Batman: Gotham Knight

Six animated visions of the Caped Crusader, as envisioned by six unique animé directors and six different writers

DVD Watch

Batman: Gotham Knight

Warner Home Video, $29.98

Set between the events of Batman Begins (2005) and this summer's The Dark Knight, Batman: Gotham Knight offers six animated visions of the Caped Crusader as envisioned by six unique animé directors and six different writers. This third original direct-to-DVD release in the DC Universe Original Animated Movies line loosely weaves the divergent pieces into a coherent storyline.

As expected, the stories differ radically in artistic styles and overall quality. The first installment, "Have I Got a Story for You," written by Josh Olson (A History of Violence) and directed by Shoujirou Nishimi (Tekkon Kinkreet), plays successfully with the Batman-as-urban-myth motif and serves as the ideal opening segment. The final contribution, "Deadshot," scripted by longtime Batman contributor Alan Burnett and directed by Jong-Sik Nam, with animation production by Madhouse Ltd., introduces the self-titled high-society gentleman killer-for-hire. Showcasing the most fascinating villain in the film, the sequence effectively wraps up the loose ends of the previous chapters. The in-between segments range from pretty good ("In Darkness Dwells") to intriguing ("Working Through Pain") to abysmal ("Field Test"). The latter, with a first-time scripter, Jordan Goldberg (Dark Knight associate producer), and direction by Tsubasa Chronicle's Hiroshi Morioka, fails as both a story and as an art piece. The inane, difficult-to-follow story features a nearly unidentifiable Bruce Wayne. Thankfully, the producers wisely hired longtime Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy, who unifies the various artistic visions of the Dark Knight.

The two-disc set contains two excellent documentaries (especially the entertaining Bob Kane biography); an interesting preview of the dynamic-looking, forthcoming Wonder Woman film; a boring audio commentary that offers little insight; and four bonus episodes from the classic Nineties' Batman: The Animated Series.

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