After “Batman and Harley Quinn,” the cinematic adaptation of “Gotham By Gaslight” feels like a breath of fresh air. It brought me back to the time when Batman animation was mature and accessible, and we got entertainment like “Mask of the Phantasm” and “Return of the Joker.” Warner follows up with the aforementioned horrendous DC team up movie with what is a charming, creepy, and wholly creative twist on the Jack the Ripper legend that ponders on what would have happened if he and Batman were foes during the time he wrought havoc in the 1880’s.
Set in the late eighteen hundreds of the streets of Gotham, Jack the Ripper has set his sights on his normal array of female victims, and begins mutilating them in the darkness of the night. Little does he know Batman exists in this era, and now Batman begins investigating who is committing these horrific murders. What’s worse, is that Jack the Ripper is now being confused for Batman, and the local population think Batman is committing these horrendous crimes. With the help of whip wielding Selina Kyle, Bruce Wayne uses his wits to uncover history’s greatest mystery. Sam Liu manages to adapt the style of Mike Mignola quite beautifully, as “Gotham by Gaslight” is a strikingly gorgeous movie.
It’s a shame that the film itself is only eighty minutes, as I wanted to see more of this Gotham and this version of Batman. Bruce Greenwood reprises the role of Batman and Bruce Wayne, with an iteration of the character that embraces its serial pulp roots. If Batman were invented in another time period, he’d definitely be this steam punk avenger looking over a Victorian era Gotham, and the time adjustment works so well. I wanted to see what this character did on his off time, and I loved how he looked as the Dark Knight, how he investigated in a period scant on technology, and his dynamic with Selina Kyle. Jennifer Carpenter works well off of Greenwood, playing an anti-hero and love interest to Bruce Wayne.
After “Batman and Harley Quinn,” it’s nice to sit through an animated DC film that has substance, and texture, and depth. The world feels so three dimensional, with Batman helping to stop what is one of the worst serial killers of all time. There are a lot of fun twists and parallels to the Batman mythology, and Liu doesn’t shy away from the blood, staging some pretty cringe inducing murders. While I did kind of predict who Jack the Ripper was initially, that didn’t hobble what is such an immaculate and entertaining production with sharp animation and exciting action set pieces. I hope we see more adaptations like this down the line.
Featured is the 4K edition of the movie, along with a Digital copy and the Blu-Ray. There’s an audio commentary with executive Producer Bruce Timm, Director Sam Liu and Writer Jim Krieg. Next there’s an eight minute Sneak Peak at the awesome “Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay.” There’s the twenty minute “Caped Fear: The First Elseworld” which explores the other elseworlds tales from DC, how the original miniseries turned in to an extended run, and how they turned it in to a movie. Mike Mignola is not present. There’s an eight minute sneak peek at “Justice League Dark,” and an eleven minute sneak peek at “Batman: Bad Blood.” Finally, there’s another few episodes from the DC Comics Vault tossed in to this release. Featured is “Trials of the Demon!” from “Batman” The Brave and the Bold,” and “Showdown” from “Batman: The Animated Series.”