Friday, September 28, 2012

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 - Review

Frank Miller’s seminal tale of Batman returning from retirement has gotten an animated film adaptation. And it’s glorious. For those not familiar with the story, it’s been a decade since Batman was last seen in Gotham City, and it’s worse than it ever was before. A horrible militant gang called the Mutants is killing anyone they cross, and the police are helpless against their numbers and firepower.

Bruce Wayne sees a world without Batman and won’t stand for it. Now, as an elderly man, Batman returns to Gotham City with new enemies and unlikely allies. If its war the Mutants want, its war they’re going to get.

Elderly Bruce and WAY old Alfred

 I can remember the first time I read Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Once you’ve experienced that graphic novel you can never look at Batman the same way again. The gritty characters, the much darker tone, and the natural progression of The Dark Knight make for one of the best sequential art pieces ever created.

Batman on his first night back out on patrol

 I was worried when the film was scheduled to be the next DC Universe animated feature, but after five minutes into the story I knew that it was one of the best Batman adaptations ever. Not only does it capture the essence of the graphic novel, it also digs deep into an elderly Bruce Wayne’s psyche. There are some scenes that are just plain mind-bending, and the film is exceptional because of those risky moments.

The Dark Knight and Robin take on the Mutant Leader

The voice cast is outstanding. Peter Weller (Robocop) plays Batman/Bruce Wayne and nails the old and gravel-filled voice of The Dark Knight. Ariel Winter (ParaNorman) voices Carrie Kelly/Robin and makes anyone who watches it believe that she’s the character through and through. The only thing that I wish I got more of, though I know it’s coming in the next film, is Michael Emerson (Lost) as the Joker. His closing line is completely worth the wait until the next installment.

Carrie Kelly - Robin

Here’s the bottom line – this isn’t your dad’s version of Batman. This is the book, paired with Watchmen, that helped usher in the new age of comics in the 80’s. It’s dark, powerful, and examines crime-fighters in a very realistic light while still being based in fantasy.

This adaptation is faithful and expands upon the original story in a brand new medium. If you thought The Dark Knight Rises was good, you should see the book it took most of its influences from.

RATING: 9.5/10

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