A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a cartoon anthology, not to be confused with the Batman movie The Dark Knight. It's also unlike the various Batman children's TV cartoons over the years. The approach goes for a more "grown-up" Batman viewership/reader demographic, mainly via bloody PG-13 type violence, and not much humor. No Robin or Batgirl, and Gotham City is depicted as overwhelmed with gangs and bizarre evildoers.
Not for kids. It's too violent, I heard the A word once, and I saw some social drinking. This film is pretty good though.
What's the story?
BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHT is like an animated-movie equivalent of a comic book (hey, Batman in a comic book -- imagine that), with six separate directors/artist teams (with lots of CGI) handling different segments, as loosely linked storylines covering Batman's adventures in Gotham City. Most telling (and effective) is the opener, in which a bunch of skateboarding kids see Batman's running battle with a bad guy. Each has a different POV of the caped crime-fighter. One beheld him as a mighty robot, another as a supernatural shadow-being, and so on, until the real Batman shows up -- a vulnerable, flesh-and-blood man whose life is saved by one of the kids. Ensuing stories relate Bruce Wayne testing new gadgets, plunging into the freakish world of Arkham Asylum villains to save a kidnapped bishop, and going to India to learn the inner-strength secrets of the fakirs. In the finale he faces a hired sniper targeting Commissioner Gordon.
Is it any good?
The effect is not unlike The Animatrix -- uneven, disjointed, sometimes baffling, with some mesmerizing visuals, and not for all tastes. Batmaniacs have proven very accepting of bold, revisionist takes on their hero, and the cartoon Batman here was obviously meant to be taken seriously. The striking, protean animation is strongly influenced overall by Japanese anime, though it's a bit strange when Bruce Wayne looks like a tousle-haired Tokyo teen, ready for a round of Yu-Gi-OH! cards, more so than combating scoundrels like Scarecrow and Killer Croc (no Joker, no Riddler, no Penguin, not even a Robin or Batgirl to bring this one into more juvenile territory).
The flashback to India is the most emotionally satisfying episode, while the finale tries to tie various strands together. Naturally the shorthand-narrative format limits most of the material to action and terse dialog, only paying lip-service to, say, Batman's attitude toward guns (his parents were shot to death) instead of going into depth. The appeal is for those with a strong background in Batman-ology, rather than newcomers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the unconventional style and approach. What do kids think of this more "mature" Batman, in both late 20th-century comics and movies, vs. the earlier, more lighthearted Bat-antics, most infamously represented on 1960s TV. Is an animated Batman more effective than an actor in a live-action epic? Do you like Batman a psychologically tortured character or a straight-up high-tech crimebuster? You can discuss Batman as the dark counterpart to Superman and what makes him special among superheroes.
- In theaters: July 8, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: July 8, 2008
- Cast: Kevin Conroy, Pariminder Nagra, Rob Paulsen
- Directors: Brian Azzarello, David S. Goyer
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes
- Run time: 76 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: stylized violence, including some bloody images.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.