on 17 June 2012
This boxset (yet to be released at the time of writing) compiles 5 of DC's animated Batman from over the years. For the sake of this review I will give each film a short review and then an overview of the set.
Mystery of the Batwoman: Easily the weakest film in the set, "Batwoman" is set in DC's legendary animated universe (Comprised of Batman, Superman, Batman Beyond, The Zeta Project, Static Shock, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited plus a handful of Batman movies, more on those later) doesn't live up to the heights set but it's forebears but it's pretty decent, good for kids. 3/5
Mask of the Phantasm: Another entry in the DCAU and probably the best film of the set. A mysterious killer is eliminating mob bosses and framing Batman while Bruce must confront a long lost piece of his past. Add in Mark Hamill as Joker (also in the Arkham games) and you have a great animated movie with a beautiful art-deco style, a good plot full of tension and twists and you have the only Bat-movie that could possibly rival The Dark Knight. 5/5
Under the Red Hood: A stand-alone movie based on Judd Winick's "Under the Hood" this emotional and dark tale shows a miserable and lonely Batman confront a mysterious figure from his past. The reveal is obvious but this is about the journey, not the destination, at what a journey it is... 5/5
Gotham Knight: Set between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight this anthology of 6 anime shorts that form an overreaching arc that bridges the gap between the two Nolon films. Conroy returns to voice Batman filling in for Christian Bale from the Nolan films. Not bad but pretty forgettable. It's saving grace is the fantastic animation that varies in all 6 films. 4/5
Year One: The hardest of the set to review, this is a word for word, shot-for-shot recreation of Frank Miller's seminal Batman: Year One. As it is identical to the book aside from a few lines about Superman cut you may as well just read the book. That said however it is still a good watch. 3/5
Closing thoughts: A great value set for 5 entertaining films featuring the caped crusader. The only issue I have with it is that all these films have already been released in the UK so it's a shame they didn't include any US-only movies like Batman/Mr Freeze: Sub-Zero, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker or The Batman vs Dracula.
on 16 June 2012
Mystery of the Batwoman is a film based on the 1990s animated series, and had a good, engaging storyline. A new heroine appears on the scene; a woman posing as Batwoman, whom he does not recognise. Amidst this, there is a subplot involving the Penguin, Rupert Thorne and Bane. While the plot involving these villains is a fairly solid story in itself, it only goes towards providing a backdrop for the true story - the identity of the Batwoman - to play out in. Overall, a very good story, with some impressive animation shots and a fairly interesting set of characters. 7/10
(In addition, the Mystery of the Batwoman DVD comes with a short film called "Chase Me", which features Batman chasing Catwoman across Gotham. While there is no speech in this film (apart from maybe a few words at the beginning and end), the entire thing is set to music, which works fantastically.)
Mask of the Phantasm is the earliest film in this set, and is also based on the 1990s animated series. It features a new villain, known only as the Phantasm, who seems to act as a vengeful vigilante, killing various gangsters across Gotham. Of course, Batman must work out the identity and then stop the killer. Alongside this story, two other tales are told. The first explores Bruce Wayne's earlier life, and reveals how this version of Batman almost didn't become Batman. The other plot of the film explores some of the origin of the Joker, and we find out what sort of person the animated series' version of the character was before he became the Prince of Crime. In general, an extremely solid film, clearly written to be a feature-length version of the critically acclaimed cartoon series. In this, it is extremely successful. 8/10
Gotham Knight is a series of six short stories featuring Batman, and was released as a sort of tie-in between Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Each is presented by a different animating team, however each short film uses the Anime style.
The first story is entitled "Have I Got A Story For You" and features three streets kids telling a story of an encounter with Batman. Each story exaggerates some aspect of Batman, for example, by describing him as being half-man, half-bat, or likening him to a battle robot.
The second story, entitled "Crossfire" explores a couple of cops' views of the Batman, before they are caught in the crossfire between two gangs.
The third story, entitled "Field Test", involves the testing of a new piece of equipment, designed to "bounce" bullets back before they hit their target.
"In Darkness Dwells" is a story about Killer Croc attacking a church service in a cathedral. Batman follows him down into the sewers.
"Working Through Pain" features a flashback of Bruce Wayne's training years.
"Deadshot" introduces the villain of the same name, the deadliest and most accurate assassin in the world.
All six stories contain a running theme, and ultimately follow on from each other. While the stories themselves are very good, some continuity feels to be lost between the individual films. Nevertheless, it is a welcome addition. 6/10
"Under the Red Hood" is a stand-alone film based on the comic-book series "Under The Hood". Without spoiling this (truly excellent!) story, it features the emergence of a new and vengeful vigilante, calling himself the Red Hood, who begins to take over some of Gotham's drug gangs, in order to ultimately destroy crime. The Joker also plays a large part in the storyline, with some fantastic scripting in a couple of places! The story also features the original Robin, Dick Grayson, in his role as Nightwing, as well as Black Mask, who at this point (for anyone not familiar with the comic books), is in control of most of Gotham's gangs. The story is gritty, with some fantastic twists. And while the film does provide you with plenty of blatant clues as to the identity of the Red Hood from fairly early on, the reveal is done extremely well. Definitely the best film in this set! 9/10
Finally, "Year One" is also based on Frank Miller's comic-book series of the same name. It tells the story of how Bruce Wayne became Batman, and his first big case as the Dark Knight. It also tells the story of Jim Gordon as he starts his work in Gotham City, making many mistakes along the way. Catwoman is also present, and in line with the rest of the themes of the film (including murder and adultery), her origin is particularly gritty. While it is never specifically mentioned, it is fairly clear that Selina Kyle (aka, Catwoman) starts her story as a prostitute; a fact that really sets the tone of this dark and gritty realisation of Batman's world. This particular adaptation of Frank Miller's classic story is extremely faithful, with many scenes and bits of dialogue being perfectly lifted from the comic book. 8/10
(It is worth noting that Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" is partly based on Frank Miller's "Year One", and so the two share some themes.)
All in all, a fantastic collection of films, with some great stories spanning almost 20 years of animation"
on 2 August 2012
When I saw that this box set was coming out for just £10 I knew that I had to buy it.
I already owned Under The Red Hood and Mask of The Phantasm and had seen Gotham Knight but did not own it. £10 to have all 5 films in one box seemed like a dream come true, I would have been willing to pay that price just to buy Year One.
If you're reading this review I assume you are already a Batman fan and these movies are probably fairly familiar to you, but if you are considering buying the box set them it's always worth seeing someone else's review:
Under The Red Hood is in my opinion the finest animated Batman film yet. You get Ra's Al Ghul, The Joker (with perfect voice acting from John "Bender Rodriguez" DiMaggio), Nightwing, Robin, Alfred (of course) and the titular named Red Hood. I'm not one for spoilers, so all I will say is that this is one great film, the big reveal seems obvious, but I do read comics so I knew what was going to happen. It's dark, It's mature and for Batman fans this one gets a full 5 stars.
Batman: Year One was a new film for me, hadn't seen it before I got the box set so my review is based on just one viewing. It is a direct adaptation of the comic from the same name, but even if you've read the comic like I have, it's still fantastic seeing it brought to life in animated form. Jim Gordon moves to the Gotham City Police Department after making enemies in the last police force he worked for. Bruce Wayne is returning to Gotham after 12 years away and begins taking his first steps into becoming the Batman. These two righteous men who both want to clean up Gotham are bound to find themselves being drawn together. We also meet Selina Kyle transforming from prostitute to cat burglar to possible vigilante and her early interactions with Batman. The comic was very influential to Christopher Nolan's Batman films, even in his latest and last Batman film The Dark Knight Rises you can see that he again borrowed heavily from this story for the Seilna Kyle aspects. It is about Batman's first year on the job and Jim Gordon is very much front and centre so don't expect too much Batman. Having said that, it is an excellent animated film, again it is dark and mature and I would also give this one a full 5 stars.
Gotham Knight is a harder one to review. 6 anime shorts, all done in very different animated styles (don't expect Batman, Bruce Wayne or even the Batmobile to look the same from one story to another). Some of the shorts are OK and a couple are really good. There's no connecting story arc but is meant to be a snaphot of the life of Batman set between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. It's fun to watch and I'm glad I have seen it, but I'm not sure if it has enough about it to make me want to watch it again. Good fun but hardly classic so it gets 3 stars from me.
Mask Of The Phantasm is where my credibility may now be lost. It's an entertaining film but I can't understand the critical reception it receives. Many Batman fans feel this is the best film (either animated or live-action) the caped crusader has ever been in. Many people will argue that Kevin Conroy is the definitive Batman and that Mark Hamill is the ultimate Joker. I disagree. Mask Of The Phantasm is a fun film, but it is very much set in the DC animated universe of the 90s, with it's gothic 1940s style of Gotham. I find that world to feel quite dated now and feel like it is a little too kiddie-friendly for a grown-up fan like myself. Good film, not too dissimilar in plot to Under the Red Hood but not perfect by any means. A solid 3 star film.
Finally we have Mystery Of The Batwoman, this was the next film after Mask Of The Phantasm and as such takes place in that same universe. Again I will break with popular perception and say that I prefer this to Phantasm. This one is also a bit more kiddie-friendly but it's also a lot of fun. The Penguin, Bane, Batman, Robin and a mysterious new Batwoman (or is that Batwomen?) who has no affiliation to the caped crusader himself. It plays out like an extended episode of a Saturday morning cartoon, so you'll get no dark/mature themes here, but you will get an entertaining story and a bit of innocent Batman adventuring. 4 stars.
Basically if you're a Batman fan then for £10 you need to own this set. Even if you own a couple of the films already just do what I've done and sell them and get this! All 5 discs are the same as the ones that you would get if you bought them individually so you don't miss out on any special features whatsoever. My only small gripe is that they've managed to cram all 5 discs into a single sized DVD case and I don't know if it's just my copy but the DVDs don't seem to hold in place very well and are often loose when I open up the case.
Even so, now I've got it I wouldn't give up this set for anything. Like I said, an essential purchase for any Batman fan.
on 16 March 2013
Five maturely themed animated movies not just for fans but anyone interested in good drama.
As others have said, Mystery of the Batwoman is a bit of a dud, which is all the more apparent when compared to the other four.
My advice when watching these is to watch them in reverse order. Start with Year One, based on the classic graphic novel. Bruce Wayne's first year as Batman after 12 years abroad. Will, he make it? Gordon's story runs in parallel and is just as interesting.
Gotham Knight is Batman as a newbie learning the ropes. The six short stories (interlinked) are done in different animation styles, and all the more fun for it. None of the styles is better or worse than any other, just enjoy the ride.
Under the Red Hood is not the origin story of a certain Batman baddie, but a much more complex story involving someone much closer to Batman! I think this is my second favourite of the five. Also, listen to the sound track, both exciting and moody - nobody skimped when making this.
Mask of the Phantasm is my favourite, and probably the oldest of the 5 films. There's a mystery and a dilemma for Batman and a decision for Bruce Wayne to make, all interfered with nicely by the Joker (Mark Hamil). Again, listen to the music, very dramatic, with synthesiser played by a young Hans Zimmer, later to provide the music for all Chris Nolan's Dark Knight films).
All together excellent value for money.
on 2 June 2012
"Mystery of the Batwoman" and "Mask of the Phantasm" are based on the 1990s animated series and feature Kevin Conroy as Batman. "Under the Red Hood" (the best film in this collection) features Bruce Greenwood as Batman, Supernatural's Jensen Ackles and Neil Patrick Harris. Batman: Year One features Bryan Cranston as Gordon, who actually gets more focus that Batman. "Batman: Gotham Knight" is the strangest film in the collection, featuring a Manga-style animation.
on 23 May 2013
A great collection of animated Batman titles, from the vintage 90s cartoon to the adaptations of classic comic storylines. This is probably the best place to get these, Mask of Phantasm has always been a favorite of mine ever since I was a kid, and it still holds surprisingly well just like the old 90's series. The rest were also great except for Mystery of The Batwoman, which felt too childish compared to the others which were more dark.
Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman. The plot revolves around a new crimefighter, the Batwoman, who seems to be personally involved, for whatever reason in stopping a major arms shipment. Mystery of the Batwoman isn't bad. But it isn't good either. It feels like an episode that goes on for far too long, and while the mystery is pretty clever, there's something missing from it. The biggest problem is the characterization of Batman. Far too much time is spent on Bruce Wayne, and even Batman has a habit of acting more like "Bruce" when he has the mask on.
Batman: Mask of Phantasm. This story tells of a character, not ever quite named but called here as 'Phantasm', who is killing off some of the high-rolling gangsters in town. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne meets an old love of his Andrea, and old wounds are opened over a brief and untimely ended engagement. To make things even more complicated The Joker appears who supplies a hugely entertaining climax, one which involves a big fight among an immense diorama of Gotham City, rigged with explosives! The movie has great artwork, solid characterization, a very intriguing mystery storyline all backed by a thundering and magnificent score. My personal favorite and one of the best animated features of all time.
Batman: Under the Red Hood. Five years after the tragic death of Jason Todd, the second Robin, at the hands of the psychotic Joker, Batman finds himself in the midst of a war between the criminal lord Black Mask and the mysterious Red Hood, who seems to know Batman all to well. Helping the dark knight in his quest to stop this madness is none other than Dick Grayson a.k.a.Knightwing. Under the Red Hood is a great movie. Comic book Lovers as well as casual fans will be satisfied when they watch it. This is one of those transcendent movies that becomes more than a good animated film, it was very entertaining and Batman fans will love it.
Batman: Gotham Knight. This is a collection of 6 animated Batman stories (in Anime style) aimed to fill the gap between Nolan's Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Each story is directed by different people but unlike Animatrix (WB's first animated filler compilation, done for the Matrix series), the look and feel of every episode is too similar to actually distinguish. The mood is more dark, violent and brooding than any other screen Batman interpretations. This will depend on whether you liked the style of Animatrix as it's more of a compilation. It was pretty good but some stories were uneven and the appeal was lost.
Batman: Year One. Year One presents itself as an adaptation of Frank Miller's comic book series of the same name. It tells the stories of a young Bruce Wayne's return to Gotham and debut as Batman, as well as Jim Gordon's transfer to Gotham and growing stance against corrupt cops and organized crime. I'm a huge fan of this comic so I really ended up enjoying this great take on the series. The animation was excellent and really helped to show the storyline, it was not over done so that the characters were completing impossible feats that were obviously cartoonish, instead it was really realistic. All in all, the best animated Batman next to Mask of the Phantasm, but that's just my opinion.
The special features for each discs were basically the same with DC showcases, trailers for other DC super hero animated films and behind the scenes. This is a great collection of movies and i hope there is another box set released like this soon with other Batman titles.
on 8 August 2012
First off, I'd like to say how glad I am that this box set is available; if you have just started getting into Batman animation then this is a SUPERB starter pack! I have been collecting Batman animation for a few years now and I was delighted to buy this collection; if nothing else, to compact my DVD collection and shave up some space on the shelves. All of the discs (bar one) contain the same extras as the solo DVDs.
For the fans - If I could change anything about this box set it would be to take `Batman Under the Red Hood' (which I should explain, is my favourite of all the batman animation films) and swap it for `Batman and Mr Freeze (Subzero)' as I think it would be a better fit with the rest of the films in this collection. `Batman Under the Red Hood' should have been saved for a collection with `Superman / Shazam! (The Return of Black Adam)' and perhaps (??) `Superman Batman Public Enemies' and `Superman Batman Apocalypse'. This, I think, would have made much more sense. Also the `Under the Red Hood' DVD [link below] that I already own comes as a two disc set. Disc one contains an exclusive short `Jonah Hex'; which I utterly adore. Disc two has both, `Robin: The Story of Dick Grayson' and `Bruce Timm Presents 2 Batman animated Series Episodes'; this is too much to lose in my opinion.
So, it would seem that I have not actually shaved as much space off my DVD shelves as I'd like and in fact, now I have a duplicate which drives my OCD into a twine, wound so tight both my shoulder blades feel like they are touching at the back!! Not to worry...perfection is sometimes better in the wanting, wishing and imaginary designing - yeah, whatever!!
Batman: Under the Red Hood [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
on 20 January 2013
I recently bought this due to being a big fan of the Batman Animated Series, nostalgia is wonderful thing, and I always try to make time for any animated outing of the franchise and this 5 movie collection is a great set for such a price. Admittedly Mask Of The Phantasm is my favourite of all of them, mainly because it ties into the chronology of the Animated Series. But that's not to take away from the others. While I'm aware of many parts of the Batman history, I've not read the comics. So having films such as Year One and Under The Red Hood really help to shed light on these stories is really fun and engaging way. (They were also far darker than I expected they would be, which is a welcome plus.)
For those three films alone the price of this boxset, at the time of writing is £10, is a bargain! If you're a fan of Batman it's well worth having this boxet in your collection. (Admittedly I've not watched the other two films yet, which I why I can't comment on them.)
on 3 August 2012
As a relative new Bat-fan (joining in at Batman Begins), I've been looking for Batman comics and films where ever I find them. And after I saw "Under The Hood" I understood that the animated films was a must see. So when I found out this box existed I threw my self over it, and loved every minute!
Year One and Under the Hood is amazing! And the Mask of the Phantasm is a classic that actually lives up to the hype. Mystery of the Batwoman is the weakest, but it's still good. And Gotham Knight is the one I haven't seen yet, but it looks cool!
If you like Batman and want more of him this is perfect! The films are true Batman, as he always was to be shown!
on 27 August 2015
A brilliant collection of some of the best animated movies dealing with Batman, THE DARK KNIGHT. While it's true that I had seen both the 'Phantasm', 'Batwoman' , and the 'Red Hood' movies previously, it helped to find all of them in such an economical package, combined with the 'Year One' (hardly, it was just a frame-by-frame compilation of the Frank Miller classic) and the beautifully atmospheric 'Gotham Knight'. Loved them all, loved especially the package deal.