I just got out of a screening of this film held at the Paley Center in New York City. Even cooler, after the movie there was a brief panel with David Selby (Gordon), Jay Oliva (Director) and Andrea Romano(!). They did some prescreened questions by the moderator and then took questions from the audience.
I'm not going into a long winded review, but questions are welcome. These are just some impressions.
Visually, I was worried at first because Gotham looked very "clean" whereas I've always felt the comic was very gritty in terms of how the pencils and inks were done. However, where Gotham lacked trash and bits of background detail everywhere, it more than made up for with lighting, texture and even the graininess of some of the buildings. Several iconic establishing shots of the city from the comic book were put right up on screen which made the teenager in me squeal with delight.
Speaking of delight, there were many key panels taken right out of the comic book and put into motion on screen. This included the famous cover shot of Batman's silouette against lightning, Batman with the "grapple rifle" aiming at the Gotham tower, the Mutant leader yelling at the Batmobile, parts of the mud pit fight and others.
All the voice talent was spot on. I was skeptical about Weller as Batman at first, but he won me over in minutes. His voice has the gravely, world weariness that I expected from "this" Batman and it worked very well. Ariel Winter played Carrie pretty much how I always heard her voice when I read the comic and it was great to hear some other familiar voices such as Tara Strong take part. Andrea mentioned that almost every actor did about three voices in the movie (aside from the headline cast). This includes Gary Anthony Williams who plays one of the recurring reporters as well as the Mutant Leader.
Change-wise, the director was restrained. A lot of the key bits you need for the story are in there with some minor tweaks (some I didn't care about, others I wish had not been changed), but nothing wrecked the movie at all. The themes were all there (Bruce trying to "fight" the demon of Batman within himself until it comes out, Harvey Dent being a reflection of Bruce/Batman, social commentary on news programs etc.). There are som eEaster Eggs in there that didn't appear in the comic book, but they were amusing. Some people may find the addition of one scene controversial (it involves young Bruce Wayne) but I personally liked it.
I confess I haven't bought most of the Direct to DVD WB movies, just a few here and there if I liked them. This one is going to be a must purchase for me!