Gotham: The Fifth and Final Season

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Action;
$24.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Erin Richards, Camren Bicondova, Cory Michael Smith, Morena Baccarin, Chris Chalk, Cameron Monaghan, Shane West.

Also available with
Gotham: The Complete Series
$99.99 DVD, $112.99 Blu-ray

The “Gotham” in this final batch of episodes is a far cry from the series that debuted in 2014.

In its early episodes, the show took on more of the feel of a traditional police procedural, focused on the early career of James Gordon (Ben McKenzie), who would eventually become the police commissioner of Gotham City in the Batman comics. His first case would be to investigate the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents. Gotham would also be plagued by mob violence, while versions of other Batman characters would appear as well as a nod to the comics.

This early approach didn’t catch on with viewers, as the show suffered from a bit of an identity crisis, as it wasn’t quite sure if it wanted to be a cop drama, a Batman origin story or a gritty crime saga. The richness of the Batman mythos was too tempting to leave on the table, so even the more absurd aspects of the comic books began to seep onto the show. Eventually, the series focused on what fans liked about the early episodes, and embraced the often bizarre and macabre nature of the various villains in Batman’s rogues gallery, evolving into a deliciously wacky pastiche of a typical comic book adaptation.

It’s as if the producers fused the dark noir of the Batman films with the campiness of the 1960s series to craft a truly unique spin on the character’s canon. There are certainly more than enough references to earlier Batman TV series and movies.

No comic book storylines were off limits, even if they didn’t necessarily fit the timeline from the comics. For example, in the comics, Bruce Wayne doesn’t learn about the conspiratorial Court of Owls until well after he becomes Batman, but they appeared on the show during the second season, when Bruce is just a kid, nudging him toward his eventual destiny.

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In the fifth season, the series was inspired by the “No Man’s Land” storyline, in which a series of disasters isolates Gotham from the rest of the country, forcing its remaining citizens into a sort of post-apocalyptic gang society (elements of the storyline also inspired The Dark Knight Rises). As the various characters continue to push toward their eventual destinies in the comic books, with some eccentric detours, of course, the show also introduces its version of Bane (Shane West), who arrives pre-mask as an old Army buddy of Gordon who arrives to help restore order to the city.

In the end, the series is an interesting take on the Batman mythology, which some fans may enjoy for its embrace of the spirit of the characters, while others might find it deviates too much from the canon they’re used to in the comics.

The fifth season Blu-ray includes a number of interesting featurettes in addition to the final 12 episodes. There are six minutes of deleted scenes and several featurettes.

Most relevant to the show is the 16-minute “Modern Mythology” featurette, in which the cast and producers look back on the show and how it put the pieces in place to move Bruce Wayne toward becoming Batman.

There’s also a one-minute promotional featurette called “Gotham’s Last Stand,” and a highlight reel from the show’s panel at the 2018 New York Comic Con, which turns out to be surprisingly spoiler-heavy considering it took place before the final season aired.

More interesting is a 38-minute featurette called “Villains: Modes of Persuasion,” a documentary about the mindset and psychology of comic book villains in general, with a particular focus on the villains from various DC Comics inspired TV series such as “Gotham,” “Arrow” and “Supergirl.” It’s a blatant cross-promotional tool, but an effective one.

Reign of the Supermen

Completing the adaptation of the classic 1990s “Death of Superman” comic books, Reign of the Supermen pays off the storyline began in last year’s The Death of Superman with some solid action sequences and some nice character moments that will be appreciated by fans of the DC Universe animated movies.

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 1/29/19;
Warner;
Animated;
$24.98 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of action violence.
Voices of Jerry O’Connell, Rebecca Romijn, Rainn Wilson, Cress Williams, Cameron Monaghan, Patrick Fabian, Tony Todd, Charles Halford, Jason O’Mara, Rosario Dawson, Shemar Moore, Nathan Fillion, Christopher Gorham, Nyambi Nyambi.

As the second part of a two-film event, Reign of the Supermen provides a worthy conclusion to the storyline set up in last year’s The Death of Superman.

Six months after Superman seemingly died stopping an alien monster from destroying Metropolis, four new heroes have arrived in the city to claim the legacy of the Man of Steel. And since Superman’s body disappeared from his tomb, there’s some discussion in the media as to whether one of these new heroes actually is Superman.

The most likely candidate is the Cyborg Superman, who claims his robotic appearance is due to a Kryptonian healing technique.

Another candidate is the mysterious Eradicator, who isn’t big into sticking around and talking after eliminating the bad guys.

A third is Superboy, who is working for Lex Luthor as part of his efforts to rehabilitate the city. Lois Lane discovers he’s a clone of Superman created by Lex to fill the void left by the original Superman with a hero Lex can control.

And finally, there’s Steel, who isn’t a clone or robot or anyone claiming to be Superman, but a man in a super-powered suit with a rocket-powered hammer. He’s basically a Superman-inspired version of Iron Man (with a little Thor’s hammer mixed in).

As Lois continues to investigate what’s really going on, the Justice League’s launch of their new orbital headquarters is interrupted by an alien attack that only raises the stakes in discovering the true nature of the impostor Supermen.

Reign of the Supermen is not as character driven as its predecessor, but still offers some impressive action sequences, especially when the various Supermen have to fight each other. And there are some nice touches that play off moments from several of the previous DC Universe movies.

In fact, this probably should have been the basis for a Man of Steel sequel in the live-action DC films had they not muddled their Justice League storylines in their crash course attempt to catch up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

While The Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen are distinct on their own, they also fit together nicely as a nearly three-hour epic, which is how they were shown in some Fathom events screenings prior to the disc release. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Warner release a Blu-ray that edits them into a single film, as was done with The Dark Knight Returns a few years ago.

The Reign of the Supermen Blu-ray offers an interesting 16-minute featurette about Lex Luthor that analyzes some of his best-known character traits and what makes him a good Superman villain. The disc also includes episodes from “Superman: The Animated Series” and “Justice League Unlimited” that deal with similar subject matter as the movie.

Finally, there’s a 10-minute preview of the upcoming animated movie Justice League vs. The Fatal Five, which appears to be a tie-in with the “Justice League Unlimited” continuity and style, and not a continuation of the DC Universe animated continuity (though Reign of the Supermen does provide a post-credits tease for where its storyline could be headed next).

Reign of the Supermen