Just before the release of the masterpiece, The Dark Knight, Warner Brothers decided to follow the success of what they did with the AniMatrix, releasing a DVD of short Anime films. I was disappointed by AniMatrix, which was marketed essential viewing before seeing the second two Matrix films. They were a damp squib and only one of the shorts had anything to do with the main films. But luckily I quite enjoyed Batman Gotham Knight.
Batman Gotham Knight is six short film, around 12 minutes long, telling different stories about the Dark Knight. One includes a very interesting one about some skater teenagers saying they saw Batman, and came up with three very different versions of what Batman is. That short was good, and that was the weakest one as well. Other stories include Batman fighting against the Russian and Italian Mafia who are in the middle of a gang war, fighting the sewers against Scarecrow and Killer Croc, testing a new bit of equipment, a flashback story set in India and stopping Deadshot killing Lt. Gordon. My personal favourites out of the shorts are Working Through Pain and Deadshot, both telling good stories, and wonderfully action packed.
Batman Gotham Knight was marketed as a number of shorts set in-different the events of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. To me it felt more Christopher Nolan's films were more an influence then directly linked. Another influence must have been the great 90s animated series, with Kevin Conroy reprising his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman. The direction and the art is so wonderful to, I love anime and I like it when American and Japanese ideas are combined together. The storytelling and action is excellent. There are detailed character designs, like in Working Through Pain you got a real scene of India and young Bruce Wayne looked and fought like Bruce Lee. There are top writers and directors working on the shorts, including David S. Goyer, the writer of Batman Begins and the Dark Knight. Like the Nolan Batmans, the shorts try to shot a dark, more unpleasant Gotham, in a realistic city. There is corruption, and crime from low level thugs to organised crime leaders. Batman here is a symbol of hope and change for the city. The storytellers also try to take a more grounded view of the villains, even trying to make Killer Croc a little more believable (i.e. not a mutated crocodile).
Unlike the AniMatrix, the stories are interlinked in some way, making the shorts as a whole stronger, more like a good TV series. They are recurring themes like the gang war.
If I had to complain, I would have like to have seen more. I would have liked the shorts to have been longer, like 20 to 30 minutes. I think this level of animation and storytelling could, and should work as a excellent TV series, with a more adult audience because of the themes and violence.
Worth watching if you can get it at a good price.