Movie Review: Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham

Directed by Christopher Berkeley & Sam Liu and written by Jase Ricci, Mike Mignola & Richard Pace.
Starring David Giuntoli as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Christopher Gorham as Oliver Queen, Brian George as Alfred, Jeffrey Combs as Kirk Langstrom, and Patrick Fabian as Harvey Dent.
Review by Max Byrne

Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham is the 48th animated feature film from the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line.

Available now, on Blu-Ray and DVD and as a digital download.

Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham

Returning from a decade-long voyage of discovery, Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City, where his parents fell victim to the knife of a madman 20 years earlier. On his travels, Bruce has taken on an international trio of orphaned street kids.

During a deadly Arctic encounter, the Penguin informs Bruce that a doomsday cult is planning Gotham’s destruction. Bruce must now return home and take on the mantle of Batman. However, when this man of science discovers he faces not criminals and crazies but actual ancient magic, fiery demons, and inter-dimensional Old Gods, can he retain his sanity?

Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham continues the extremely high standard set by the recent hot streak that DC Comics’ animated movie division has been on. Adapting a well-loved, classic tale from the Batman annals is always a duel-edged sword, as the pros of having a built-in, ready audience can sometimes be outweighed by the cons of that audience scrutinizing the adaptation at every turn, with editorial choices sometimes not sitting well with the fanbase.

In my opinion, there are no such issues here, as the script by Jase Ricci, Richard Pace, and the great Mike Mignola does a marvelous job of adapting Mignola’s own source material whilst making enough key changes to give the movie its own identity.

Changing the gender and ethnicity of some of the principal characters might be a divisive move for some, but I feel that it works within this context. This is a Bruce Wayne that has traveled the globe for many years, visiting different cultures and learning about the world. Having two of his protegees be from more exotic reaches than Gotham City really works here, the reinventions of Cassandra Cain and Jason Todd add a rich texture to the proceedings.

As with all the best Elseworlds tales, having well-loved DC characters re-imagined into a new time period is a highly effective storytelling device, as they can step away from the mainstream continuity and exhibit character traits that are a little bit different from what we’ve seen before.

This is where the voice cast really comes into their own. David Giuntoli is a taciturn, stoic Dark Knight. Showcasing a heady mix of gravitas and charisma, his Batman aurally commands the screen and feels incredibly authentic. Brian George as Alfred could easily jump into the reels of Batman: The Animated Series, such is his deadpan delivery laced with the heavy burden of a man that wants a better life for his surrogate son.

My personal favorite is Christopher Gorham’s Oliver Queen. This version of the character jumps from a drunken rich boy to a crusading knight, determined to stand against the monstrous evil that is ominously coming to Gotham. Trapped by the sins of his father, which is a constant theme throughout this film, Gorham’s portrayal of Queen demands real versatility and talent, which he brings to the table in spades.

The animation is magnificent throughout and the fight scenes in particular are quite stunning. This is a testament to the direction of Berkeley and Liu, as they show they can choreograph an action scene akin to anything that you would see in a John Wick movie.

Characters move with an acrobatic grace across the screen, this is a truly vicious and violent ballet. Seeing DC legends face off with Lovecraftian nightmares is a feast for the eyes indeed. Every blow is felt, as they land with real resonance and bone-breaking impact. Rather than trying to emulate the arch, stylized artwork of the source material, the creative team here concentrates on providing gruesome imagery amidst colors that jump off the screen.

The score from Stefan L. Smith is simply wonderful. Moments that are beyond grandiose mix well with more intimate, character-driven beats to form the perfect musical companion to the film. At one point, I could have sworn I heard elements of Elfman’s classic Batman score too, such is the level of authenticity on offer. The powers that be at DC Studios would be well served to use Smith in their future live-action projects.

Conclusion

Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham is top-tier DC animation. A great adaptation of a classic text, it forges its own path through subtle changes to the plot that all work really well. Strictly adult fare, it’s a film that mature DC fans will find plenty to invest in and is certainly a high point in the DC animated catalog.

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