Director of such dark 'Batman' films as 'Batman - Year One' and 'The Killing Joke', Sam Liu, brings us a new take on the Caped Crusader. Here we have a "what if" story, taking place in the Victorian age, pitting a not-so-gadgety Batman against none other than Jack the Ripper.
It ends up being a sort of film-noir detective story, featuring variations on characters like Catwoman as a stage actress, Poison Ivy as a stripper, Harvey Dent without his second face, and Hugo Strange who still plays a doctor at Arkham Asylum.
I think for the most part, this movie was a neat rendition on Batman, offering up something very familiar, but new and different all at once. The only thing about it that irked me a bit, was it's surprise ending. I'm still trying to wrap my head around whether I liked it because it was so incredibly unexpected, or hated it because of what it means for the character involved. It was almost as surprising at Batgirl getting it on with Batman in 'The Killing Joke' - awkward. But, same director, so maybe there's something to be said about his need for "shock value", especially when he's getting R ratings.
I enjoyed that there was a much more basic Batman here, and he didn't just automatically have the gadget to get out of whatever situation he was in. This was a fallible Batman, and I enjoy when his films do things to show us that Batman isn't just invincible. This is why the Bane story line has always been a personal favorite.
All this said, I don't actually know how close this comes to it's corresponding graphic novel. Is it like 'The Killing Joke' and pretty much a carbon copy (except for that first half hour or so), or is it kind of it's own thing, loosely based on the graphic novel? After seeing 'The Killing Joke' for myself, I'm gonna imagine that I got more out of this movie by not knowing how it's comic story line goes. It's not anything I'd call a "masterpiece", but it was well done for what it was. I might not have liked the ending, but I'm willing to give this the benefit of the doubt, considering it's taking place in a totally alternative universe. Check it out, and judge for yourself.