Movie Review: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns 1 & 2

NOTE: Of course I’m aware of the Boston bombings. It is a sad, tragic event and shows both the worst and the best in people. My sympathy and thoughts are with those reading this who may have been affected. Stay strong, good will always triumph over evil.

Details from IMDB:

BatmanTDKR1

 

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 (Video 2012)

76 min  -  Animation | Action  -  25 September 2012 (USA)

Ratings: 7.9/10 from 11,557 users
Reviews: 40 user | 37 critic

Batman has not been seen for ten years. A new breed of criminal ravages Gotham City, forcing 55-year-old Bruce Wayne back into the cape and cowl. But, does he still have what it takes to fight crime in a new era?

Director:

Jay Oliva

Writers:

Bob Goodman (screenplay), Bob Kane (characters), 1 more credit »

Stars:

Peter Weller, Ariel Winter, David Selby | See full cast and crew

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 (Video 2013)

76 min  -  Animation | Action  -  29 January 2013 (USA)

BatmanTDKR2

Ratings: 8.1/10 from 6,232 users
Reviews: 17 user | 24 critic

The Batman has returned after a 10-year absence. The Gotham authorities want to arrest him. An old foe wants a reunion. The Feds want the Man of Tomorrow to put a stop to him.

Director:

Jay Oliva

Writers:

Bob Goodman (screenplay), Frank Miller (comic book)

Stars:

Peter Weller, Ariel Winter, Michael Emerson | See full cast and crew

Initial Thoughts:

You may have noticed that this is my first combo review! (exciting I know Winking smile) I didn’t see the point in splitting up the reviews as this is really 1 movie spilt into two parts (like Kill Bill). So this is an obvious choice for me, I’ve always loved Batman and these two graphic novels (by Frank Miller of course) are wonderful, some of the very best Batman comics ever written in my opinion.

Main Points:

Where to even start? Everything is done so well here, the animation, the voice work, the faithful adaptation of the comics. Peter Weller is excellent as Batman (he was Robocop after all and certainly Frank Miller’s choice).Michael Emerson (from Lost) also does an amazing job as the Joker.

When you know a story well it’s such a thrill to see it brought to life, with a comic book its completely natural for it to be made into a movie and these two movies hooked me instantly. I found it hard to even stop the movie to have my lunch or use the bathroom, even though I knew what would happen next I still couldn’t wait to see it Smile. Rather than talk about a lot of individual scenes I’ll just talk about some feelings and a couple of my favourites, so that means…

SPOILER ALERT!

In the beginning of part 1 Bruce and Gordon are having a drink together. Gordon knows his secret and Bruce retired Batman 10 years ago. Gordon himself, now 70, is stepping down as Commissioner in a month. After the drink and some strained conversation Bruce leaves and notices all the crime everywhere. Two gang members approach him and get ready to attack. Bruce just says “come on!” and waits for them but they back down. Back at the house he watches the news and thinks about the state of Gotham and a Batman comes through the window (which was done in Batman: Year One). Bruce thinks “you’ll never leave me alone”. I loved how the Batman identity is part of him, a calling her can’t ignore. He must down the cowl once more and fight crime.

Later in part one Batman gets his ass kicked by the mutant leader, the new Robin (a young woman he saved earlier) puts him back in the super-Batmobile and Alfred patches him up. Once he’s brought back to the batcave she asks Alfred “where’s he gone?” and he says “To find his strength.” Bruce goes into a cave, hobbling and bleeding slightly to stare at a Bat. It sounds silly but it works really well as is touching. Bruce Wayne is human and flawed but his strength of will and body is amazing and he can always just summon up what he needs to fight on.Thinking smile

Then there’s the final fight with the mutant leader. Bruce fights smarter, targeting muscle groups, fighting in mud to slow him down and making him bleed to obscure his vision. He beats him in front of all his gang members, thousands of them, so they will become his army. Even when the fight is over he punishes him and says “this isn’t a fight, this is my operating table” breaking his noise, an arm and a leg (the leader had it coming). It was a great scene in the comic and I loved it here Smile. Even older Batman seriously kicks ass.

Part 2 brings the Joker back in action. The Joker kills hundreds of people in one night and Batman decides that he must break his rule, the Joker must die. It all gets down to Batman and the Joker alone in a tunnel of love ride, it’s a brutal fight where Batman takes out one of the Joker’s eyes and finally breaks his neck. The Joker shots him in the side and stabs him many times in the chest. Even beaten he says “It doesn’t matter, I won. I made you lose control. I’ll see you in hell.” The Batman, near death himself, then has to escape from the cops and his haunted by the Joker’s body, burning but still somehow smiling at him. I love Batman so much it was hard to watch him fight once more for his life, so hurt and just barely escaping with Robin’s help.

As Alfred says as he once more lies near death “He’s too stubborn to die.” He recovers just as Superman, summoned by an incoming nuclear missile sent by the Russians, just manages to detonate it in space. Supe is terribly wounded by the nuke and the lack of sunlight which follows. Meanwhile all the power is gone in Gotham, from an electromagnetic pulse, and Bruce is forced out of bed by the chaos that ensues on the street. Batman and Robin on horseback was such a great idea and seeing them stops the riots was another moving scene. The new commissioner, who issued a warrant for Batman’s arrest, finally has her chance but doesn’t take it. She finally takes Gordon’s advice and says “He’s bigger than us” recognizing that Batman doesn’t just fight crime, he’s a symbol of hope and he inspires people to find the best in themselves.

Of course perhaps the best part of both movies is the fight between Batman and Superman. The President has had enough of Batman’s antics and orders Supe to deal with him. Batman puts on a super-suit and hatches a plan to beat him. Superman fights him reluctantly but when Green Arrow (now with only 1 arm) hits him with an arrow filled with Kryptonite dust Batman beats him down the ground. He shows Superman mercy and says “Remember in years to come of your long life that I beat you”. Bruce then executes the last part of his plan, he knows the government will not leave him alone and he fakes his own death. Sadly Alfred cannot handle the stress anymore, as Wayne manor burns to the ground he dies and Bruce is left with Robin and his army of gang members.

Final Thoughts:

I loved what Christopher Nolan did with the Batman movies but I have to say these movies, in particular part 2, is better. It is closer to the comics (obviously Winking smile) and gets more into Bruce’s head. Shows more of what Batman really is and lets him be more of a detective. Plus Superman! I mean come on, even with help Bruce is human and he beats Superman, I think that alone shows how amazing a person he really is.Open-mouthed smile These movies have the emotion, the action, the story, they have it all. I was excited, I was moved, I was enthralled. If you are a Batman fan (and at least 14) you HAVE to see these. There are Frank Miller’s masterpiece and while the movies could have been better (not enough of Bruce’s thoughts and vulnerability with age are shown I thought) there are still amazing. A very strong 8 and 9 out of 10 respectively Thumbs up. Next will be a better than than never movie review of J.J.’s Star Trek. Until next time I am as always…

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1 Comment

  1. […] and as I’ve never even read the comics I didn’t have the anticipation I did with Year One and The Dark Knight Returns. So while I enjoyed this movie and would recommend it I can only give it 7/10. Next post will be […]


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