A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Batman: Year One is a feature-length animated action movie based on Frank Miller's popular comic books. It's fairly violent and includes a shocking sequence in which a newborn infant is kidnapped and placed in danger. There's also the expected fighting and shooting (with some blood shown). The movie also includes some sexual content, with images of a red-light district and prostitutes, suggestions of an extramarital affair, and (in the accompanying short film) images of a strip club. The occasional strong language goes as far as "bitch" and "bastard."
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What's the story?
In BATMAN: YEAR ONE, young Lt. Gordon -- the future Commissioner Gordon (voiced by Bryan Cranston) -- arrives in Gotham City to start his new job at the ultra-corrupt Gotham Police Department. At the same time, young billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben McKenzie) is trying to figure out how to start his career as a crime fighter and finds inspiration when a bat flies through his window. The police see Batman as a vigilante and start working to either catch or kill him, but Gordon sees him as something else. Can Gordon stop the corrupt cops before Batman's career is permanently cut short? And what's the story behind another costumed fighter who turns up, called Catwoman (Eliza Dushku)?
Is it any good?
The directors of All-Star Superman and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights return for this dark, noir-ish take on the first chapter of Batman and Commissioner Gordon's careers. Batman: Year One looks great, with a moody use of shadows and darkness and dreary, lowdown locations. But the main problem is that, at only 64 minutes, it's too short; Gordon's story feels fully fleshed-out, but Batman's story is surprisingly truncated.
It helps that actor Cranston (from both Drive and TV's Breaking Bad) does a terrific job with Gordon's conflicted voice. But McKenzie (from The O.C. and Southland) seems too young and complacent for Batman; he sounds more like a frat boy than a tormented loner. Moreover, for a movie this short, too many supporting parts are fighting for space; it takes place over the course of a year, so the story feels bigger than it really is. But if we allow that Gordon is actually the main character, then his journey is a fascinating one.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Batman: Year One's violence. When does it cross the line from thrilling to shocking? What's the difference?
How does this version of Batman's story compare with others you've seen or read?
Is Batman a vigilante? Should he be arrested, or should he be allowed to help the police? What's the difference between law and justice?
- On DVD or streaming: October 18, 2011
- Cast: Benjamin McKenzie, Bryan Cranston, Eliza Dushku
- Directors: Lauren Montgomery, Sam Liu
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes
- Run time: 64 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence and some sexual material
- Last updated: November 15, 2019
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