Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (Animated Movie)

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by David Spy Pumpkins, Jul 9, 2017.

  1. kirk55555

    kirk55555 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jul 22, 2011
    Washington State, USA
    To be fair, I was joking when I mentioned Barbara, because of Timm's long obsession with her and Bruce screwing and what happened in TKJ movie. I haven't read the comic so I don't know who the bad guy ends up being, and from what you said it won't be a big surprise apparently, but I don't really think even Timm would have the person writing the script change the ending reveal.

    I don't think Mignola is bad artist, just that his style really only works (for me at least) in a few specific contexts. Looking at his GbG art online, it really doesn't work for me there. His stuff is more for certain kinds of horror or supernatural stories, where it being weird, off putting and unreal is a good thing. But when the story is Batman vs Jack the Ripper, a more normal art style just works better in my opinion.
  2. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 16, 2000
    South Pennsyltucky
    Kor and Turtletrekker like this.
  3. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Jul 22, 2004
    Arizona, USA
    I didn't realize they were showing this as part of the DC in D.C. event.
  4. Jedi Marso

    Jedi Marso Commodore Commodore

    Aug 15, 2001
    I still have the original graphic novel bagged up and stored with the rest of my comic collection (Mostly Batman and SW). This was hands down one of my favorite Batman stories of all time, and I thought the whole Elseworlds idea was pretty fantastic at the time.

    I'll definitely give this a look when it's released.
  5. ichab

    ichab Commodore Commodore

    Jan 28, 2010
    I'm still peeved about what they did to the Killing Joke. That crappy "new" footage should have been a separate feature for those out there who had "issues" with the original novel.(though I'm not sure why you would want to cater to them in the first place.) Fans of the graphic novel weren't asking for it and all that was accomplished was a product that satisfied no one. Hopefully they've learned their lessons from that debacle and won't repeat them for fans of this one.

    As for me, I'm waiting for an adaption of The Long Halloween
  6. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 16, 2000
    South Pennsyltucky
    I got back from the Batman: Gotham By Gaslight screening and Q&A in DC about an hour ago, whereupon I hammered out a rambling Facebook post. It's not a review, and it has some (very light) spoilers, but I'll put it under a spoiler cut anyway for those who are interested.

    I'm back from DC and the Batman: Gotham By Gaslight world premiere and Q&A at the Newseum. This isn't a review, just some scattered thoughts that I want to put down in pixels.

    Background. Gotham By Gaslight was a 48-page prestige format graphic novel by Brian Augustyn, Mike Mignola, and P. Craig Russell published in 1989 that reimagined Batman as a super-hero not of the twentieth-century but one of the nineteenth. Instead of debuting in our recent past (due to the sliding time scale of comics, GBG's Batman debuted in 1889 and quickly found himself hunting for Jack the Ripper, butchering the prostitutes of Gotham City a year after terrorizing London.

    Though Augustyn and Mignola are credited in the opening credits of the animated film I saw tonight, Batman: Gotham By Gaslight is more a variation on the theme -- Batman battling the Ripper in Gotham City -- than an adaptation. I hadn't read the graphic novel since the early 90s, so I picked up a copy at DC's pop-up shop outside the Newseum and read it while waiting in line to enter the Newseum. Other than the base concept, the two stories, graphic novel and film, have nothing in common. Bruce Timm said in the Q&A afterwards that his influences were The Lodger (a 1943 film about the Ripper murders; I've not seen it, but I have read the short story on which the film is based) and The Devil and the White City (a non-fiction book about Chicago Gilded Age serial killer H.H. Holmes and the Chicago World's Fair), and in thinking about those touchpoints while driving home I could see where Timm was coming from. It would be more accurate to say that the film is "19th-century Batman fighting a random serial killer," with "Jack the Ripper" as a convenient marketing hook. One of the film's unanswered questions -- or plot holes, to be more precise -- is that it's never absolutely clear that the Ripper in Gotham City is the Ripper who terrorized London, and a letter to the Gotham Gazette doesn't prove the connection. (The London papers received hundreds of letters in 1888 that purported to be from the Ripper, over 99% of them hoaxes.)

    This was the first of the DC direct-to-DVD animated films I've seen, so I didn't know quite what to expect. I've seen people online complain that the animation in other films was shoddy. I thought this basically felt like a long episode of Batman: The Animated Series set circa 1890. The animation style wasn't the same (which was addressed in the Q&A; because this was set in an entirely different time period than other animated projects, they couldn't fall back on character designs they've gone to in the past), but it had a similar feel. I was reminded in many ways of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, to be honest. One of the concerns that I had was that the animation in the film's trailer didn't evoke the feel of Mignola's artwork in the graphic novel. Mignola is an artist who relies heavily on atmosphere and shadows and dread. Because the film's story was so radically different than the graphic novel's story, I found that I didn't miss the Mignola style.

    I'm not sure how accessible the film is to someone who doesn't know Batman. Yes, it's neat to see Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake (voiced by Tara Strong!) as street urchins out of Oliver Twist. Yes, it's interesting to see Pamela Isley as a burlesque performer and the Ripper's first victim in Gotham. Yes, it's cool when Bruce Wayne picks a fight with Solomon Grundy in a pit fight, not to mention Harvey Bullock as essentially the Chief O'Hara of the Gotham Police Department. But I wonder if these little things would go right over someone's head. If someone doesn't know who Harvey Dent becomes in regular Batman history, are they going to find a line about how Harvey is "like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" resonant? I was hoping for -something- about Batman's origins in the 19th-century, something a little more than Selina's line that went something like, "Oh, your parents."

    The relationship between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle is handled nicely. I was invested in it. The whole sequence from when Harvey wants to show Bruce the actress he's besotted with to Selina and Bruce treating Harvey like a third wheel to Bruce doing a Holmesian deductive trick on Selina in the Dionysus Club was a delight. I wanted more between Bruce and Sister Leslie of a local convent; I felt like that relationship was shortchanged, especially since the convent and its charity for Gotham's orphans is a thread that runs through the film.

    The film has some plot holes. I mentioned one above, about whether Gotham's Ripper is London's Ripper, but there's a pretty major one with the story's resolution. I didn't realize it when I was watching the film. I was sitting on the subway train, turning the film over in my head, and I went, "Wait..." There are some ways around it -- I cant think of a couple off-hand -- but proving any of it...

    I want to loop back to the whole 'Is this really Jack the Ripper?" thing. I've studied the Whitechapel murders, I've read (and own) a number of books on the subject. I consider myself knowledgeable. I have opinions. (I'm not a fan of Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's From Hell -- I wish Moore hadn't built the story around the absolute stupidest theory of the murders, a theory that the person who came up with it said was bullshit -- but I really like the film and think it's a good Jack the Ripper film.) Batman: Gotham By Gaslight doesn't work for me as a Jack the Ripper film. At all. Five London women were murdered in the late summer and fall of 1888, but more than that, they were butchered and mutilated. (The crime scene photos for the fifth victim, Mary Kelly, are staggeringly gruesome.) I didn't get that sense of butchering and mutilation from the film. Yes, it's animated, but it's also R-rated. They could have done more in the way of gore. But, more than that, the victims in the film aren't all lower class sex workers. The enthusiastic amateur Ripperologist in me kept going, "Wait, really?" I'd take what the film told us about the Ripper -- who the killer was and what the motivation was -- and when I tried to backfill that against the Whitechapel series it didn't work. That's not the first time I've run into this in Ripper fiction; Ellery Queen's A Study in Terror (the novelization, not the film) is absolute dreck, because it doesn't describe anything that even halfway resembles the Ripper murders.

    One sequence reminded me of the V for Vendetta film.

    Bruce Greenwood's performance was nice. He played a youthful Bruce, and Timm and Greenwood both talked in the Q&A about how, especially with the way the mask worked on screen, that Batman is a costume that Bruce wears rather than Bruce is a mask that Batman hides behind in public.

    The Sherlock Holmes references were unexpected, but they're also important! Of course Bruce would have trained with the World's First Consulting Detective. Of course Bruce would have picked up "the trick." Of course Bruce would know... well, that would ruin the surprise.

    Overall I liked the film. I left the theater (and the Q&A) feeling good about it. Some details nagged at me during the screening itself -- the big one being, "Is this really the Ripper?" -- but it's easy to imagine the Gotham Ripper is simply a copycat killer rather than the original Ripper, fled to America. (Which is not as impossible as one might expect. There's debate over whether or not the Ripper was active in 1889, and there's even a compelling case to be made that the Ripper murdered a woman in Manhattan in 1893.) I don't know that I'll buy this when it comes out on disc in a month, but for what it was it was enjoyable and I'm glad I saw it.