Synopsis: Inspired by the landmark one-shot Elseworlds tale by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola, 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. While the world prepares to witness the glittery glory of Gotham’s technological advances, however, there is a killer loose in the city’s darkest shadows. Preying on the city’s women, this killer is as controlled as he is cruel. As Police Commissioner Gordon 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 precise savagery meets the calculated stealth of the Dark Knight.
Review: Readers familiar with the source material can tell from the above synopsis that the film adaptation isn’t for purists. Indeed, “inspired by” is the operative legal phrase. Writer Jim Krieg effectively crafted an Elseworld from the seminal Elseworld. He combined Batman: Gotham By Gaslight with its sequel Batman: Master of the Future, added every Prime Earth character he logically could, and put the whole concoction in a blender. While I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend the original graphic novels, Krieg’s reworking has its own merits.
First, I loved the references to Sherlock Holmes, a mentor of Bruce’s, which were not included in the original graphic novels. My favorite was Bruce’s direct use of the code from Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Dancing Men.” Second, I loved the added characters. Selina Kyle, Harvey Dent, and the Cock Robins were perfectly translated for that universe. Third, Anthony Head was the latest actor to totally crush the role of Alfred.
As for the central mystery, it is a mystery even for those who’ve read the original. Krieg went in a different, but equally internally consistent direction. Top everything off with brilliantly realized set pieces, and the whole movie is excellent.
Batman: Gotham By Gaslight is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and V.O.D. now.
Cast: Bruce Greenwood, Jennifer Carpenter, Scott Patterson, Anthony Head, Yuri Lowenthal, John DiMaggio, William Salyers, Grey Griffin, Tara Strong, Bob Joles, David Forseth, Chris Cox, Lincoln Melcher, Kari Wuhrer
Director: Sam Liu
Producers: Sam Liu, Alan Burnett, Sam Register, Bruce Timm, Benjamin Melniker, Michael Uslan
Writer: Jim Krieg