New to 4K, BATMAN YEAR ONE Spotlights the Origin of a New Hero in Gotham: Jim Gordon

New “Commemorative Edition” brings the Frank Miller adaptation to 4K UHD

Batman: Year One (2011) celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year, and to mark the occasion Warner Brothers is offering up a new 4K UHD “Commemorative Edition”.

Adapting one of Frank Miller’s most celebrated graphic novels, the film tracks the rise of not only the Batman during his first year, but that of one of his greatest allies as well.

The title may say “Batman”, but Year One is first and foremost the story of a young Jim Gordon (Bryan Cranston). New in Gotham (and not yet carrying the title of “Commissioner”), Gordon narrates his internal struggle of acclimating to his new challenge. He strives to remain an honest cop while surrounded by a totally unscrupulous police force, and wrestles with guilt from not being physically and emotionally available for his pregnant wife.

The appearance of a new vigilante adds an additional layer to Gordon’s troubles, but the contrast of the Batman — an earnest masked hero — and the corruption of his own police allies gives him pause.

At just an hour long (1:04:08 all told with credits), this is a very short movie, but despite the exceptionally lean runtime, it doesn’t feel skimpy or less than a complete story. The film sets the groundwork for one of comics’ greatest friendships, and is a terrific “origin story” that sidesteps the conventional and well known telling of Batman’s origin. Of course we all know where this is heading, but getting to see these two characters working for the same goals, wanting them to become allies, is a genuine pleasure.

The Package

The new edition includes a 4K movie disc, standard Blu-ray disc (with movie and bonus features), and Movies Anywhere digital version. My copy came with a handsome metallic slipcover.

The standard Blu-ray disc is not merely a rehash of the earlier release, but a newly authored version with matching menu art and updated content.

In full disclosure, I was actually unable to play my 4K disc in my Xbox One. I watched the 4K version of the film via iTunes using the included digital copy. As I’ve seen no other reports like this come to surface, this seems to be an isolated incident with a defective copy, or possibly even my equipment.

That said, even via digital streaming it looked really solid and an improvement – I noticed no weird macroblocking or similar artifiacts, occasionally evident on the Blu-ray.

Special Features (Blu-ray Disc):

DC Showcase Short: Catwoman (14:50)
I really dug this; Selina Kyle is always a complex character who blurs the line between villain and hero — I love exploring her more heroic side, and that’s the focus here as we watch Catwoman track and dismantle a kidnapping ring. Definitely not one for the kids; a significant portion of this short takes place in a strip club.

Reinventing Gordon (21:58)
Tracking the history and development of Jim Gordon as a supporting character of increasing importance and depth; features interview not only with DC creators but actors who have played the role as well.

A Conversation with DC Comics (39:27)
DC Creators roundtable on Batman: Year One. (Sadly, no Frank Miller)

Commentary by Alan Burnett

Heart of Vengeance: Returning Batman to His Roots (23:25)
The Comics Code and 60s TV Series turned Batman into a sillier, more kid-friendly property. DC creators describe how in both comics and films, the works of Frank Miller and others turned the corner and out the dark back into The Dark Knight.

“Sneaks Peeks”
Extended previews of recent DC Animation Batman films Soul of the Dragon (11:56), The Long Halloween Part One (10:29), and The Long Halloween Part Two (9:10).

A/V Out.

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Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.

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