Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is a classic graphic novel written by Brian Augustyn and drawn by Mike Mignola. The novel focuses on Batman who is trying to stop the murder spree of Jack the Ripper in Victorian-era Gotham City. Warner Brothers Animation and DC Comics adapted this entertaining story in 2018 as an animated movie. Bruce Greenwood returns as Batman with Sam Liu handling the directing duties yet again for another DC animated film. The final result is a boring, loose adaptation that does not feature any thrills like the original novel.
Jack the Ripper is wreaking havoc in the streets of Gotham. The film begins with the Ripper carving up a prostitute in a dark alley who happens to be Poison Ivy. Poison Ivy is not included in the graphic novel. This appearance of her is a wasted cameo that is not needed. Batman is on the Ripper’s trail, but he arrives too late to save Ivy. Batman is inexperienced in the movie as it is easy to tell that Bruce has not been a vigilante for long.
In the first act, the film introduces several characters into the movie that were not in the graphic novel. Poison Ivy, Doctor Hugo Strange, the three Robins, Selina Kyle, and Harvey Bullock all make appearances. Characters from the graphic novel that are included in the movie are Bruce Wayne/Batman, Jim Gordon, and Alfred. The movie is missing one significant character that is important to the plot of the novel. The character is Jacob Packer who turned out to be the Ripper in the comic.
Selina Kyle and Jim Gordon are the intriguing characters with the best story arcs. Kyle is a wealthy businesswoman who runs a popular dance show in Gotham. The Ripper tries to make her a victim in the film. She shows that she is fierce and unafraid of the Ripper’s deadly game. In their fight scene, Kyle is a fantastic fighter which audiences know is not a surprise. However, the surprise is that the Ripper is an expert hand-to-hand combatant. The surprise does give away who the villain is if viewers are paying attention. Gordon is a mysterious inspector for the Gotham police who seems to be hiding something. Gordon is hellbent on catching the Ripper. The film’s version of Gordon is a man who is untrustworthy. Gordon plays a pivotal role in the Ripper reveal scene that is nowhere near as satisfying as the graphic novel.
The adaptation is decent. It is not as bad as the adaptation of Batman: The Killing Joke. The character details for Gordon and Kyle are what keeps this movie somewhat entertaining. This movie is the 26th film that I have added to my movies for pluviophiles list on Letterboxd. Final rating: 2.5/5.