(Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this article. The opinions I share are my own)
WARNING! SPOILERS WITHIN! WARNING!
The Justice League: Gods And Monsters (2015) animated movie is kind of a pseudo-Elseworld story, but this one I’m reviewing here is an official adaptation of one of DC Comic’s Elseworld tale, the first one ever written actually, and I thought it was pretty stellar!
If you’re not familiar with the “Elseworld” term, best to think of this movie, and others like it that’ll eventually come along, as alternate realities, or parallel universes to the events and characters we already know in the DC universe. Marvel had a similar line of comics, but they called theirs ‘What If . . .’
Gotham By Gaslight takes place in Gotham City, but a Gotham in an alternate Victorian Era reality that has Batman taking on Jack The Ripper! All the usual suspects from Gotham are here, Bruce Wayne is still a millionaire playboy hunting bad guys as the Batman at night; Harvey Dent is still a lawyer and Wayne’s friend; James Gordon is still Commissioner; Arkham Asylum still exists and Hugo Strange still works there, but Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman) does not don any kind of catsuit and skulk the night fantastic. Here she is a stage performer/singer, yet still retains the same personality. She takes no shit, especially from men; can fight, and uses a bullwhip as her preferred weapon. Poison Ivy is also in this world, but she’s a stripper, opium addict and hooker, and ends up being Jack’s first victim in the opening of the movie.
Alfred is still Batman’s confidant and butler, but Bruce’s batcave does not exist, his secret lair is in the attic, and there’s a slight steampunk-vibe with him. There’d have to be seeing as his specialty is gadgets of all kind.
Jack has been killing for a while now and Batman has been prowling the night in his Victorian era batgarb to try and catch him. Batman’s fighting skill is very much of the era too, but he can still throw a mean martial art kick from time-to-time. His first confrontation with Jack also involves his first meeting with Selina as she’s targeted by the killer one night, but the both of them give Jack a run for his money in the fisticuffs department. Batman learns Jack as got some fighting skill, pretty much equal to his. Jack’s killings are soft-R rated material. We see blood, plunging knives; hear death rattles, but no explicit steel cutting or penetrating flesh, and there’s mild swearing.
Eventually Jack frames Bruce and he’s thrown in jail. Now who I had pegged as the Ripper was Harvey Dent, which made a kind of sense to me. He’s Two-Face in the “normal Batman world,” but if it’s not him directly, maybe, he has a twin brother who’s the killer. I was wrong and I was actually shocked when they revealed the Ripper was James Gordon! I caught on the moment Batman shows up at his home in the final act and discovers a secret room. Closer inspection in this room reveals jars of organs and a wife who knew what he was and why he was doing it.
Loved the animation too!
You can always tell when the makers of these movies create one they really like, for they end up doing a commentary for them. It’s revealed in the closing moments of this commentary they have ideas for a sequel, but that only depends on how well this movie sells. I would love to see more steampunk Batman fighting crime in Victorian Gotham!
Video/Audio/Subtitles (4K Ultra HD): 2160p 1.78:1 ultra high definition widescreen—5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio, 5.1 French Dolby Digital, 5.1 German Dolby Digital, 5.1 Italian Dolby Digital, 5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital, 5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital, 5.1 Portuguese Dolby Digital —English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Korean, Norwegian, and Swedish subs
Video/Audio/Subtitles (Blu-ray): 1080p 1.78:1 high definition widescreen—5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio, 5.1 French Dolby Digital, 5.1 German Dolby Digital, 5.1 Italian Dolby Digital, 5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital, 5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital, 5.1 Portuguese Dolby Digital —English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Korean, Norwegian, and Swedish subs
Extras Included On Blu-Ray Disc Only . . .
- Audio Commentary With Executive Producer Bruce Timm, Writer Jim Krieg and Director Sam Liu (Blu-ray Exclusive)
- Caped Fear: The First Elseworld (20:45) (Blu-ray Exclusive)
- 2 Bonus Cartoons (Batman: The Brave & The Bold “Trials Of The Demon!”/Batman: The Animated Series, “Showdown”) (Blu-ray Exclusive)
- A Sneak Peek At DC Universe’s Next Animated Movie: Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay (8:33)