In Batman: Gotham by Gaslight it’s Jack the Ripper vs. the world’s greatest detective in a battle of wits and strength. Gotham by Gaslight relies heavily on making sure its audience is questioning the identity of Jack the Ripper until the climax of the film. The animation in the film is mediocre at best, but at least the storytelling is good.
Gotham by Gaslight tells a different tale of the iconic DC Comic characters set in the late 1800s. The film opens with Jack the Ripper butchering a woman (as he does) immediately setting the gruesome tone that follows the film to its conclusion. Batman sets out to find and apprehend the villain with the unexpected aid of Selina Kyle, AKA Catwoman.
Throughout the film, fans of the DC Universe will recognize classic denizens of Gotham like Dr. Hugo Strange, Harvey Dent, and Commissioner Gordon. Most of these characters have different traits assigned to them which adds a refreshing step back from telling the same story that they are known for. A treat Gotham by Gaslight gives us is a trio of homeless boys all with the names of the various Robins that have existed in the DC Universe. They do not appear frequently in the film, but it was enjoyable to watch them whenever they were on-screen.
For feminist viewers, Selina Kyle will carry the film for you. While women’s suffrage only comes up once in the film in a joke, Selina Kyle is certainly a suffragette. Rarely does a superhero film have a female character assert herself and speak out against the inequalities of the world she lives in quite like this movie’s Catwoman. From Selina’s first scene, she is advocating for the lower class women in the film who have met gruesome ends thanks to Jack the Ripper. While she is portrayed as a performer whom men drool over, she makes it clear that she’s “nobody’s pet.”
For a film that wrote this version of Catwoman, they certainly liked to butcher women. Many of the murder scenes in the film have you listening to a woman being violently stabbed to death. While Gotham by Gaslight is an animated film, to listen to someone be murdered is still grotesque.
In addition, I understand that the writers were trying to portray Jack the Ripper as truthfully as possible by having him murder a bunch of women, but the film established itself as being loose with the historical accuracy (Gotham looks like it is set in the UK but almost every character has an American accent). Why couldn’t more men be portrayed as helpless victims?
The animation itself is not anything to scream about either. There is one shot of Selina speaking that just looks completely wrong. I do not know if it was because I was watching the Blu-ray version of the film, or if the animators were working with a short schedule that I was able to see the inaccuracies in the animation.
Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is an entertaining thriller that comic book fans can enjoy. While the animation can be sloppy at times, the characters and voice over work make up for most of it.