BLU-RAY REVIEW: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS!
Nearly 30 years after its ground breaking debut as arguably the greatest Batman story of all time, The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller has finally made it to film. As part of the DC Animated Universe of original movies, this much anticipated story arc has been released in a stunning two-part series. Part one came out in September of 2012 while part 2 was just released on Tuesday the 29th. With so much going on and so much to stay loyal to from its original content, DC did right by it and the fans by spreading it out over 152 minutes.
After a ten year hiatus from fighting crime, Bruce Wayne is forced back into the cape and cowl when Gotham is overrun by crime. His return is met with a great divide, those who blame him for the criminals themselves and those he see him as their savior, including a fraction of mutants called the “Sons of Batman”.
Batman along with his new Robin, 13-year old Carrie Kelley, set out to bring order back to Gotham. Batman’s defeat of the Mutant leader who murdered the Mayor inspires the citizens of Gotham to rise up against crime. It is these events and the reappearance of Batman that brings the Joker out of his catatonic state at Arkham Asylum.
Part two picks up where one leaves off with its two main focuses on the now escaped Joker whose target for his insane ways is the Batman himself and Superman as a government lackey out to stop Batman by any means necessary. In the midst of all this, was the growing tension between the U.S.and the Soviet Union over the island of Corto Maltese. Batman is conducting a battle on multiple fronts. Not only is he dealing with his arch nemesis The Joker but he has to deal with Gotham’s newest Commissioner, Ellen Yindel who is hell-bent on arresting him. All this and dealing with Superman.
After finally tracking down the Joker, the two battle and both are left a bloody mess. The most poignant part comes when Batman admits to he feels responsible for every death caused by the Joker. Determined to put a stop to it once and for all, Batman breaks the Joker’s neck. Always needing to have the last word, Joker relishes in knowing that he has caused Batman to finally lose control and gives one final smile and laugh before finishing the job himself.
The climax of the story comes when Superman (ordered by the President) and Batman finally meet. Their fight becomes the stuff of legend and debate. But it isn’t until with the help of Oliver Queen’s kryptonite arrow, that Batman gains the upper hand. Batman beats Superman severely, telling him that this was just warning. There wasn’t enough kryptonite to kill him just enough to weaken him. He wanted Superman to stay out of his way, to know how it feels to be vulnerable and to know that he who only man was who bested him. Batman “succumbs” to his injuries and dies.
In the end, the world knows that Bruce Wayne was indeed the Batman but all his secrets and his finances have disappeared. At his funeral, Superman sees Carol Kelley and gives her a knowing wink having noticed a faint heartbeat nearby. In the underground caves it is revealed that Wayne had faked his death in order to finally live a “good life”. With the help of Kelley, Oliver Queen, he will teach his followers how protect his city.
Despite some deviation from the original Frank Miller story, the animation is first rate and the voice delivery by the actors Peter Weller (Batman), Ariel Winter (Robin), Mark Valley(Superman) and Michael Emerson (The Joker) is outstanding. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Parts 1 & 2 is an honest tribute to Frank Miller’s vision. It is also a very worthy addition to anyone’s DVD library.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
May the Dork be with you,
The Dork Knight