Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One is the best, and also the most important, Batman story ever told. Miller’s work in “Year One” redefined Batman, painting him in a darker, grittier tone that made him one of the best fictional characters. “Year One” has also inspired a lot of great Batman stories, including Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. So, when I found out that DC is going to adapt Miller’s classic graphic novel into an animated form, I got very excited.
Unfortunately, while it is a faithful recreation of the graphic novel, the animated version of “Year One” is a bore. Mostly because it is too faithful to the source material that it also plays out like a comic book. The animation here is so poor that it’s only a step up to a motion comic. The voice-overs didn’t help either. They sounded flat and dull. Especially, Ben McKenzie (that star from The O.C. and Southland), who did the voice of Batman/Bruce Wayne. There was no gravitas in his voice. As if he is only reading his lines, not acting them.
Bryan Cranston (from Breaking Bad), who voiced Gordon, is the only thing good about this animated movie. Unlike other voice actors, he actually did a pretty good job. In fact, he did so good that I only remember the Gordon scenes, even though the movie is equally focused on Gordon and Batman, of how the two men are trying to fight for Gotham.
Included in the “Year One” Blu-Ray/DVD is an animated short featuring Catwoman. I actually enjoyed this short. It doesn’t have any substance or story. But the action in it is very entertaining. It has the best fight scene I’ve seen in a DCU animation. Plus, Catwoman also did a sizzling striptease sequence in this short.
Overall, Batman: Year One is a disappointing adaptation of a classic. I suggest that you only rent it and watch it if you have time to spare. Or, better yet, you should instead waste your time watching Batman Begins or reading Batman: Year One graphic novel (if you haven’t done so yet).