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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Batman: Gotham Knight Out Today!

Have to take a minute to acknowledge the latest chapter of Batman animation that comes out today, and that's the straight-to-DVD movie Batman: Gotham Knight.

For the latest installment in DC/Warner Brother's line of straight-to-DVD animated movies based on DC characters, Warner Brothers decided to take their cues from The Animatrix. Batman was turned over to some of the biggest animation studios in Japan, to re-imagine Batman in an anime style. However, it was still American writers who wrote the segments.

That's right, it's not a film per se. Just like The Animatrix, it's divided into a series of short films. And these are the segments!

Have I Got a Story for You - Three kids catch a glimpse of Batman one night, and each one spins a yarn as to what they think Batman is really like. One portrays Batman as a Spawn-like character, the second claims Batman is a high-tech mech, and the third says Batman is a demonic creature akin to the Man-Bat. This one was written by John Olson, who wrote the movie version of A History of Violence.

Crossfire - Two Gotham City police detectives are caught in the crossfire of a gang war and have to get over their mis-trust of Batman so Batman can save them. This one was written by veteran comic book writer Greg Rucka.

Field Test - A close-up look at Batman's high-tech arsenal...and a fable about over-reliance on technology.

In Darkness Dwells - Batman has to venture into the sewers to apprehend the Scarecrow and also has to do battle with Killer Croc. This one was written by David S. Goyer, who wrote both Batman Begins and its upcoming sequel The Dark Knight.

Working Through Pain - A flashback to Batman's world tour, where Bruce Wayne encounters a mysterious Indian woman named Cassandra who teaches him how to block out his pain -- both physical and spiritual. This one was written by veteran comic book writer Brian Azzarello.

Deadshot - For the grand finale, it's Batman vs. Deadshot. As one critic put it, it's a villain obsessed with guns battling a hero who refuses to use them. This one was written by Alan Burnett, who was one of the key creative forces in the heyday of Batman: The Animated Series.

And, of course, the most nerd-tacular news about this is that Kevin Conroy, who did the voice of Batman on Batman: The Animated Series, is once again doing the voice of Batman. Because of it's proximity to the release of The Dark Knight, there were some rumors that Christian Bale would be voicing Batman, but it was just rumors.

The film is being released in a single-disc and a two-disc special edition. For the single disc version, for bonus materials you get a running commentary with producer Gregory Noveck, longtime Batman editor Dennis O'Neil, and Batman's voice Kevin Conroy. You also get a featurette on the next straight-to-DVD animated film, Wonder Woman.

On the 2-disc special edition, you also get:

Batman and Me: The Bob Kane Story - A featurette about Batman's creator, Bob Kane.

A Mirror for the Bat - A featurette analyzing Batman's rogues gallery.

And, four episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, chosen by Batman: The Animated Series and Batman: Gotham Knight producer Bruce Timm as being among the show's best. The four episodes are:

Heart of Ice - The re-vamped origin of Mr. Freeze, which was so popular that DC Comics instantly adopted it as Mr. Freeze's official origin.

I am the Night - Commissioner Gordon is fatally wounded in a botched police raid, leading Batman to question his purpose and contemplate hanging up the cape and cowl.

Legends of the Dark Knight - Three kids catch a glimpse of Batman one night, and each one spins a yarn as to what they think Batman is really like. One tells a tale that could have been ripped from an episode of the 1960s TV show, one tells a tale ripped directly from the pages of The Dark Knight Returns, and before the third one can tell his tale, they watch the real Batman (in this case, the DC Animated Universe Batman) in action.

Over the Edge - Batgirl is killed by the Scarecrow. Commissioner Gordon learns that Batgirl was, in fact, his daughter Barbara. Blaming Batman for his daughter's death, Commissioner Gordon vows to do "whatever it takes" to bring in Batman.

It's out today, and I can hardly wait to get it!

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