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'Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1' Blu-ray Review

The story that changed the way everyone looked at Batman is coming to the small screen.

Without a doubt, BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS changed the way people looked at Batman and comics in general. Batman always had a certain level or respect but was Frank Miller's 1986 four-issue prestige series that brought both grittiness and a new way to think about Batman.

The story told the tale long time readers never expected to see. We had a grizzled Batman who had been inactive for ten years. The idea of Batman retiring seemed so out of character. We all imagined Batman would be active until he was killed in the line of duty. Yet THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS is seen as one of the definitive Batman stories.

The idea of an attempt being made to adapt this story was both exciting and frightening. DC has a good track record in terms of its animated original movies but taking on one of the best Batman stories is a tremendous task.

Thankfully, the idea was made to break the story into two parts. This movie perfectly adapts the first two issues of the series. It also does a near perfect job of adapting those issues scene by scene. The animation is a little cleaner than Frank Miller's style but you still feel the influence there. Some parts that took only a few panels are delved into with more detail, for example the opening scene with Bruce Wayne involved in a car race. Other scenes, such as the numerous television reports are condensed without losing the full effect. It's actually about fifteen minutes into the movie until we see Bruce back in costume.

The main downside of this adaptation is the loss of some of the inner monologues. They would come across as disruptive or possibly cheesy so it's one of the compromises that had to be made. Carrie Kelly's first time out has her talking to herself rather than thinking to herself. It does work nicely here. The biggest lacking moment was during Batman's battle with him calling out to Dick to be at his side and watch his back. This is missing from the movie but again, the price in delivering a polished adaptation rather than one bogged down by too much prose.

Despite some of the minor changes, there are still several scenes that use the exact dialogue from the comic. You can follow along with your copy if you desire. The better move would be to simply sit back and enjoy the show. You do get a sense of the dreariness and tone the story is meant to deliver.

The voice acting fits the movie nicely as well. Hearing Peter Weller as Batman takes a tiny bit to get used to. David Shelby as Commissioner Gordon didn't quite have the right ring to it. The others (Carrie, Alfred, Mutant Leader, etc) all do a great job in bringing life to the comic pages.

The Blu-ray does offer a good amount of special features. The biggest is a sneak peek at Part 2, set for Winter 2013. We get to see some unfinished scenes along with more insight from Bruce Timm and others involved. This feature has a running time of 6:53.

Another feature is "Her Name is Carrie…Her Role is Robin" (12:23). Here we see Michael Uslan talking about women's rights movement and the importance of a female Robin. Bruce Timm, Bob Goodman and others discuss Frank and Alan Moore taking a mature take on comics in the 80s to help reinvent them. Grant Morrison also shares his thoughts on the matter.

There are a couple episodes from Batman: The Animated Series. Parts 1 and 2 of "Two-Face" are included.

The full Batman and Me: The Bob Kane Story (38:26) documentary is also included.

There is also a sneak peek for Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, which was odd since it's been released for a while now along with a digital comic for THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS.

If there's been any fear over the attempt at adapting this classic story, we can now put those to rest. It is unfortunate that we have to wait a few months for Part 2 but that's a better option than having the entire story condensed down to a single movie. We get crisp and clean animation reminiscent of Frank Miller's style and the comic is virtually brought to life in its entirety (or at least the first half of the series). Fans that read and loved the original comics should be pleased and those that haven't read it will be in for a treat. The movie may not be perfect but most of the few faults could be said to lie within the actual story rather than the execution here.

If you're a fan of Batman and the DC original animated movies, there's no doubt that you'll want to add this to the others already in your collection.

63 Comments
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Posted by Lvenger

@sautor said:

Funny that you mention it.

It is cannon enough to get a movie. To Dc (the owner of the IP) think this comic is worth investing money in it, unlike years upon years of "canon comics" that wont get even mentioned 3 years down the line.

That is the diference between a legacy comic and your "cannon comics"

If this movie stays true to the comic then well see a supuerman eating dirt in that fight, and you in the next review crying a river on how poorly it was handled :)

What I mean is that it's not canon to the post crisis or New 52 continuity. Awesome stories like TKR that exist in their own continuity are not relevant to the continuity that currently exists in comics. I'm starting to think you might be slightly stupid or ill educated about the finer details of comic book continuity. DKR was a 'legacy comic' as you describe it but it does not apply to the current continuity.

Before I go onto mention how rude you are, I'd like to quote from Citizen Bane's blog about this fight. Firstly, "The Superman of the TDKR universe is considerably weaker than the New Earth version (he was almost killed by a nuke). A fight where Superman is holding back considerably, exposed to kryptonite courtesy of Green Arrow, and more concerned about Batman's health than his own, ends with Superman holding Batman's body after he suffers a near fatal heart attack."

Also, "Note how Batman claims that he's "the one man who beat you". Batman can claim whatever he wants. Even with one-sided prep and backup, the fight didn't end with him holding Superman's seemingly dead body, did it? Advantage Kal-El."

Now onto the rudeness. This is supposed to be a site where people share their interest of comics in a friendly environment. I'll give you fair warning that rudeness is not tolerated. See to it that you treat others in the future with more respect than you treated me. Capiche?

Posted by darth_jones

I haven't read the series. Maybe i'll check it out as a video though

Posted by Teerack

Omg the ending got me so pumped for the next one.

Posted by Jawshco

I thought this was a surprisingly good for an Animated movie. Some of the DC animated movies have either disappointed or bored me (All-star Superman,Public Enemies, Elites) while others have been decent (Wonder Woman, Under the Redhood), but this movie was a load of fun. I'll watch it again for sure.

Tony- I agree about Gordon's voice, but I thought Weller was fantastic as Batman (maybe even better than Clint Eastwood putting in the cowl and threating all the chairs of the world).

Edited by sautor

@Lvenger: The one who doesnt understand is you i know what you mean by cannon. What i mean and you seem to miss is that this comic is the comic that made batman what he is today, it might not be in continuity anymore but it is the pillar of current batman comics.

"The Superman of the TDKR universe is considerably weaker than the New Earth version (he was almost killed by a nuke). A fight where Superman is holding back considerably, exposed to kryptonite courtesy of Green Arrow, and more concerned about Batman's health than his own, ends with Superman holding Batman's body after he suffers a near fatal heart attack."

He druged himself to have that heart attack so he could go under and plan for the future (did you even read it?) he showed the world what he wanted(Superman in the floor with no means of defeating batman) and the staged his dead.... Going by your canon does current new 52 take a nuke head on? Last Justice League movie seems to imply he can't.. just saying.

"Now onto the rudeness. This is supposed to be a site where people share their interest of comics in a friendly environment. I'll give you fair warning that rudeness is not tolerated. See to it that you treat others in the future with more respect than you treated me. Capiche?"

Are you felling well? im not rude you are just feeling threaten by someone calling you out on your coment again go to a superman thread and trow that blog there, you might find someone who didnt read the books and believe you...but in this comic and red son superman got his ass handed to him by batman, heck chances are that some day we might get to see that movie...

Posted by k4tzm4n

Just watched this and I absolutely loved it.  Tied with Under the Red Hood for my favorite DC Animated film.

Staff
Posted by Smurfboy

Just watched it last night. I loved it! Planning to watch it again soon!! And man, I cannot wait for Part 2!

Edited by nirbu23

i saw this five days before it cameout at www.movie2k.to the best line was "this isnt just a mud hole son its an operating table and im the surgeon"

Edited by BransonHuggins

@sautor: Okay, I'm not generally a grammar nazi (because honestly who am I to judge) but this pissing match you seem to be having is so ridiculous that it calls for this; just saying.

"He druged himself to have that heart attack so he could go under and plan for the future (did you even read it?) he shown the world what he wanted(Superman in the floor with no means of defeating batman) and the staged his dead.... Going by your canon does current new 52 take a nuke head on? last justice league movie seems to imply he cant.. just saying."

You may have a lot more success in launching an argument (or perceived defending of yourself) if you learn how to not only spell, but make coherent sentences. "He shown the world what he wanted". This one's simple, he SHOWED the world what he wanted. It's really easy, second grade English really. "last justice league movie seems to imply he cant". Last Justice League movie seems to imply he can't. See what I did there. And while we're on the subject, what Justice League movie are you referring to? "Going by your canon does current new 52 take a nuke head on?" "Does current new 52.."? What, who, Hawk, Dove, OMEC, Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, Bruce Wayne, Diana, Kal El, Tim Drake, Damian Wayne, John Constantine....I think you get the point.

"Are you felling well? im not rude you are just feeling threaten by someone calling you out on your coment again go to a superman thread and trow that blog there, you might find someone who didnt read the books and believe you...but in this comic and red son superman got his ass handed to him by batman, heck chances are that some day we might get to see that movie..

Now this, this is a work of genius. Seriously, don't let me (or anyone else for that matter) hold you down with your vastly superior logic and punctuation. We could all learn a thing or two. I mean look at this, "im not rude you are just feeling threaten...", this is an amazing way to frame a rebuttal Start off by using improper punctuation (it's I'm by the way, but I'm sure you know that right?) and then you follow it up (hell let's be fair, you don't even really stop do you) with a nearly perfect run on sentence. It's almost as if some English teacher in a far away land did horrible things to you as a child, and instead of channel that anger into something coherent and worthwhile you decided to aim that anger and rage at arguing about Batman vs Superman. It's phenomenal Truly, I envy your candor and complete disregard for the English language. Keep it up man, you are a national treasure.

PS TDKR is non canon. Though it is an influence on modern day Batman stories, I don't think it's quiet the big deal you may want to think. Go look at Year One, Killing Joke, Long Halloween, A Death in the Family, Grant Morrisons run, and the Black Casebook as more modern day influences on the current continuity and works in Batman, and the books in the Bat family. Yes, TDKR is influential yes it was an amazing comic, but at the same time one very important thing here, IT WAS IN THE FUTURE. So where as it may have set a tone for the bat books, it's not like Dick's out there talking to Bruce saying, "Hey, remember that time you decided to just up and quit for a few years, till you came back even more pissed off and kinda pauncy? Thank god you got that time machine, defeated Ra's, and decided to go into that Lazures Pit." If you don't get the point by now, then please do us all a favor and just give up. Thank you and goodnight.

Posted by LexLuthor

Watched it last night, and felt it was a very good adaptation of Frank Miller's DKR. Sure, there was some instances where I felt Miller's work was more dramatic than what we saw in the animated film, but there wasn't many occurrences of this, and overall felt the people involved with Part 1 did a good job at streamlining the first half of the story, while at the same time being faithful to the source material.

VERY much looking forward to Part 2. This was a story I've been waiting on for years to see some sort of adaptation, and to be perfectly honest, I can't say I was disappointed. WB/DC Animation did a wonderful job.

Posted by yo_yo_fun
"The biggest is a sneak peek at Part 2, set for Winter 2013."

Do we really have to wait for more than a year for Part 2??

Posted by takashichea

I'll try this one out after I watch Superman Batman Apocalypse movie. Couldn't read the review since it would spoil me.

Edited by sautor

@BransonHuggins:

Wall of text levine alter account.

Yeah unless you realize at some point that im learning english cos it is not my native, but thx for being an as$ correcting someone else, ill take it into account.

" I don't think it's quiet the big deal" at least i have an excuse :),

Again the ppl that make money out of it think is important enough to cut the comic in half and make it two movies. This movie is the one that changed the cannon for good, b4 this comic batman was nowhere near the character he is today, after this movie previous batman got retconed an in place we got more or less current batman