COVERAGE - HOME VIDEO REVIEW

Batman: Year One Home Video Release
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: October 18th, 2011

Synopsis:
Comics legend Frank Miller’s classic retelling of Batman’s gritty, formative days makes its full-length animated debut in Batman: Year One, the Fall 2011 entry in the popular, ongoing series of DC Universe Animated Original Movies. Produced by Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation, the all-new, PG-13 rated film on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD, On Demand and for Download. Batman: Year One is based on the landmark 1987 DC Comics titles from 12-time Eisner Award winner Frank Miller and illustrator David Mazzucchelli. The film depicts young Bruce Wayne’s return to Gotham City in his first attempts to fight injustice as a costumed vigilante. The playboy billionaire chooses the guise of a giant bat to combat crime, creates an early bond with a young Lieutenant James Gordon (who is already battling corruption from inside the police department), inadvertently plays a role in the birth of Catwoman, and helps to bring down a crooked political system that infests Gotham.

Blu-ray Bonus Features:
-Sneak Peek at Justice League: Doom, the next DC Universe Animated Original Movie
-Sneak Peek at Green Lantern: Emerald Knights and All-Star Superman
-DC Showcase Animated Original Short – Catwoman: This all-new entry to the growing canon of DC Universe animated shorts features the first first solo tale centered around Catwoman. The felonious feline’s adventure takes her through the seedy streets of Gotham City. Catwoman is voiced by Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse, Tru Calling).
-Featurette –“Heart of Vengeance: Returning Batman to His Roots”: The Dark Knight Returns provided the denouement of Batman's life. Frank Miller's next seminal work would provide his near-mythic origin in Batman: Year One. This documentary uncovers the contemporary genius of Miller and the audience that was poised to appreciate the depths of his work.
-Featurette –“Conversations with DC Comics”: The Batman creative team at DC Entertainment discusses the personal influence of Batman: Year One on their careers. Batman producer Michael Uslan leads the chat amongst well-known writers, editors and artists of the Batman lore, focusing their dialogue on the darker, realistic interpretation of Batman’s origins by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
-Audio Commentary with Alan Burnett, Sam Liu, Mike Carlin and Andrea Romano
-Batman: Year One, Chapter 1 Digital Comic Book
-Two bonus episodes from Batman: The Animated Series, handpicked by Bruce Timm
-Standard and high definition versions of the feature film
-Digital copy on disc of the feature film

Two-Disc Special Edition Bonus Features:
-Sneak Peek at Justice League: Doom, the next DC Universe Animated Original Movie
-Sneak Peek at Green Lantern: Emerald Knights and All-Star Superman
-DC Showcase Animated Original Short – Catwoman: This all-new entry to the growing canon of DC Universe animated shorts features the first first solo tale centered around Catwoman. The felonious feline’s adventure takes her through the seedy streets of Gotham City. Catwoman is voiced by Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse, Tru Calling).
-Featurette –“Heart of Vengeance: Returning Batman to His Roots”: The Dark Knight Returns provided the denouement of Batman's life. Frank Miller's next seminal work would provide his near-mythic origin in Batman: Year One. This documentary uncovers the contemporary genius of Miller and the audience that was poised to appreciate the depths of his work.
-Two bonus episodes from Batman: The Animated Series, handpicked by Bruce Timm

Single-Disc Bonus Features:
-Sneak Peek at Justice League: Doom, the next DC Universe Animated Original Movie
-Sneak Peek at Green Lantern: Emerald Knights and All-Star Superman
-DC Showcase Animated Original Short – Catwoman: This all-new entry to the growing canon of DC Universe animated shorts features the first first solo tale centered around Catwoman. The felonious feline’s adventure takes her through the seedy streets of Gotham City. Catwoman is voiced by Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse, Tru Calling).



Batman: Year One Blu-ray Review
by James Harvey

Batman fans should be very happy with the collection of bonus extras found on the Blu-ray release of Batman: Year One. Warner Home Video has put together another nice collection of extras and a solid presentation for the main feature.

Audio and video is pretty excellent for this release. The video is of the same usual quality for these DC Universe Animated Original Movie titles. There is some banding and some noticeable macroblocking here and there, but nothing too obtrusive. The blacks are incredible solid here, managing to make the image very dark without effecting the color palette. The audio is spectacular. Whether it’s bullets raining down on Batman as he faces off against the cops, or the sleazy guitar riff as our hero patrols Gotham’s streets, everything sounds crystal clear. The voice overs, the action, all of it is pretty perfect.

Moving on to the bonus content – up first is the fifth (and potentially final) DC Showcase short Catwoman is rip-roaring fun. The playful, sexy tone really works for this nice 15-minute adventure. The voice work by Dushku is spot-on, ditto with the hilarious John DiMaggio, bringing to life an energetic script by Paul Dini. Kudos also go out to director Montgomery and composer Drake, both of whom help bring out the fierce in this little skit. While the short does somewhat overdo it on the sexy a little too much at times, it’s still an entertaining yarn.

Now to the supplemental material, first up is a rather entertaining commentary with Alan Burnett, Andrea Romano, Mike Carlin, and Sam Liu. The commentary allowed these members of the film’s crew to not only discuss the artistic decisions made in adapting Batman: Year One into an animated feature, but they also look back at the original comic story and the influence of Frank Miller’s work. All in all, it’s an entertaining listen. Very laid back and cool, just casual. Naturally, fans of the Bat-mythos will get plenty out of this.

The two documentaries (or featurettes) included are a nice mix of Batman’s past and present, though both emphasize Miller’s work. Up first is the roughly 26-minute “Heart of Vengeance: Returning Batman to his Roots.” And yes, the title pretty much spells out the theme, which tells the story of DC Comics moving Batman away from his campy adventures and back to his more dark, gritty...ah...roots. Everyone is given fair credit here, not just Frank Miller. While Miller’s work was a major influence in the perception of Batman no longer being this campy crusader, the featurette also give proper credit to the likes of Dennis O’Neil and Neil Adams. While they actually returned Batman to his dark roots in the 70s, it wasn’t really mainstream news until Miller’s work on The Dark Knight Returns. Thankfully the featurette/documentary acknowledges that. The live-action movies are also discussed lightly. The other documentary is the roughly 40-minute “Conversations with DC Comics: Featuring the 2-11 Batman Creative Teams.” A fairly light feature, the documentary talks with the recent creators - such as Scott Snyder and Dan Didio - on the Batman comics along with their influences, etc. Frank Miller is name-checked quite a bit here, naturally, but it’s a fun, light piece that does a fine job at getting the viewer caught up on modern-day Batman comics. This documentary was obviously done before DC’s big “52” relaunch, both Didio and Snyder vaguely hint at changes and big events coming to the universe.

A digital comic of the first chapter of Batman: Year One is also included.

Naturally, the disc also includes a preview of the next DC Universe Animated Original Movie - Justice League: Doom. A standard featurette, it features a mix of talking heads, production artwork and actual clips from the movie. With a great story, an amazing cast of voice actors – including the return of Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly among others from the classic DC Animated Universe – and solid pedigree behind the camera (so to speak), this looks to be another winner. Brief ‘First Look’ featurettes on All-Star Supernan and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights are also included.

To comment on the bonus episode choices, they’re a mixed bag. We get the very, very excellent “Catwalk” episode – likely the best Catwoman episode from Batman: The Animated Series’ entire run – and it’s paired up with...”Cult of the Cat?” What? Why that episode? That episode is not very highly regarded, either as a Catwoman episode or as a general installment of Batman: The Animated Series. Why not “You Scratch My Back” or the incredibly fun “Batgirl Returns?” I just find that to be such an odd choice for a bonus episode.

The second disc included features both a digital copy and standard definition edition of Batman: Year One.

Once again, there are no featurettes on the creation of the main feature.

As always, the Blu-ray release of Batman: Year One is the way to go – there’s no doubt about it. The extras content provides a nice robust look at Batman’s comic book backgrounds and the influences of the original Batman: Year One comic. Toss in some enjoyable Batman: The Animated Series episodes and a fun little Catwoman short and you have a pretty good package of content. Thankfully, the main feature warrants this content, as well. An enjoyable movie that Batman fans should definitely check out, Warner Home Video has whipped up another home video release definitely worth adding to the collection with Batman: Year One.

Click here to continue to the Batman: Year One Feature Review


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