Everyone has to agree that BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS not only changed Batman comics but pretty much comics in general. The story by Frank Miller brought about a darker and grittier edge to comics that wasn't really seen too often. Bringing the story to animated form was both exciting and scary at the same time. Back in September we had the first part and now the second part is available to everyone.
I mentioned in my review for the first part that I did really like it but I didn't love it. In this part, some of the same problems naturally still apply.
For better or for worse, the story feels a tiny bit dated and there isn't an effort made to rectify this. Sure it could have been tweaked to fit in better today but that would be wrong. If an adaptation is to be made, it should retain the same feel. Going back and reading the original story, you'll get the same, slightly dated feel.
The bigger problem for me was the choice of some of the voice actors. I've pretty much never really had a problem with the choices made. Unfortunately some here just don't sound right to me. I mentioned that Peter Weller as the Dark Knight takes some getting used to. I just imagine this older Batman having an even rougher and grittier voice than any we've heard before. Weller does a great job delivering his lines but it's more the sound and tone of his voice doesn't have that harder sound. I also mentioned similar problems with David Shelby as Commissioner Gordon. Gordon is a pretty big-sized character here but he doesn't really have a booming voice to fit his frame.== TEASER ==
As for Michael Emerson as Joker...again, the lines are well delivered. I think I might have to watch those Joker scenes again to really form a decision. We definitely have a different Joker here, as we should. If it hasn't already been mentioned, hearing Conan O'Brien as the talk show host was pretty cool.
If you look back at the first movie or the first half of the comics, this part soars above it. We almost have two separate movies. The first half mainly deals with Joker. This is definitely where the movie earns its PG-13 rating. We know Joker is a sick and twisted character. If you've read the comic, you know what he's capable of here.
There is plenty of Joker-violence showing how easy it could be for Batman to cross the line. People die. There's is blood. You'll see people get shot and stabbed. It's a little unsettling but at the same time, it's part of the nature of the story. This is Batman at the end. Seeing their confrontation in animated form was worth the wait from September.
Then of course there's Superman.
When the story was released, it really gave readers what they wanted, Batman vs. Superman. Throughout, we see Superman's action as he responds to the President. When it's time for the confrontation between Batman and Superman, it's pretty epic.
Superman vs. Batman: When Heroes Collide (9:24) Bob Goodman (screenwriter), Michael Uslan (exec producer Dark Knight Rises), Mike Carlin Creative Director Animation, Denny O'Neil (editor) Richard Rader, PhD (Lecturer, Dept. of Classics, UCLA), Bruce Timm and Grant Morrison talk about the conflict between the two. Who would win? How the story plays out, all the killing here. It's a great feature hearing about the characters over time.
The Joker: Laughing in the Face of Death (14:05) Bruce Timm, Grant Morrison, Richard Rader, PhD., Denny O' Neil, Michael Uslan, Jerry Robinson and Michael Emerson discuss what makes Joker tick. There's a deep look at his relationship with Batman over the years. His kills weren't really too graphic before. There are some interesting comparisons to other villains such as Moriarty. Heroes are defined by their villains and Joker really defines who Batman is.
From Sketch to Screen: Exploring the Adaptation Process with Jay Oliva (43:30) Oliva is the director of both parts. He discusses looking at the comics and what can and can't really be done. Capturing the spirit of the scenes and making minor changes when necessary. There are some great looks at the storyboards and insight into making the movies.
"The Last Laugh" from Batman: The Animated Series
"The Man Who Killed Batman" from Batman: The Animated Series
"Battle of the Superheroes!" from Batman: The Brave and the Bold
Digital Comic excerpt from the Graphic Novel The Dark Knight Falls (book 4) by Frank Miller
Overall, it's not a perfect adaptation. But there's no denying this is pretty much what we would want. If you're a fan of the story, you'll be pleased to know the filmmakers don't hold back. There is plenty of action and violence. The tone of story is captured and this is the Dark Knight in his final days. Some of the choices for voice acting is questionable but they do a stellar job regardless. There aren't many stories that immediately jump to mind as ones we have to see made into a movie. The Dark Knight Returns is one of them. It's an important part of Batman's mythos and thankfully we get a really good animated version.