And now for a Movie Sleuth review of the Gotham pilot!
|"Where's the trigger, Cobblepot?|
WHERE'S THE TRIGGER?!!"
I look at Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy as something entirely its own. It doesn't share very much in common with the Batman universe I've grown to love through the comics and the brilliant video game, Arkham Asylum. Through its mere 45 minute running time, Gotham did more to scratch my comic itch than most of Nolan's work did. The very first thing I noticed about the show—and what coursed through the veins of the entire pilot—was the unabashed comic book vibe of the city and its locations. It pops with color, contrast, and life in a way that feels copied and pasted from the pages of a Batman prequel comic that never existed. Gotham City itself is rendered with a modern neon energy, but infused with classical noir designs and lighting, giving it a very distinct tone. It doesn't quite layer on the fog and grim of what Batman comic fans are used to, but you can tell that this is a city that is intended to deconstruct through the progression (or digression) of the series while staying true to the stylized roots of the books.
Gotham sets off with a bit of a cheap introduction to both Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon, however. Each intro feels both lazy and rushed. Spoiler, Bruce's parents die. The direction and setup here feels tacked on. I imagine the producers just needed to get it out of the way because of the story's familiarity with almost the entire planet. It doesn't make this scene any less important to the world of Gotham City. In fact, one might argue it is the single most pivotal piece in the universe. The death of the Wayne's here doesn't feel as powerful or as dark as it should. I didn't buy it. Its impact was nerfed.
|"I will personally shoot both |
you and that
stupid butler if you
don't become Batman and save
all of us. Deal, Batsy Pants?"
If all goes well, Robin Lord Taylor will be a name on the tip of everyone's tongue in the near future. He damn near steals the entire show with his disturbingly weird performance as Oswald Cobblepot, better known as The Penguin. There is no doubt he has injected the character with a slimy, impassioned energy that has potential to be one of the best casted villains in the live-action DC universe. Yes, I have the balls to say that he has the talent to match or dethrone even Ledger.
The other cast members, though not as exceptional, range from good to very good and I really couldn't ask for more. It would be hard for any actor of David Mazouz's age to deliver a powerful performance required of young Bruce Wayne. While he didn't astound me after the death scene, a later scene had me eerily entranced by his cold, ruined eyes. I totally believe this kid—this child—could be Batman. I deeply believed it. I know it's not Batman's show, but I believe the creators can get some potent stuff from Mazouz and the Bruce Wayne character if they wanted to.
|"If I crap in this huge |
jacket I wonder if it
will keep me warm?"
Typically, these kinds of things get inundated with shoehorned cameos that rip the focus away from the juice of the story. I was pleasantly surprised that this didn't happen with how many name drops, winks, and nods peppered the plot. In fact, all of these elements fit the plot, never detracted, and made for excellent seeds to sprout later in the series. I'd love to go on about every character and cameo, but I would ruin a lot of the surprises.
What it all comes down to, really, though, is Ben McKenzie as Jim Gordon. I believe Jim Gordon is a deceptively tough character to get right as an actor because Batman villains (and even Bruce Wayne himself) have so much gnarly meat to chew on. Gordon does not. He's as straight-laced and as good as they come. There aren't many quirks or hooks to latch on to. McKenzie, I think, is making all the right moves for a young Gordon. There is a point in the story where he is demanded for the truth. This one and only time in the narrative his morality comes into direct question and I could plainly see it in McKenzie's face. You'll have to see it to know why I think it's important to mention. This is going to be tough for McKenzie because both his performance and the writing could, if not tactful, become eclipsed by the cast of more vivid characters.
| "Don't ask me where |
the trigger is.
You certainly haven't
found the one in
these pants yet."
I just have one very big request. Please, if you're going to ever put Joker in this, do not—and I mean do not—insult the legacy of arguably the greatest comic book villain in existence with an origin story. His entire lack of one is the point.
Now keep doing what you're doing—only, ya know, more dark and stuff.