What is it that draws us to superheroes? They represent the good and noble. Batman: Year One (B:YO) on the other hand was a one hour and four minute parade of all that is wrong about humanity. You will not find any that are good in this somber, morose and dragging release. That includes Jim Gordon and even Batman himself.
Is B:YO based on a comic book of the same name? Probably. We do not know for sure, nor do we care. What may have made for a good comic book -MAY HAVE, certainly did not make for a satisfying video release. However, if you have just filled a prescription for your antidepressant of choice, we have just the picture for you! Perhaps it would have been more aptly named:
Jim Gordon: The Hardscrabble Early Police Years
Our synopsis in a sentence: Troubled billionaire Bruce Wayne returns to Beirut -er, Gotham City where he finds everything and everyone corrupt from the ubiquitous criminal scum to even the Mos Eisley Spaceport Police Force which are a wretched hive of scum and villainy -wait, we meant the Gotham City Police Force against which a whiny, indecisive and amateurish new Batman tries to right the wrongs along with the depressing drama’s real star, gun toting, bat wielding tough guy Jim Gordon who of course is also morally flawed.
Yes, Jim Gordon spends more time combating evil than Bruce Wayne. The latter spends most of this dolorous movie agonizing in dark rooms in Wayne Manor, or whining mournful dirges out in the snow in front of gravestones.
It seems few even want to clean up Gotham City. You are given the impression it has been corrupt for a long time, and that the city has accepted its deplorable state of moral decay. And honestly by the end of the picture, the woeful state has hardly changed. Nor do you really end up caring. That city as depicted deserves what it gets.
There really is no overarching story. Bruce Wayne meanders his way to becoming Batman, but there is little time devoted to it. Most of the time is spent on amazingly buff Jim Gordon, ex-kick butt commando. Jim Gordon who takes a bat to a corrupt police officer. Jim Gordon who wants to clean up the mess that has become Gotham City. And of course in keeping with this perfidious production, an adulterer behind the back of his pregnant wife.
If you are a hard-core comic book fan who just loved the comic this production was based upon (or Nolan’s The Dark Knight), you may have some curiosity about seeing B:YO. If you are looking for an entertaining and (even mildly) uplifting story about fighting evil, this is most certainly not for you. There is bad in the world, and evil. However we do not have to, nor should we make it our continual focus.