Gotham by Gaslight takes place in the 19th Century and the city is plagued by a killer named Jack the Ripper. Bruce Wayne (Bruce Greenwood, Star Trek, Thirteen Days) has recently returned from a trip around Europe and upon coming back to his home city, he has taken to the streets as the masked vigilante Batman. As Jack's crimes start to grow, Batman puts his detective skills to the test in the hopes of tracking down the killer before he can claim any more victims. Unfortunately, after several encounters with the man, Batman quickly realizes that the killer is a skilled fighter and he is a danger to more than just the women of the night. What's worse is that suspicion of the crimes starts to fall on Bruce himself and given Wayne's frequent outings, he finds his alibis for the murders severely lacking.
Batman's case will have him working alongside Commissioner Gordon (Scott Patterson, Gilmore Girls, Saw IV) as well as singer Selina Kyle (Jennifer Carpenter, Dexter, The Exorcism of Emily Rose), a woman that seems to be more than her stage life would appear. When not in the costume, Bruce will also spend a lot of time with his lifelong friend Harvey Dent (Yuri Lowenthal), but when suspicion falls on Bruce, even Dent's opinion of Wayne will falter.
Of course, Batman isn't alone in his endeavors. Bruce's faithful butler Alfred (Anthony Head, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) will help him wherever possible, and Alfred also ends up hiring some extra hands in the way of three street urchins by the name of Dickie, Jason and Tim.
There are a few other names dropped in this movie that fans of the caped crusader will enjoy hearing referenced, but many of these are there to add a more Batman-like vibe to the overall setting. Not that a Victorian Era London-esque Gotham doesn't feel right, but populating the city with even more known characters only helps to add to the feel of the film.
Gotham by Gaslight comes with two episodes of Batman cartoons. "Showdown" from the Batman: The Animated Series has Ra's al Ghul telling Batman and Robin a story of events that take place during the Old West, which is only related to this movie because they both take place in the 19th century. The other cartoon, Batman: The Brave and the Bold's "Trials of the Demon!" is more relevant since it has Batman summoned through time to join forces with Sherlock Holmes in order to solve a mystery. There is even a point where Batman dons a costume that is similar to the one from the comic.
As is often the case for DC Animated films, this release also comes with a sneak peek of the next movie. This time that extra is for Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay featuring Christian Slater as Deadshot. There are also sneak peeks of older releases: one for Justice League Dark and one for Batman: Bad Blood, both of which we've reviewed and their links can be found below.
While those extras are nice, the centerpiece of the special features menu is the featurette about the comic that this animated movie is based on and the effects that initial story has had on DC Comics. "Caped Fear: The First Elseworld," talks about how the story was developed, how the artist was chosen and how it allowed the publisher to explore a wide variety of other creative ideas. This featurette also talks about taking that story, plus its sequel, "Masters of the Future," and blending them into a longer movie, plus changing who the killer is so that even those that know the original comic will have something new to enjoy.
While I enjoyed the story, what I found to be the most disappointing aspect of Gotham by Gaslight was its 4K treatment. I've found that many 2D animated films generate a lot of artifacts when I view them on devices that try to upscale them to 4K and, this being the first non-CG animated feature to come on a 4K disc that I've had the chance to watch, I had hoped I would not see those artifacts. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Like with other cartoons, when the only real movement on the screen is mouths or a person walking, the broken, ghosting effects are very prominent. This isn't a problem on live-action or even CG films I've watched in 4K, so I don't believe it is my setup. In the end, these issues force me to not recommend the 4K version of this film and suggest that those interested in buying Batman: Gotham by Gaslight pick up the cheaper Blu-ray version instead.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a copy of the 4K Blu-ray. The opinions I share are my own.