Thursday, 16 October 2014

Gotham Pilot Review: If David Fincher Made Cop Dramas

Warning: Spoilers!

First of all I’m not a huge Batman fan. I felt only the last two of the Christopher Nolan films were mildly entertaining because of the villains and the Christian Bale incarnation was very wooden. However I have enjoyed past incarnations of Batman, namely the animated series, and one thing I’ve been hoping for, for a long time, is a dramatisation of the life of Bruce Wayne before he became the Dark Knight. Something which certainly worked in Smallville (Superman) but even more so with Batman in my opinion.

And since Gotham is the closest we’re going to get with this idea, I’ve decided to review the series, episode by episode, so expect a regular Gotham blog every week.

With all that said and done, lets dive into the pilot episode.

Our story opens with a young Catwoman (Carmen Bicondova) witnessing the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents, Thomas and Martha. Then we cut to our hero Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) exhibiting himself as the only straight cop in a thoroughly corrupted force before being assigned the Wayne case. 

Gordon, under the leadership of Detective HarveyBullock (Donal Logue) visits the murder scene and confides in young Bruce (David Mazouz) telling him he can relate to the loss of his parents. Gordon then swears to Bruce to find the killer and we then see an 80s style montage of Bullock and Gordon interviewing witnesses.

Through a series of leads, Bullock is led to mobstress Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) and her right hand Oswald Copplebot aka The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor). Through them they find and kill the suspected killer and are hailed as heroes before a snitch reveals that the whole case was a set up. The revelation leads to Gordon receiving upset questions from his fiancé Barbara Kean (Erin Richards).

Desperate to clear his name, Gordon seeks out the family of the suspect, whose daughter will grow up to become the infamous Posion Ivy, and eventually discovers the true culprit behind the Wayne murder – revealing the in depth corruption within the Gotham PD including his accomplice, Bullock.
The episode ends with Gordon promising to rebuild the police force from within and to overthrow the corrupt powers who murdered the Waynes.

Overall, I felt what made this episode worth watching was how it depicted the development of the Penguin. As Bruce Wayne is only a recurring character here, I felt the villains are whom the keen Batman fans should look out for as this is their story. 

Compared to other Batman incarnations, the opening did appear reminiscent to the Tim Burton film, but I felt on more than one occasion I was watching a David Fincher movie. The lighting and dialogue reminded me of Seven, and McKenzie’s strong resemblance to Edward Norton made me think of Fight Club. Gotham is what you’d get if Fincher went into television and made cop series instead of his neo-noir masterpieces. 
I do feel satisfied in watching this show again because they depicted the origins of the Penguin very well and I look forward to whom the next episode focuses on.

Though to nit-pick on things I felt were of poor taste, I didn’t understand why there were several semi-naked strippers getting dressed in the background of the scene in Mooney’s club. The club was completely empty apart from Bullock and Mooney, so why did we need a classic example of ‘women as background objects?’

Secondly I felt the depiction of domestic violence on Poison Ivy’s mother was a little too exaggerated by how over the top the bruising on her face was. You don’t need to have big gratuitous injuries to talk about violence against women, perhaps a little more subtlety should be employed. You don’t need to show such harsh and upsetting wounds to reflect how harsh and violent domestic abuse can be so there I think is some room for improvement.

But overall it’s a pretty good take on a Batman incarnation without the Dark Knight.

Bechdel Result: Fail.

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