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Old 01-15-2013, 06:52 AM   #1
Daniel
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Default The Dark Knight Returns - Review Thread

The Dark Knight Returns - Review Thread




If you have been around the world of Batman for any decent amount of time, it is very likely you are familiar with Frank Miller's graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns. What is considered the definitive work in the way of Bruce Wayne after he has aged and retired (and before Batman Beyond days), The Dark Knight Returns was revered even by non-comic book fans for its engaging story and conclusion to a number of relationships and story lines involving Batman and some of his closest companions. I will touch on the story last, though.

The artwork in the comics was really great for its time, so The Dark Knight Returns really does not change anything except for making it much smoother, colourful, and HD for a modern era. The artists/animators were also part of the Under the Red Hood and Batman: Year One teams, so if you have seen those titles, then you know what to expect here. Everything was fluid and vibrant, well, as vibrant as one can make Gotham City look.

The voice actors were a little all over the place for me. I am one of those people who has been spoiled by Kevin Conroy, so it is hard for me to swallow another voice when Conroy is still somewhere out there. For The Dark Knight Returns, Batman/Bruce Wayne is older, so it may have been a style decision to go with a more mature actor, Robocop himself: Peter Weller. He actually worked for me, for the most part. He definitely did make Batman seem more aged, I just would have liked to have heard some more guttural vocalizations, especially in scenes where Batman is perched atop a hill commanding troops to help Gotham; he was just a wee bit monotone at times. Jim Gordon is voiced by David Selby, new to the animated Batman family. For me, his voice was the one that worked the least and seemed the most out of place.Joker was voiced by Michael Emerson, aka Ben Linus of Lost fame, and he also did a good job bringing some age to the Joker, much better than the choice for Joker in Under the Red Hood.

As for the story, the two parts are split up into two acts, the first being the return of Batman to the city, and overtaking the organised gang force known as the Mutants. Since he has been retired for some time (the details of which are explained in the second act), there is a whole new generation of people with opinions about violent vigilantism, making Batman out to be almost a new hero to the city. Also emerging in the first act is a new Robin. When I first read the graphic novel, I was disappointed to not see a cameo from the likes of Jason Todd, Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, or Barbara Gordon, but the newest Robin (a female gymnast named Carrie) was a great addition to the story.

The premise is actually pretty involved, but it flows together and is edited brilliantly. Once Batman upsets the reign of the Mutants and establishes himself as the city's saviour once again, a new commissioner steps in and decides it is time to take another look at the police opinion on Batman. When things take a major turn on that front, Joker also manages to escape from a mental hospital and returns to his usual madness. On top of that, Superman is now officially an employee of the President of the United States, aligning himself with North America and helping us in a nuclear war against the Russians. When Batman becomes a political scapegoat, Supes himself is called upon to put his old Justice League partner into retirement.

Batman is back and realises it is a new world. He is forced to revisit old values, and has more of a cynical view of the world and how things should be handled. He has grown a lot colder in his old age, even being a little more distant than usual with Alfred and Commissioner Gordon. He knows he has earned his place as the defender of Gotham, and he does not let old age slow him down or stop him from besting his enemies. When he realises his limitations, we are reminded he has the smarts and the resources to compensate for a loss in speed and strength. If you want to see how Batman spends his final days, wraps up things with his lifelong arch-nemesis, and how his strained relationship with Superman turns out, then this is not to be missed. Green Arrow fans might also be thrilled to know he has his own cameo as well.

As with Under the Red Hood, I was quite surprised to see a PG-13 rating on this. The violence is bloody and brutal, and the second act did not alter or censor the topless female Nazi villain. Had this been a live-action movie, an R-rating would certainly be expected. People are shot brutally and without prejudice, Batman is a lot more prone to bloody violence, and there is plenty of it here.

Some minor voice acting complaints aside, The Dark Knight Returns is every bit as good as (if not better than) Under the Red Hood, and should not be missed by Batman fans.

9/10
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Last edited by Daniel; 01-15-2013 at 08:15 AM.
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:49 PM   #2
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Great. I've been wanting to check this out. It's nice to know a real Batman fan liked it so much.
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:51 PM   #3
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I did the Part One review a while back, completely agree with what you said. It is pretty faithful to the graphic novel and the voice acting varies from good to spotty. Regardless, it is so damn entertaining and I just love seeing my favorite Batman story blown up on the big screen.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:43 PM   #4
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Just finished Part Two. Better than Part One. Incredible. Voice acting is spotty, and definitely not up to BTAS terms, however the action is great, the story is epic and I was entertained throughout. A more in depth review on the way.


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