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BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHT ($35) is an interesting collection of six short animated films that are set somewhere in the continuity of Christopher Nolan’s BATMAN BEGINS and THE DARK KNIGHT. This collection of short films could also be subtitled Batman: The Anime Way since its various Japanese directors all come from that discipline. Stylistically, each of the films are dissimilar, however Kevin Conroy voices Batman in all the short films and serves as a unifying factor. Personally, I am a huge fan of Conroy’s work since the days of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, and from where I sit; he is the one true voice of any animated Batman.

Have I Got A Story For You involves three kids telling of wildly different encounters with Batman. Crossfire finds two cops, with radically different opinions about Batman, caught in the middle of a gunfight between two different mob factions. Field Test finds Batman trying out a new piece of hardware developed by Wayne Industries. In Darkness Dwells places Batman in a dangerous encounter Killer Croc, who has become infected by the Scarecrow's fear toxin. Working Through Pain recounts how Bruce Wayne learned mental techniques to control physical pain, after Batman is seriously injured. Deadshot places both Batman and James Gordon in the crosshairs of an assassin who rarely misses his mark. The vocal talent behind BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHT also features Gary Dourdan, David McCallum, Corey Burton, Will Friedle, Brian George, Jason Marsden, Scott Menville, Jim Meskimen, Pat Musick, Parminder Nagra, George Newbern, Ana Ortiz, Corey Padnos, Rob Paulsen, Kevin Michael Richardson and Andrea Romano.

Warner Home Video has made BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHT available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p presentation is very good, although it is unlikely one will notice how much high definition brings to this type of stylized 2D animation, unless one were doing a side by side comparison with the SD DVD. For the most part, everything seems relatively crisp and well defined. Colors are strongly rendered and free from distortion. Black and whites always appear accurate. There are no issues with the contrast and the elements from which the animation has been mastered are free from major flaws.

BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHT is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital 640kbps soundtrack. For the most part, the track is well mixed and makes relatively good use of the outlying channels. As expected, the forward soundstage remains dominant. Thanks to the higher bit rate of Blu-ray, fidelity on the Dolby Digital track is pretty spiffy for this non-theatrical production. The bass channel is deep enough for the material. Spanish, German and Japanese language tracks are also encoded onto the disc. Subtitles are available in English, Spanish, German and Japanese.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with DC Comics Senior Vice President/Creative Affairs Gregory Noveck, former Batman comic editor Dennis O'Neil and the voice of Batman himself- actor Kevin Conroy. Next is Batman And Me, A Devotion Of Destiny: The Bob Kane Story, a thirty eight minute look at the life and career of the man who created the immortal comic book character. A Mirror For The Bat: The Evil Denizens Of Gotham City runs thirty-five minutes and looks at villains that make up the rogues’ gallery that Batman faces on a nightly basis. Wonder Woman Preview looks at the upcoming direct-to-video release. Four Episodes from BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES close out the supplements on a high note (and made me want to pull my boxed sets off the shelf and start watching the entire series all over again).

BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHT is certainly an interesting direct-to-video release, but not represent an animated Batman at his best. The Blu-ray release looks and sounds great- so one isn’t going to find anything to complain about on that front.



Batman Gotham Knight [Blu-ray] (2008)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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