Faithful Adaptation of One of Batman's Best Stories
After months of waiting, it's finally here, the conclusion to the animated adaptation of Frank Miller's epic, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Like Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1, the folks at DC's animated division have once again created a movie worthy of the source material.
When I first heard that DC was dividing The Dark Knight Returns into two movies, the cynic in me saw this as a cash grab. But now that I've seen both movies, I'm glad the decision was made to divide the story into two movies. Nothing feels rushed, nothing feels left out.
Michael Emerson did a great job voicing the Joker. His Joker is not Mark Hamill's Joker, but it is terrific in its own way. While I love Batman: The Animated Series, and hear Mark Hamill's Joker and Kevin Conroy's Batman when I read those characters, I like that Andrea Romano was tasked with finding all-new voice talent for the two Dark Knight Returns movies.
The climatic fight scene between Superman and Batman was awesome, as was the scene where Superman is hit by the nuclear bomb. Both scenes were like seeing what my mind's eye sees in the gutters of the comic brought to life. The producers did an amazing job with both.
Having recently watched Batman: Year One, it was nice to see a couple of Easter eggs for that movie in this one. On the Gordan's apartment wall, you can see photos of Gordan's first wife, Barbara and their infant son James Jr.
My only complaints about the movie are minor. The lighting seemed too bright for some of the street level action. I would have expected more shadows and murkier colors. The comic is full of a lot of blacks and a lot of grays, but the animated movie has a more colorful overall palette.
While I liked the animation, there were two character designs that stood out for me that seemed very off from their comic book counterparts. In The Dark Knight Returns comic, Bruno, the Joker's swastika-adorned, Neo-Nazi goon always looked like a post-op tranny to me. She's more obviously a woman here in the movie. Batman's bag lady disguise is the other design that looked jarring to me. In the comic, this is a scary looking disguise. The bag lady looks like disease and death in an overweight bag. But her gruesome features are gone in the movie. Sure, she's not winning any beauty contests, but they definitely gave her an upgrade in the looks department.
I bought the limited edition version of the movie at Best Buy, which comes with a small Joker figure. Was this figure worth the extra five bucks? I'm going to say no. The Joker's face looks more like David Bowie by way of Gene Simmons and there is virtually no articulation.
My Final Verdict
I definitely recommend watching Batman: Year One and then both parts of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. All three movies are very faithful and very well done adaptations of what I think are the two greatest Batman stories ever told.