Available now on Blu-Ray and digital download, Batman: Gotham By Gaslight is a loose adaptation of the first Elseworlds tale of the same name. It’s been a while since I’ve read the Mike Mignola classic, but I’ve always thought that the ’89 graphic novel’s marrying of Batman and a 19th-century setting were inspired. After all, one of the reasons that Batman works so well as a character is because his desire for justice is timeless. The dark undertones of the Batman and his primal impact on the psyche of readers makes the 19th-century, with the prevalence of Gothic literature and the rise of new ideas in psychology, an apt choice for time-transplantation.
– There are lots of Easter Eggs that nod to the wider Batman mythos, from the ‘Cock Robins’ pick-pocket gang (featuring Dick, Jason and Tim) who quote Batman’89 to the Blackgate prison fight-leader named Cyrus Gold.
– The characterisation and voice-acting (Jennifer Carpenter) for Selina Kyle is a strong tick in the plus column.
– Decent twist on the ‘Jack the Ripper’ identity.
– Bruce Greenwood as Batman and Antony Head as Alfred. Win.
– Doesn’t rely on gratuitous sex, language or violence (as with some previous features) – except for the subject matter, this could *almost* be an extended episode of the animated series.
– Some decent action pieces.
– Like many of the DC Animated Features, there are many moments that just feel ‘flat’. I think that this comes down to the sound design – a simple atmos track (to provide the ambient sounds of a location) would go some way to fix this.
– Early on characterisation of one of the female characters seems peculiar. Part of this may be directly related to the subject matter (Jack the Ripper killed prostitutes in London’s Whitechapel, after all), but Ivy’s reaction to the Ripper didn’t quite sit right.
– The ‘enjoyment curve’ has some severe peaks and troughs – some scenes don’t push the story on at the necessary intensity.
– After a suitably ‘big’ ending, the denouement feels unsatisfying, but all-the-more-so due to the potential for post-game world building.
Overall, I enjoyed Gotham By Gaslight, but I’m not sure how many times I’ll be returning to rewatch it.
A solid 6/10 from me, it could even get up to a 7/10 on a good day.
All this talk of Gotham By Gaslight made me think back to the videogame pitch made by Day 1.