take. It developed James Gordon to the status of a real human being, pretty much alone on the force as an honest cop. He also has a wife and a child on the way. He even has mixed feelings about Batman. Most importantly, he has flaws. Year One also gives us the notion that Bruce Wayne isn’t always a swell guy to be around. Even when he’s suited up, he might not always know what he’s doing. The two Christopher Nolan movies have given us all of this, even the first Tim Burton flick used some of the same, rendering this movie kind of pointless.

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