Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (2018)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Batman: Gotham by Gaslight</strong> (2018)

(In French, On TV, February 2019) While mainstream attention is focused on the live-action DC Universe movies, Batman fans have enjoyed a steady diet of more daring animated movies for the past few years. Gotham by Gaslight clearly shows how malleable the Batman universe can be when it strikes out in unusual directions. Here we have the characters and concepts reimagined for the late 18th century, with Batman fighting against Jack the Ripper while mentioning Houdini and Sherlock Holmes as contemporaries. It’s definitely an elseworld story given how the characterization of some familiar character is deliberately off persona. Fans of the original graphic novel should be advised that this is a very loose adaptation, to the point where readers will have plenty of new surprises in store. This being said, it’s only a surprise when you compare—in absolute terms, this is a familiar narrative that ends where you’d expect from the first few minutes even despite a few effective red herrings in the mix. As is often the case for historic reinterpretations, the draw here is the atmosphere and the incongruity of seeing a steampunk Batman more than a compelling story in itself. Even given the Batman animated movies’ tendency toward R-ratings, Gotham by Gaslight remains far too violent for its own sake—killing Poison Ivy is not how to make fans happy. The animation is also curiously cut-rate: unusually enough, TV motion smoothing may actually help here.

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