Movie Review: Batman The Dark Knight Returns Part 1

dc product darkknightreturns anim partI Movie Review: Batman The Dark Knight Returns Part 1
The latest of the DC Animated films has arrived! And it is an adaptation of one the comic book industries biggest game changers (along with Watchmen), The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller. This is a legendary story that pretty much setup modern day comic books thanks to its dark themes and mature story line. Now Ive never been a big fan of the graphic novel, I do enjoy reading it from time to time.  It just always seemed like something that would work better as a movie , rather than a comic book.Well DC gave me the animated version of TDKR and boy was this movie freaking awesome! The first thing they did right was splitting the story into two parts.  Despite being only 4 issues long, the story is very dense and a LOT happens in it.  Batman Year One animated film suffered because it tried to fit everything in 64 minute movie, TDKR doesn’t have this problem and its a far better film because of it.

The story line heavily inspired Dark Knight Rises and there are many similarities if you watched the two films right after each other.  It follow a 60 year old Bruce Wayne who retired from his career as Batman after Joker killed Jason Todd. It’s set in a dystopian future where a new gang of Mutants is running around Gotham, murdering, stealing, raping and doing just about any other messed up thing you can think of.  Bruce Wayne returns after a 10 year absence to bring order back to Gotham as the Batman.

The supporting cast consists of the usual suspects such as Alfred and Gordon, with new additions like Carrie Kelly, the first female Robin to ever appear in comics.  The main antagonists of the film, the Mutants and their leader, a seemingly fixed Harvey Dent and a few shots of a lobotomized Joker.

While Alfred barely has any screen time, Gordon and all the rest get enough so that we can see how they feel about their current positions in life. Gordon is on the verge of retiring, something he is extremely unhappy about doing since the city is on the verge of going completely to hell.  Bruce Wayne dealing with his aged body and wounded spirit while trying to fight off the Mutant gang.

The film, like the graphic novel, is extremely dark, it doesn’t shy away from showing blood and the Mutants are creepy bastards.  Just the way the talk and act makes them seem like real monsters and the fact that they don’t think twice in the least about doing all these horrible things makes them almost borderline Joker evil.

The animation is top notch here and it perfectly captures the spirit of the story, everyone looks like their comic book counterpart, exaggerated as they may seem, you almost forget about it and accept the weird stuff by the time the credits finally role.

It also has the best fight scenes Ive seen in any DC animated movie, Robin is very agile and her agility, while absurd is great eye candy.  The fights between Batman and the Mutant leader are fantastic, its very Arkham City esque, where Batman counters his enemies attack and slowly wears him down by breaking his nose or arms or legs, it’s just fantastic to look at.

The voice cast is all around great too, Peter Weller is a great Batman, his voice is deep, scary and it fits this aged Batman well. Ariel Winter also does a pretty good job as Carrie Kelly, despite being like 10 years old.  She gives the character a sense that she takes her job seriously and isn’t reckless like Jason or a thrill seeker like Dick.

While overall the film is great, there were some things that really bugged me, first of all Batman’s costume is bad.  I know that’s how he looks in the comic book too, but his whole Hulk sized body just really distracted me and it really didn’t make any sense for him to be that huge since he retired 10 years ago.  After he gets his black suit with the black/grey color scheme he looks much better.

Carrie Kelly’s costume also is just…. god is it bad.  If there was one thing I wish was changed was her Robin costume.  I mean we’ve had plenty of Robin costumes that have made the character look great, the general public already sees Robin as a joke and this isn’t helping.

Carrie Kelly’s backstory is also never really explained, I mean she just leaves home and her parents (at least I think those high as kite idiots watching TV are her parents) and they don’t even notice? And her reason for being Robin is because she saw Batman and thought it would be fun?………….. Also where did she learn to fight like that?! I mean she takes down like 10 guys without them even noticing her.

I know her being no non sense and becoming Robin for fun sounds contradictory of me, but the character is never explained and you have to fill in the blanks yourself.

Overall, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is a faithful adaptation of the source material and it for the most part succeeds and executing such a legendary comic book and doing it just.


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