The newest Warner Bros Animation & DC collaborative movie is here in the form of "Batman: Gotham By Gaslight", an interpretation on the DC Elseworld tale by Brian Augustyn. Our review will contain spoilers for this film however due to its non canonical nature in relation to the DCEU, the spoilers here will only apply to the plot points of this movie. Batman meets Jack the Ripper, is the subheading of the movie- and it certainly delivers on its promise. The R Rated tale of a Victorian Gotham with old foes and friends merged with the historical time period has the makings of a perfect animation- however at times it does fall flat.
The tale begins with Ivy- this films interpretation of Poison Ivy- an orphan turned exotic dancer and prostitute, who becomes the first on screen victim of "Jack the Ripper". The murders keep happening night after night in and around the secluded back streets of Gotham with young girls being the target- only until Bruce Wayne gets involved. This murder happens minutes into the films opening which certainly left myself and others online shocked and excited to see where it heads next. Ivy's appearance first gives the impression of the recent "Batman: The Killing Joke" movie which lead to much criticism over the over-sexualisation of the women and overall sexist remarks, luckily, the film diverts from this route and accurately represents the thoughts of the time as regards women without being overtly rude about it.
As the citizens of Gotham including the police force James Gordon and Chief Bullock believe Bruce Wayne is Jack the Ripper, the tension rises surrounding the true identity of the serial killer stalking the streets however we all know that it cannot be Bruce Wayne as he's been seen in a fight with him and Selina Kyle, down in Skinners End. Selina Kyle later becomes Catwoman in this Universe. At the Monarch Theatre with his friend Harvey Dent- aka Two Face, Bruce meets Selina and the two bond at the Dionysus Club. Bruce realizes that not only were the two of them taken in by Sister Leslie, but that some of the murdered girls were orphans formerly under Leslie's care. Bruce rushes out to save Leslie from Jack the Ripper but is too late as Jack has already murdered her. This second twist in the story again comes as a shock as you expect Batman to save her but he misses it by mere seconds. This causes the issue of Marlene, a crazed drunken old lady who mistakes Batman for the Ripper as she sees him running from the scene. At the funeral of Leslie, Bruce is met by Doctor Hugo Strange, claiming he knows the killer and wants to meet with Batman. Strange later becomes the first male victim to the killer as he attempted to discover the identity behind the mask.
As the climax arrived, it had to be admitted that when Selina said Harvey Dent was a "Jekyll and Hyde of a person" it clicked that he must be the Ripper, and sadly, I was right. This anti-climatic reveal of the man behind the mask left me feeling flat as the film ended as I was expected a much more grandiose and shocking twist to compliment the shocking murders we had throughout the film. Unfortunately, the reveal that Harvey Dent was the Ripper let the film down and lacked impact and suspense- it's surprising that Bruce didn't see it coming.
The main selling point of the film is it's setting which is even lacking in quality. The animation style here is really quite poor and lacks any uniqueness like the upcoming "Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse" has. Bruce Greenwood as the caped crusader here takes a more watered-down approach to the role as he steps back into the shadows, only popping in to break up a fight or appear shirtless to appease fans. However his best scene is by far the scenes alongside Jennifer Carpenter's Selina Kyle as they work perfectly as a duo and make their mark within the film- unlike any of the other characters who are (pun not intended) two dimensional.
To conclude, the idea of Batman in a Steampunk-Gothic setting is truly thrilling however the film lacks solid characters apart from perhaps the 2 main protagonists. Even the villain that the whole plot is centred around seems weak and underwhelming. The little easter eggs such as Jayson Todd and Dick Grayson being the orphan pickpockets was a nice touch however the film left a lot to be desired. It's an enjoyable watch however lacked any sort of depth that was required for such a rich concept.
Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is available now on Digital HD and on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD in stores and online.
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