A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Batman: Gotham By Gaslight is a 2018 movie placing Batman in the Victorian era trying to find a Jack the Ripper-style killer. There are scenes in which characters are pursued by the knife-wielding killer, heard getting stabbed to death. The killer writes a letter to the Commissioner talking of why he is "cutting whores." A doctor is killed in an insane asylum after falling into a pit where the mentally ill are kept. A character burns to death. In order to elude the authorities, Bruce Wayne hides in a coach, removes his Batman outfit; he's found naked by a police officer as Wayne pretends to be having sex with Selina Kyle. There's some drinking, including one of the lead characters acting drunk. A street urchin says "s--t" upon seeing Batman. Viewers also see a striptease scene at a burlesque show, with no nudity but some lewd comments.
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What's the story?
It's the late 19th century in Gotham City, and Batman (Bruce Greenwood) is attempting to find out who is behind the stabbing deaths of prostitutes and other denizens of the night in GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT. He's a vigilante as feared by everyone then as he is in more recent times; some even suspect Batman as the murderer. Selina Kyle (Jennifer Carpenter), a stage actress and vigilante in her own right, attempts to lure the murderer and kill him, but her plans are accidentally foiled when Batman swoops in. Shortly after, Selina meets Bruce Wayne, and the two hit it off. But things take a turn for the worse when Wayne is spotted at the orphanage where he grew up on the night his beloved Sister Leslie is murdered. Now the police are in hot pursuit of Wayne, and he must now, with the help of Kyle, not only discover the murderer, but also prove his innocence.
Is it any good?
This is a unique take on the Batman story. Set during the Victorian era, it places Batman/Bruce Wayne among the street urchins, burlesque dancers, moral reformers, and Jack the Ripper-style killers of the time. On the whole, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is an interesting take on the now-familiar tale of the misunderstood vigilante and playboy philanthropist. The mystery behind the killer is a surprise, all things considered, and presents a unique take on the character's twisted motives for the murders.
At the same time, the "whodunit" of it all feels a little too much like a Scooby-Doo! episode, with a lot more adult content and far fewer clues to help the audience play along in solving the mystery. It doesn't quite strike the right balance between showing what these well-known characters would be like in a different time and telling the story itself. It's definitely enjoyable on its own terms for the novelty of the time and setting, but one would hope that if this is the direction the creators want to take the Batman franchise, they'll do more than simply plug in a half dozen or so historical reference points to give the movie authenticity.
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