Batman: Gotham Knight ★★★

I first saw Batman: Gotham Knight when it was released on DVD, ahead of The Dark Knight. Since I was pulling an all-nighter with The Dark Knight Trilogy, I considered skipping this as it isn't one of the three live action films, but I decided to go ahead and revisit it because I think it's unlikely I'll want to sit through something like eight hours of these movies again anytime soon.

Why include it at all? The story was conceived by David S. Goyer, with whom Christopher Nolan wrote the first two chapters in the trilogy. It takes place in that Bat-universe, with direct references to the events of Batman Begins such as Jonathan Crane still being at large in the Narrows and introducing the character of Detective Ramirez. Tangential, but tangential enough that if I was gonna commit to the whole continuity in a single night, I may as well spend 76 minutes on it, right?

(Another key reason is that it was one of only two Blu-ray Discs remaining in my entire library that I hadn't logged at least one viewing of since I got my Blu-ray player in 2009.)

Aside from its place in the context of those movies, the real question is how it holds up on its own, seven years later. I'm not entirely sure, really. Some of it is interesting and satisfying; "Working Through the Pain" remains my favorite segment and holds up well. On the whole, though, too much of these stories feel recycled and either truncated or generic. There's nothing here that we haven't already seen ad infinitum in other Batman movies and TV episodes, to say nothing of decades of comic books.

In fact, one of the detriments is its opening story, "Have I Got a Story for You". It's based on Frank Robbins's 1973 story, "The Batman Nobody Knows" (Batman #250), in which three youths share with Bruce Wayne their respective perceptions of Batman, unaware that they're in the presence of the man himself. It's a great concept, but Batman: The Animated Series already nailed it with the terrific episode "Legends of the Dark Knight". For viewers unfamiliar with the original comic story or that TV episode, I suppose the segment may be as interesting to them as those earlier takes on the theme are to me, but all I see is somewhere I've already been.

In the end, I have to confess I like the idea of Batman: Gotham Knight more than I really like the film itself. As previously mentioned, this was one of just two remaining Blu-ray Discs in my library I hadn't already logged at least one viewing of since I began tracking such things in 2009. I've been a bit ruthless about parting ways with DVD's and Blu-rays of movies I feel unlikely to want to revisit and I have to say, this is now in the outgoing group.

One last note: I previously owned the 2-disc DVD edition, and one night I played its audio commentary. Somewhere in there, Kevin Conroy shares an anecdote of volunteering at a kitchen for emergency workers in the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks. When it came out that Conroy was the voice of Batman, he was challenged to prove it, which he did by reciting, "I am vengeance. I am the night. I am Batman!" It didn't heal anyone's wounds, but in the commentary he talks about how humbling it was that it seemed to boost morale, if only for a little while, during such a heartbreaking time.

Batman: Gotham Knight Re-Ranked on My Flickchart (#438/1683)

Batman: Gotham Knight > Jurassic Park III → #438
Batman: Gotham Knight < The Brave One → #438
Batman: Gotham Knight < Jennifer's Body → #632
Batman: Gotham Knight > Meet Bill → #632
Batman: Gotham Knight > The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore → #632
Batman: Gotham Knight > Moonraker → #632
Batman: Gotham Knight < Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer → #645
Batman: Gotham Knight > Fantastic Four (2005) → #645
Batman: Gotham Knight > Elektra → #645
Batman: Gotham Knight > X2 → #639
Batman: Gotham Knight > Spider-Man 3 → #645

Batman: Gotham Knight was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #645/1683

I didn't expect to encounter five head-to-head matches against superhero movies in that re-ranking process! I think that's indicative of how so many of them fall into mostly the same range of "Yeah, I kinda dig this because I'm an invested geek, but no, I'm not really up on them as actual films".