Batman The Dark Knight Returns part 1: Review

The Batman we know and love today, from Batman The Animated Series up all the way to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and everything in between owes a huge debt of gratitude to one man and one story; Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.  Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is an iconic story and along with the help of books like The Watchmen helped ushered in darker and more adult themes into the comic book world.  The Dark Knight Returns edgy and dark story telling helped reshaping the mold that was a super hero comic book as we know it today.  DC comics decided it was high time to take Miller’s story and bring it to life via their successful run of animated movies.  Would this story translate or fall flat due to the complexities and overly violent and dark tones?  The answer to that question is a resounding yes.   Adaptations don’t always translate as most would even and especially when the source material is so revered, but DC knocks this one out of the park.

The Thing that impressed me the most was how the film makers found a way to give the movie the complex layers that the comic book celebrates as one of it’s strong points of the story telling.  The comic “The Dark Knight Returns” is rich in layered and over lapped action and dialog, something I thought they may discard but they pull it off quite well here.   It’s not perfect or spot on by any means but as far as a cartoon movie goes it captures the complexity of Miller’s story telling in a way I didn’t think they’d be capable of.  The chaos of the panels couldn’t be duplicated exact, something I wasn’t expecting but the film makers do a great job with the source material and make it work .

The film paces itself very well telling this story of a Gotham over run by a gang called The Mutants and a retired Batman going back into the fray.  It’s tough to watch a Batman animated film without Kevin Conroy doing the voice of Batman, but Peter Weller does a fine job.  He’s a bit more mono toned but it fits Miller’s interpretation of Batman as more of a hulking mass of a man and just an unforgiving a-hole of a Batman.   The rest of the cast is fine, nothing sticks out as great nor does it detract from the movie.  The movie doesn’t scale down the action and most notably the violence of this ultra violent comic book.  Never over the top, but the right amount of fisticuffs and blood to satisfy fans of the book.  An aspect of this film that was a pleasant surprise  because it really set the tone for everything was the score which captures not only the era in which it was written, but sets it apart from any other animated movie in recent memory.  The Film makers chose a tech-noir theme to the score in which this story rightly deserves.

Bottom line, everything from the Frank Miller comic you enjoyed is front and center in this film.  All the action, the complexities of the story telling, the tone, the atmosphere, the social commentary, the iconic images, even the art itself is close to the style Miller uses to bring Batman to life.   As far as DC’s animated universe is concerned they are going in the right direction with taking these great stories and giving them the attention and detail they deserve.  Personally this movie eclipsed Green Lantern First Flight as my favorite Comic Book Animated film, although I guess I’m tainted because The Dark Knight Returns is one of my favorite comic books of all time and the best Batman story of all time.   I give this a very high recommendation to comic book fans, even people who dabble in the geek-culture will enjoy this movie and the best part is, this is only part 1.

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~ by ATOM on September 27, 2012.

2 Responses to “Batman The Dark Knight Returns part 1: Review”

  1. Love the movies so guess I’ll need to catch up on the comics too :).

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