Release: 5th February 2017
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
Gotham City, at the turn of the century, is experiencing a golden era of discovery and industry as showcased by affluent businessman Bruce Wayne’s World Fair. Down in the darkest alleys, there is a killer on the loose. Preying on the city’s women, this killer is as precise as he is cruel. As Police Commissioner James Gordon tries to calm the fears of Gotham’s citizens over the butcher named Jack the Ripper, the masked vigilante Batman does some detective work of his own, with the help of the sultry and surefooted Selina Kyle. Witness a world in flames as the killer’s controlled savagery meets the calculated stealth of the Dark Knight!
Based on the beloved graphic novel by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola, Gotham by Gaslight is Warner Bros animation’s latest attempt at alchemy. Take one pre-ordained audience and convert quality material to film in an effort to generate dollars. The major problem is, this Gotham by Gaslight is neither the original story or the sequel narrative; Master of the Future. Instead it is a bastardised car crash of the two.
The hurdle that Gotham by Gaslight faces is that it wants so badly to be ‘grown up’ Batman, it sidelines everything that made the original special (novelty, crime noir, tension), in favour of swears, sex and gore. This is the animated equivalent of an eight year old discovering an abandoned house; a frenzy of obnoxious behaviour and senseless destruction. It takes everything that makes Batman engaging and turns him in to just a Victorian man in a costume happening upon a load of dead women. There is every sense that Gotham by Gaslight should have been a true horror film, packed with darkened corners, overarching dread and steam punk glamour; yet it is less engaging than Sean Connery butchering Allan Quatermain.
As the film plods on, the abrupt 78 minute runtime feels more like 78 days. It is alarming how a film that does so little and tries to say so much, feels so damn long. What a crying shame, because the source material need only be animated to create something great. Instead we get this disappointing, lifeless mess. Still, it’s better to be boring than awful.
Film Grade: D
A Retrospective of the graphic novel; way better and more enjoyable than the actual feature it accompanies. Some half decent Batman Cartoons, and Promos for some more awful looking animated films including a truly heinous Suicide Squad one.
Special Features Grade: C-
A film so boring, you’ll envy those being sliced open by the ripper. Nice documentary though.