As the title suggests none too subtly, this depicts Bruce Wayne’s initial efforts as donning the dark knight cape and cowl, not quite 20 years after his parents’ double murder on the streets of Gotham City, “and the ache is still fresh, like a raw, angry nerve.”
New to town is a cop named Gordon (voiced with proper authority by Bryan Cranston, TV’s “Breaking Bad“), weathering marital problems when the scourge of the Batman (Ben McKenzie, TV’s “Southland”) provides a distraction. The police aren’t even sure the vigilante crimefighter is human. If some of this sounds familiar to those who don’t read comics, it’s because Christian Bale’s first romp in the suit, “Batman Begins,” borrowed heavily from the book. That film kept more of the source material’s grit and grime intact than this streamlined adaptation. (At one point, before “Batman Begins” began, “Year One” was going to hit the big screen as a live-action prequel courtesy of Darren Aronofsky, which would’ve been too cool.)
It’s OK, but could’ve been better, as the animation doesn’t look as smooth as some of the other DC Universe efforts. Two things are for sure:
1. The end credits rock.
2. The PG-13 rating isn’t screwing around; this is not for kids. And that goes double (D) for the Blu-ray’s tacked-on Catwoman short, most of which is set in a strip club where bras are dropped and zippers go south. Seriously, if you didn’t know better, you might think you were watching a “Heavy Metal” sequel.
Among the other extras is a peek at the next DCU animated film, “Justice League: Doom.” Whether it’ll be the next great DCU entry (like “Green Lantern: Emerald Knights”) or the next horrible one (I’m looking at you, “All-Star Superman”) — unknown until viewing. —Rod Lott