Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Pt. 1

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Pt. 1 – 5 out of 5

"Hey...I'm Batman."
In 1986, comic god Frank Miller changed the world of the Caped Crusader forever with four issues later titled The Dark Knight Returns.  The story showed a 55 year old Bruce Wayne trying to settle into a retirement as the crime fighter while Gotham becomes a wasteland of corruption and criminal activities.  Because Bruce Wayne IS Batman and can't fight what he is, he eventually gives in and puts on the cape and cowl to stop a dangerous gang called The Mutants, a believed to be reformed Harvey Dent and the return of the Joker.

The Dark Knight Returns was a dark tale in an already dark comic book (people always seem to forget that Batman was a dark comic book and the Adam West show was a satire of the dark storylines).   When I first read the issues as a young boy, I was blown away with the more mature storyline.  Even now, the story still has an impact on me. In the last year, I re-read the book (Why? Because it has Batman in it, duh!) and I’m still knocked over by Miller’s amazing art and seeing the Dark Knight placed within a story where he’s not in his prime but rather an older gentleman dealing with the problems that come with fighting crime for a living.

Whoa...Bats almost got struck by lightning...The Flash wouldn't like that.

Needless to say, I was a little excited to hear that DC was going to animate this epic story.  My excitement came not only from the fact that they were adapting it to a film but because DC kicks major ass in the animated movie department.

A face even a mother can't love.

Without even seeing the film, I purchased it on glorious Blu-Ray because I was that confident that the end product delivered to me from DC would be worth the money…and it was!

Gordon's mustache only got better with age.

The film follows the comic book very closely and the fanboy in me finds that very pleasing.   However, not only is the film almost panel-for-panel from the comic book but the animation and character designs look nearly exactly the same as Frank Miller’s artwork.  If you’re familiar with Miller’s work, you know his art style is very unique and also very stylized. Animating the film in Miller’s style would have been awesome to see but probably would have alienated viewers unfamiliar with the comic and those who don’t really care about art. However, the animators took Miller’s style, took some of the drama and flair out of it and cleaned it up--all the while keeping the soul intact. In essence, they succeeded in creating a look that transfers well to film but also keeps the integrity of the books.

Whoa, Girl Robin...close those legs, Gotham is looking.

Okay, so the movie already has a stellar story going into it and the animation and action are like a hot chick that loves video games and is, for some reason, into ugly dudes (aka the animation and action are like an impossible thing) but where would a great animated movie be without equally amazing voice acting?  It’d probably look like Michael Bay made it. 

"Batman checking in here to remind you that I'm Batman."

Kevin Conroy, thanks to his work on Batman: The Animated Series, set the bar extremely high and made his voice the iconic standard for the Bats.  In the past, attempts at being the next Batman have proved to be failures to me as they don’t come anywhere NEAR Conroy’s performances.  So, when I heard that Robocop himself was going to provide the voice of the older Bruce Wayne, I was cautiously optimistic. Peter Weller ended up being the perfect choice for the Caped Crusader for the film.  While Conroy IS Batman, Weller proved that he was the best choice for the older Bruce Wayne/Batman and he even captured the jaded, cynical sarcasm that overcame the Bats in the comic pages and transferred them nicely to the animated film.

Straight out of the pages of the comic!  Love it!

Last shot...the Joker awakens.
The only real downside to The Dark Knight Returns is the fact that the movie was split into two pieces in order to get the most bang for their buck (don’t think for a second that DC did it so the viewers wouldn’t have to sit through a two and a half hour, maybe three hour, Batman movie.  They did it for the almighty dollar but I’m okay with that.  TAKE MY MONEY, DC!!!). I now have to wait until early next year to see the epic conclusion that results in the President ordering Superman to stop Batman and the Bats taking on a returning Joker.  But at least there’s the trailer to watch and keep my hopes up high…and keep me salivating and waiting like an impatient kid the night before Christmas.

Ooooooo, I can’t wait.

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