When it was revealed that The Dark Knight Returns would be split into 2 parts, those familiar with the graphic novel from Frank Miller were a little baffled by this decision as the back half of the story is the 'meat' in terms of action and excitement. Naturally, if you were unimpressed with TDKR, Pt. 1, you'll be blown away by Part 2. The 76 minute feature film is literally one action scene after another as Batman maneuvers to take back Gotham City and shepherds its citizens in the aftermath of a semi-thwarted nuclear attack.
This is an extremely faithful adaptation of Miller's graphic novel and for an animated direct-to-video release aimed primarily at kids I was shocked by how much of the extreme violence was kept intact. After watching this film, you'll definitely be thinking about a live-action version and the fact that Michael Keaton is just about the right age to do it.
The voice acting is superb as expected from a cast assembled by the great, Andrea Romano. Peter Weller (Robocop, Stare Trek Into Darkness) plays an aged Bruce Wayne and has a delivery that conveys a sense of determination tinged with fatigue that's perfect for a battle-worn, aging Dark Knight. Michael Emerson's (Lost) Joker may take some getting used to but it grows on you and by the time he hits the stage on The David Endocrine Show he's found his stride. Also making notable voice impressions were Mark Valley as Superman and Robin Atkin Downes as Oliver Queen. Not a weak portrayal in the entire voice cast.
The animation is crisp yet stylistically dated as we're presented a futuristic version of the 80's (The Dark Knight Returns was released in 1986) complete with a Ronald Reagan-like President masterfully portrayed by Jim Meskime. The main fight scenes, Batman vs Joker and Batman vs Superman are well executed with the battle between Batman and the Clown Prince of Crime especially standing out. Impressive detail is also given to building and background fill-ins making for a true visual treat.
This is one of the better direct-to-video efforts from Warner Bros. in recent memory and even though we're all suffering from a little Batman/Superman fatigue, this one is a can't miss.
Running Time: 1 hr 16 min
Release Date: 29 January 2013 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Starring: Peter Weller, Ariel Winter, Michael Emerson, David Selby, Mark Valley, Michael Jackson, Conan O'Brien, Tress MacNeille, Jim Meskimen, Robin Atkin Downes
Directed by: Jay Oliva
Written by: Bob Goodman (screenplay),Frank Miller (novel)
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is a two-part animated superhero film, an adaptation of the 1986 comic book story arc "The Dark Knight Returns" by Frank Miller and a sequel to the 2011 animated film Batman: Year One. It was directed by Jay Oliva, who worked as a storyboard artist on Man of Steel, Batman: Year One and Batman: Under the Red Hood. Several other Batman veterans were also involved in the film. Part 1 was released September 25, 2012, and Part 2 is scheduled for release January 29, 2013. It is the 15th film in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series.
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