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Batman: Gotham By Gaslight (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

While the live action world of the DC superheros has been in a constant state of change, continually criticized for the quality and direction with which they have taken these legendary characters, the DCAU has been thriving quite mightily with its share of mostly good stories. This medium also allows more leniency in terms of interpretations and spin-offs. Now they are heading into the elseworld territory and I couldn’t be more excited where they are starting off at. Of course they are going to crutch on Batman, but why not? Batman is one we are all too familiar with in his regular form, he’ll be the one we most appreciate when done different. Gotham By Gaslight is a creation of Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. Hopefully with the success of this, maybe we could see something like Darren Aronofsky’s take on what became Batman Begins in an animated “elseworld” form. Gotham By Gaslight hits 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray on February 6th, so pre-order now to get yourself a copy of this exciting DCAU venture.

Film 

Batman: Gotham By Gaslight takes place at the turn of the century as America’s continued industrial revolution is to be showcased at a World’s Fair hosted by Gotham City. But while the world prepares to witness the glittery glory of Gotham’s technological advances, there is a killer loose in the city’s darkest sh adows. Preying on the city’s women, this killer is as precise as he is cruel. As Police Commissioner JamesGordon tries to calm the fears of Gotham’s citizens regarding the butcher called Jack the Ripper, the masked vigilante Batman enacts his own detective work – with the help of confident, capable Selina Kyle – to stop the Ripper’s murderous spree. Witness a world in flames as the notorious serial killer’s controlled savagery meets the calculated stealth of the Dark Knight.

This new spin on Batman, taking him to the era of Jack the Ripper. Complete with everything spun and logically twisted into the period, its just a fascinating thing to just be part of a kinda themed art gallery, but to have it actually work into a good story, that’s another feat. Its really bloody and quite spooky and disturbing at times. The film is complete with new takes on some of the essential character, but still keeping them true to who they’ve always been. You get the likes of Batman, Commissioner Gordon, Selina Kyle, Harvey Dent, Leslie Tompkins and Pamela Isley (though don’t get too attached. There are also fun little nods and fan service in the forms of things like having three street tough kids named Dickie, Jason and Tim and name dropping Johnny Gobs as the guy who first saw “the bat”.

I mentioned the fan service and its not obnoxious even though there are a couple on the nose moments. What that actually does is play into the film’s story. There are many any expectation, a history with the Batman lore as a fan that this one will use as a red herring and you’re not even realizing it. I was at a point where I was pretty damn certain I had this thing figured out, but still thought it was going to be really fun to watch play out. However, this damn thing pull the rug out from under me and had me shocked and surprised at where this story ended up going. I had never read this comic, so I don’t know if it played out the same, but damn, you got me!

Casting-wise, they’re pretty awesome. Bruce Greenwood returns as Batman, which I much more prefer than Jason O’Mara (And understand we can’t always have Kevin Conroy). Jennifer Carpenter really is fantastic as Catwoman, really rounding out the character and bringing a tough and sympathetic person through her performance that adds to the animated figure. Anthony Head is just perfect as Alfred. When you hear that bit of casting, you just sorta auto-nod “yeah, yeah”.

Batman: Gotham By Gaslight is the kind of thing I want more of from these DCAU movies. This was quite a fun adventure that was able to take everything we know and do its own thing with them without having to adhere to any sort of canon or continuity. Hell, just my prior knowledge had me hook line and sinkered on some red herrings or expectations, making it so much fun.  I know there’s a Batman Ninja Anime movie on the horizon and I NEED to see that and how about we do something cool like this with others as well.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail:  The DCAU once again drops on Blu-ray where the difference between it and the standard Blu-ray is there, but its a negligible jump. Its a crisper looking picture with a better saturation of color and natural blacks, but overall, to many people they could see it and think “Same diff”. If you want the best, this is it, if you want to save money, you’ll be fine with the standard Blu-ray.

Depth:  Movements are nice and smooth with no blurring or jittering present. The foreground characters look to have a nice degree of separation from the backgrounds and overall environments.

Black Levels: Blacks are natural and bring a good, deep look to them. Dark scenes look really nice and cultivated, keeping plenty of the animated detail intact. No crushing seen during this viewing.

Color Reproduction: Colors have a nice palette to them that is well saturated throughout. Purples look very nice in some of the lighting schemes and dresses worn. HDR really only takes effect when it comes to some of the roaring fires (Which are THE highlight of the HDR and color saturation, most coming in the climax), lamps and window lights.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: While this one doesn’t carry a banging Atmos track, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t bang. Its a balanced, clean mix with good detail and attention paid to the sound effects and their placement in here. Its upfront and loud and event the quieter moments are full of character and life.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Crashing, fire, horse clip clopping, crates bursting and and more have a nice bump in the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: This features a playful 5 channel track that tracks motion quite well through all speakers. Each channel has its own participation and the score is woven and placed niftily throughout.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and clean throughout with all diction well captured.

Extras 

Batman: Gotham By Gaslight comes with the Blu-ray edition and a digital copy. All bonus materials are found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

Audio Commentary

  • With Executive Producer Bruce Timm, Director Sam Liu and Writer Jim Krieg

A Sneak Peek at DC Universe’s Next Animated Movie, Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay (HD, 8:33) – Some scenes, tid bits from creators and storyboards for the next film in the DCAU.

Caped Fear: The First Elseworld (HD, 20:45) – Bruce Timm and others (No Mike Mignola, sorry) go over the history of comics turning to elseworlds for issues, but how Gaslight got its own run. They then go through their work on the production and breathing life into the comic through this animated film.

A Sneak Peek at Justice League Dark (HD, 8:14) 

A Sneak Peek at Batman: Bad Blood (HD, 11:45)  

From The DC Comics Vault: Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “Trials of the Demon!” (HD, 22:58) 

From The DC Comics Vault: Batman: The Animated Series, “Showdown” (SD, 21:19) 

Trailers – Batman vs. Two Face

Summary 

Batman: Gotham By Gaslight is as good as it promised and I hope we can see more like this, maybe one a year, going forward in the DCAU. This 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray boasts an improved picture quality of the standard Blu-ray (By a slimmer margin) and a pretty rad 5.1 track to go with it. The bonus materials accompany on the standard Blu-ray disc and a couple are reused Sneak Peek featurettes. For me, this one was a collector’s item and if you have a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray player and want the best it can be, well, that should answer it for you.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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