Batman: Gotham by Gaslight 4K UHD Blu-ray Review

Gotham by Fan Service

At the midpoint of Gotham by Gaslight, Bruce Wayne and Sister Leslie – the nun who raised Wayne in this alternate lore – stand inside a “World’s Fair,” Wayne’s multi-million dollar expo. The nun scrapes by to care for the underprivileged, orphans and battered women. The blind cruelty of industrialism and capitalism, as delivered through Batman.

The R-rating attached to Gotham by Gaslight is a pale one. A handful of expletives and mild blood splatter barely earn the rating. It’s more of a marketing mark-up than fair judge of content. If anything, the cruelty is more on Wayne’s obliviousness to wealth inequality. He beats people up, but he’s a sour hero.

A touch of salaciousness is inherent. Mentions of suffrage and cultural sexism embed into the story through Selina Kyle, one of numerous Batman regulars stuffed into the story for ancillary purposes. Overnight romances and burlesque shows add a touch of titillation, if nothing potent. Again, that R-rating lingers, but the essence of Gotham by Gaslight doesn’t warrant the 18+ sticker.

Replace 1800s Gotham with 2000s Gotham and they pair equally, minus some fog

Gotham by Gaslight concerns Jack the Ripper, slaughtering women in a Victorian edition of Gotham. This makes for a killer tagline – Batman vs Jack the Ripper, if adding little to the overall concept. Replace 1800s Gotham with 2000s Gotham and they pair equally, minus some fog. An American flag sits atop a building to separate the continents visually. Batman still has a Batcycle in this era of carriages, he uses a grappling hook to get around, and he battles pedestrian villains. Years matter not.

Creatively, Gotham by Gaslight features a fantastic score. It gives a powerful backdrop to this DTV feature. Animation uses the setting more so than the narrative. Shadows hide what they must and the London-but-not-London sights look persistently burning by way of lighting. With only rare dashes of color, Gotham by Gaslight keeps things moody and seedy. Even considering lapses in animation, this is easily one of DC’s distinctive visual works.

Still, what this amounts to is a routine Batman story, with a touch of detective work, police department in-fighting, and a collection of familiar named characters. Most end up wasted; Poison Ivy is introduced then dispatched as the Ripper’s first victim. Why bother aside from arbitrary fan service? Concurrently, that sums up Gotham by Gaslight.

Video (4K UHD)

While the animation itself doesn’t push toward any significant resolution, the benefits of UHD come entirely from HDR. Gotham by Gaslight feeds on shadows. The depth of black levels add superb dimension to this 2D animated feature. Clear separation between black outlines and black suits nicely offer a glimpse at UHD’s capabilities.

Luckily, contrast isn’t lost by design. Bouts of high-energy brightness feed off the plethora of fire, especially during a zeppelin crash and the finale. Both offer a slew of flames, feeding Gotham by Gaslight spectacular oomph. Blazing oranges break from the moody tones (as does an early scene at day with a grand blue skyline).

Pleasing texture in backgrounds is sufficient, if soft. Wood and brick stand out. Luckily, the lack of any compression keeps solid colors strong without interference. One touch of aliasing (on a rope hanging from the zeppelin) is the only notable oops.

Video (Blu-ray)

This is rather inexcusable, and an anomaly in the DC line. Compression runs rampant through this presentation, filling areas of listless shadows and even the solidly-colored animated with blocky digital remnants. The presentation struggles to shrug off the haze of problematic banding and chunky blocking.

These issues cause a loss of fidelity and put Gotham by Gaslight’s Blu-ray more in line with a shoddy streaming version. Sharpness is here and no major aliasing issues occur at least.

Audio

Both discs offer equal DTS-HD tracks, decent enough to match the on-screen action. Fight scenes pan around, whether tracking Kyle’s whip or Batman’s grappling hook. Fire spreads rapidly around the soundfield, and a handful of dialog cues slip into the surrounds for effect. Panning from vehicles like the Batcycle transition cleanly between channels. The same goes for carriages.

While LFE support runs slightly flat, punches accentuate when landing, and explosions produce a capable burst. Nothing stands out as powerful, but the assist is enough to make a point.

Extras

The trio of producer Bruce Timm, writer Jack Krieg, and director Sam Liu come together for a fine commentary. They laugh at some of their cliches while dissecting the story. Caped Fear runs 20-minutes, the lone featurette, peeking into the source graphic novel and how this feature came to be. Two TV episodes – one from Brave and the Bold, the other from The Animated Series – fill some space, as do three sneak peeks for upcoming DC animated offerings.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

  • Video (4K UHD)
  • Video (Blu-ray)
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

Gotham by Gaslight takes Batman into the Victorian age and then does nothing with the setting or the potential freedom of an R-rating.

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User Review
5 (1 vote)

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