Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Reviews and Impressions: Batman: Year One and Batman: Arkham City

Today, October 18, 2011, is officially Batman day, and I do not jest making that claim either. Two very important releases pertaining to The Dark Knight and his crusade see release this day, namely the animated film Batman: Year One and the videogame Batman: Arkham City and I'd love nothing better than to share my impressions on both of them, primarily because 1.) I am a big fan of the character and 2.) they're just downright superb dishes fans of popculture and gaming can sink their teeth into. I know I did, and as of a few hours ago, I FINALLY got myself Arkham City...

Sweet. Perfect. Solid. I'll get to my impressions of the game in a bit, but first, here's a little review on the former animated movie I mentioned...

Batman: Year One

A project that's been a long time coming, and based on the classic story arc of the same name penned by Frank Miller and illustrated by David Mazzucchelli (originally published as Batman #404 - 407 and eventually collected in graphic novel format), this is THE Batman origin story that served as the bar and definite origin tale of Bruce Wayne's alter ego, as well as inspiring Christopher Nolan's epic Batman films Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

Focusing on the early exploits of Bruce Wayne and James Gordon as both men arrive in Gotham City, Batman: Year One depicts both men striving to clean up the city and face the ruthless corruption and crime in their own way. Wayne, having returned from an extensive pilgrimage abroad, seeks to begin his crusade against criminality, but lacks the method. Gordon, migrating to Gotham with his pregnant wife Barbara, is a good cop who has come to a bad town. Both men's lives change forever with the emergence of The Batman, Bruce's alter ego who mercilessly attacks crime and renews hope for the city. It is the appearance of The Dark Knight that will forge an unlikely alliance between the two men, and set them down the road to clean up a city that has all but lost hope for a better tomorrow.

Batman: Year One Trailer

Whether or not you've read the original story, I can truly tell you that this movie is a straightforward adaptation of Year One that simply begs... no, DEMANDS to be watched. Call it the holy grail of the Batman mythos if you will, but next to Miller's other classic piece "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns", this is the Batman story that returned the character to his darker roots, and ushered in an era in the 80's that saw a rise and renewed interest in the comic book medium altogether. While the film portrays Batman as the rising hero of the story, it is Lieutenant James Gordon who is the centerpiece of it all; A cop trying to do right and stumbling on to lots of hardships along the way. Batman isn't immune to mistakes either, as you see the young crime fighter struggling to fight crime outside the law for the first time, getting injured and barely escaping death and captivity within an inch of his life.

Besides these two men, there's also the other prominent faces of Gotham who have their fair share of screen time and introductions. You'll see Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, who's life before becoming the seductive cat burglar we all know and love was more than just prancing around in a stealth suit and jumping on rooftops. Her future persona is heavily influenced by the appearance of Batman, and how she and Bruce meet for the first time isn't a romantic encounter either. Well known corrupt elements like Carmine "The Roman" Falcone, Detective Flass, and Police Commissioner Gillian Loeb struck fear into Gotham City well before masked criminals started terrorizing the populace, and corruption ruled everyone like an iron fist... Until Batman showed up. The Dark Knight's crusade also inspired steadfast allies to join his war on crime, the first among them being rising District Attorney Harvey Dent, who tragically becomes one of his greatest enemies in the future, the hideously scarred and duality obsessed Two-Face.

Produced by famed Batman: The Animated Series creator Bruce Timm, the animated film adaptation of Batman: Year One is a spectacular masterpiece that ushers in the saga of The Dark Knight perfectly. Call it perfection or whatnot, but I consider this to be one of the best DC Animated Movies Warner Bros. Animation has chugged out in a long time, barring some subtle elements being changed or removed like Gordon's former penchant for smoking. Fine that you don't have Kevin Conroy as Batman on this one, but it is refreshing to hear a new take on Batman ever so often, and I think Benjamin McKenzie as Bruce Wayne/ Batman, Bryan Cranston as James Gordon, and Eliza Dushku as Selina Kyle/ Catwoman did well for their respective roles. As I mentioned earlier, Nolan's films are heavily inspired and influenced by this story, and if you've seen those beforehand, you may see parallels and themes that carry over from Year One. Even the classic BTAS animated movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm draws heavily from Year One, so you can't argue that this is the source of it all. It's dark, gritty, and sets the stage for those who need a literal crash course on Batman's origins, so it's a definite must have/ watch for Batman collectors out there.

Rating - 5/5

Also, do remember that the excellent and puurrrfffeeecctt 15-minute feature DC Showcase: Catwoman is also bundled with this home video release, and you'll get an excellent and dazzling taste at what the feline femme fatale can do when she's in action alone. I also give this film a BIG thumbs up, and I'm glad they used the modern costume for the first time!

Rating - 5/5

Now, as for Arkham City...

This game EXCEEDS my expectations for a sequel, and I'm still well into the early hours of the game! I can't give a proper review now, but I can truly say the wait has been worth it and I'm going to enjoy every bit of this game for the long run. I cannot stress how awesome it feels to BE Batman in a video game again, and the stakes are higher this time because, well, you're in a CITY FULL OF CRIMINALS who are just dying to cut loose and terrorize the poor and innocent walled in together with them. Also, you get to see Bruce Wayne, Catwoman, and the calculating Hugo Strange depicted for the first time in this Batman universe... and Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill return to their epic roles as Batman and Joker again, respectively!

Batman: Arkham City 12 minute gameplay trailer

Right now, I'm gliding through the scum-infested cityscape, and countering all the criminal elements with combinations of stealth, gadgetry, and good ol' fashioned kick assery, so there's no telling what else I'm in store for as I navigate through Arkham City. All I can tell you is that the I'm happy so far... and the mission continues. Game on.

1 comment:

OtakuJhe said...

Try playing it in PC w/ a maximum setting and on 3d nVidia card. You feel like your a bystander in the game. SWEET!!!

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