Spoilers inhabit Victorian Gotham!
Welcome to the dark beating heart of London, in the murderous grip of everyone’s favorite madman, Jack the Ripper! Wait, what’d you say? We’re in Gotham, not London, and our beloved familiar characters are being terrorized by the Ripper, okay got it. Onward we go!
So poor orphan Pamela Isley (Kari Wuhrer), there really isn’t anyplace in Victorian Gotham for her to grow prehensile plants, and she’s managed to turn to exotic dancing and the selling of her person to make ends meet, which inevitably lands her as the Ripper’s latest victim. While Bruce Wayne (Bruce Greenwood) tries to use his vast fortune to do good works, his vigilantism as the Batman has a tendency to terrify both the innocent and the guilty alike. Selina Kyle (Jennifer Carpenter) is an actress and not anything else, thank you very much, and she clearly expresses her disdain for the ineffectiveness of the police department, and well, all the other men after the Ripper who still haven’t managed to catch him, too.
As one can imagine, this hardly goes down well with the boys club that is Gotham city hall, especially Police Chief Harvey “Bulldog” Bullock (John DiMaggio), everyone’s favorite mainstay Commissioner James Gordon (Scott Patterson), and even the ubiquitous attorney Harvey Dent (Yuri Lowenthal), who seems to think Selina will be his, whether she wants to be, or not.
And then there’s Jack the Ripper, the legend himself. Rifling through the entire catalogue of available Batman villains to find someone to toss a Ripper suit onto, is actually a fun mental exercise. What motivates Jack to kill again and again, but branch off from his traditional slaying of however-many street-walking women, into orphans and their caretakers, the poor turned criminal, the utter filth of society? The murder of Sister Leslie (hey, that’s a Gotham reference right there) (Grey DeLisle) that brings together everyone but simultaneously sets them against each-other is the real kicking-off point of the movie, and now, it’s off to Arkham.
Mention must be made at this point of the adorable trio of orphan pickpockets, and let me spell it out for you if it’s not clear already – the names Dickie (Lincoln Melcher), Jason (Grey DeLisle) and Timmy (Tara Strong) all nod to the original Robins – Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake, respectively. It really is a huge geek love moment, and the movie did it quite gracefully, I thought.
Pop goes Hugo Strange (William Salyers), a few fisticuffs thrown at the enemy across an airship later, and next thing we know, Bruce is in jail. Boy, justice works fast in Victorian Gotham. Not even Blackgate could hold Wayne for long though, and holy crap, check out the steampunk Batcycle, yall. But you’d better hurry, Selina’s on her way to confess your secret to the one person she has to be able to trust, in all this utter mess. Right? Who did you gamble Jack the Ripper would turn out to be?
The whole film is done in a Spartan noir manner, and the story is just a Batman-steampunk fans’ dream come true. Poor old Babs, Barbara Gordon (Kari Wuhrer), even makes a beleaguered appearance. Many well-loved faces make at least a brief appearance in the movie, but made over cutely in that Victorian manner you should all experience at least once.
Experience the dark beating heart of Batman Gotham by Gaslight on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD now!