Batman: Gotham Knight (PG-13)
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Well, this is a direct-to-DVD movie, or actually a collection of six shorts, which supposedly bridges the gap between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. It's written by Americans and animated by Japanese studios, each segment with its own animation style. Watching the first story, I immediately thought of "Tekkon Kinkreet," even though at this point I haven't actually seen that anime. The others... I don't think any major similarities to other animes really jumped out at me, they all looked sort of similar to me, different from the first one. But that doesn't mean they weren't unique. In any event, there is a connective thread throughout each episode, even if I didn't immediately see it. It soon enough became apparent. Certainly there were a few characters who appeared in more than one story, though probably Batman was the only one in every story. And these characters all had the same voice actors in each story, most notably Batman himself, voiced by Kevin Conroy, who also provided his voice in Batman: The Animated Series (though this movie bears no relation to that series; interestingly, in this movie he occasionally somewhat reminded me of Steve Blum, who's done voice work on lots of animes. But that's probably just my delusional mind at work....)
Anyway, the first episode is "Have I Got a Story For You." There are these four skateboarding kids who meet up, and three of them tell stories of encounters with the Batman. The first boy tells a story in which Batman seemed to him like a living shadow, fighting a bad guy down by the docks. Then a girl talked about Batman fighting the same villain, slightly earlier in the day; but she saw Batman as a giant bat. Or whatever. Then another boy tells a story set slightly earlier still, when the villain in question first attempted a robbery, and the Batman showed up to stop him. In his story, Batman was a robot. Another boy in the group was disappointed that he hadn't seen Batman, but then Batman and the villain showed up where the kids were talking, and there the fight concluded....
The next story is "Crossfire," which introduces us to detectives Crispus Allen and Anna Ramirez. (Apparently Allen already existed within the Batman universe, though I was unfamiliar with him; his partner, Ramirez, I have no knowledge of having existed before this, though I feel like she could be based on Renee Montoya... but I have no idea why they'd change her name, so maybe not.) We also see Lt. James Gordon in this episode. He's apparently established a division within the Gotham PD, called the Major Crimes Unit (MCU), of which Allen and Ramirez are members. It seems Allen doesn't trust Batman, considering him a vigilante, though it may be simply that he resents the feeling that the MCU doesn't have much of any real importance to do, with Batman doing the stuff he feels they should be doing. Anyway, the story starts with the detectives transporting a dangerous criminal Batman has captured, but soon after that, they get caught in the crossfire between rival gangs. One is led by someone referred to as "The Russian," and the other is, I think, led by someone named Maroni (who is apparently another previously extant character in the Batman universe, who I don't recall ever having heard of). Allen and Ramirez might have been killed, if not for the intervention of Batman, so I guess after this Allen learns to trust him.
The next story is "Field Test," and at this point I want to mention that in several of the stories on this DVD... I didn't always completely follow everything that was going on. This story starts with Bruce Wayne talking to Lucius Fox. There was something about some satellite technology, I guess. And Lucius adapted it to produce an EMP that I guess could deflect bullets, which might come in handy for Bruce's alter ego, the Batman. Bruce first tested it on the golf course. Don't ask. Later he tested it in a fight involving the Russian and Maroni. I guess. I really have very little idea what was going on here, but in the end, Bruce decides to abandon the technology, for a reason I won't reveal. *shrug*
The fourth segment is "In Darkness Dwells." Allen, Ramirez, and Gordon were investigating some incident. Then Batman gets involved. He goes down to the sewers, looking for Killer Croc. At one point there was something about a pneumatic system for transporting coffins between cemeteries, or something. I don't think that was in any way important, but I thought I'd mention it since, you know, WTF? ...But anyway, there was also something about the Scarecrow's fear toxin, and apparently he'd been doing some experiments on Croc, or something, and in the battle against Croc, Batman got infected by the toxin. So I wasn't really sure if anything he thought he saw or heard could really be considered reliable after that point. I think he fought the Scarecrow after that, and rescued some Cardinal. Or something. I dunno.
Next came "Working Through Pain." Batman is chasing some criminal, seems pretty standard to me. But Batman gets shot, and I think the criminal got away. And eventually Batman contacted Alfred to come help him. But in the meantime, he apparently had some flashbacks. There was a brief one in which Bruce was a volunteer relief worker, acting as a medic or something. Then a longer one, apparently set in India. Bruce was trying to learn methods of dealing with pain, as part of his training to become the Batman. Apparently, a number of fakirs had refused to help him, but then he was accepted by a woman named Cassandra. She had been trained by fakirs, as a joke or something, and later became an outcast. I dunno, whatever. But she helped train Bruce, before finally sending him away. He felt he'd learned what he wanted to, though she felt he had a kind of pain that was beyond her ability to help him deal with. (Presumably this is emotional pain relating to the death of his parents.)
Finally, we have "Deadshot," a rather straightforwardly titled story about the hired assassin known as Deadshot. It begins with Bruce recalling the murder of his parents. And a bit later, we find that he has a collection of guns (I think they were taken from criminals he had fought). Of course Batman would never use a gun, but here he expresses a slightly disturbing appreciation for them, or at least an understanding of what others might appreciate about them. Meanwhile, the Russian has apparently hired Deadshot to kill a cop in Gotham, and one gets the impression that it was supposed to be Gordon... though predictably enough, this turns out to be merely a means of flushing out the true target, Batman himself. Of course, eventually Batman beats him.
And, um, yeah... that's about all I can think to say. But it was interesting enough, and well enough acted and animated. I felt the whole was greater than the sum of its parts, sort of.