PaulRom Reviews: BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, PART 1

DC Animation's first part of their highly anticipated adaptation of the classic graphic novel (written by Frank Miller) is finally hitting DVD/Blu-Ray tomorrow. Is Part 1 as successful DC's other animated projects, or does it fall short? Hit the jump for my review.

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By Paul Romano - 9/24/2012


Cast: Peter Weller, Ariel Winter, David Selby, Gary Anthony Williams, Wade Williams, Michael Emerson
Director: Jay Oliva
Running Time: 1 hr. 16 min.
Rating: PG-13 for some intense sequences of violence and action
Release Date: September 25th, 2012
Rating:

One of the most critically acclaimed Batman graphic novels of all time is Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, which sees an older, retired Bruce Wayne forced to don the cowl once more when a major threat hits Gotham City. Comic book fans have been wanting to see a film adaptation of the graphic novel for years (plot elements from the story have been used for this summer's The Dark Knight Rises). Now, as an answer to the prayers of many, DC Animation releasing a two-part adaptation of this particular story. Known for usually crafting excellent direct-to-video projects (such as Batman: Under The Red Hood, Justice League: Doom, and another Frank Miller adaptation, Batman: Year One), expectations were high for their latest production. And I'm thrilled to say that Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 does not disappoint.

I haven't read the original graphic novel other than a few pages/panels, so I can't really say how close the movie is to its source material beyond the art work. And the film's animation is very close to the novel's art work. The animation depicts the futuristic Gotham City brilliantly, and the character designs were all spot on. The film is more violent than I initially expected, with the Mutant Leader being particularly brutal. The Mutants make a formidable threat to Gotham, and seeing Batman taking on the Leader was thrilling to say the least (the final fight between the two was particularly stunning).


The voice work is great, as expected. Peter Weller (best known as the original RoboCop) is very good as Bruce Wayne/Batman. His voice doesn't have enough emotion to it, and doesn't hold a candle to Kevin Conroy or Bruce Greenwood, but Weller does a solid job portraying the Dark Knight. Ariel Winter is also good as Carrie Kelly/Robin, while David Selby is excellent as James Gordon. Gary Anthony Williams is perfect as the villainous Mutant Leader, providing the intimidating voice needed for the character. Everybody else does a fine job with their respective characters.

Concerning flaws, there's only one that really sticks out: its running time (which is usually the case with DC Animation's films). At 76 minutes, The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 is a bit too short for my liking. While not rushed like Batman: Year One (its 64 minute running time made an otherwise fantastic movie feel quite rushed), I would've preferred to see Dark Knight a little longer (90 minutes would have been perfect). With these movies being so short, it's a great idea to adapt the graphic novel with two films, rather than cramming the whole story into one (which is exactly what the Year One movie did).

Overall, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 is fantastic. Despite its relatively minor flaws, DC Animation have really outdone themselves with this film. Perfectly written, well acted and deliciously violent, this is a movie that I recommend to any Batman fan. The Joker cameo at the very end was the perfect set up for Part 2, which hits stores early next year. To say the least, I am very excited to see the next half of the story.

Click HERE to order your copy of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1.











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46 Comments
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TayDee - 9/24/2012, 2:06 PM
Can't wait for part 2. I didn't really care for part 1
Frogman - 9/24/2012, 2:13 PM
When is this coming to the UK? For that matter when is Justice League: The New Frontier coming to Region 2? Or Justice League: Doom? or All Star Superman? or Superman vs. The Elite? or Green Lantern: Emerald Knights? Damn DC!
johnnybu243 - 9/24/2012, 2:15 PM
You never read the comic? Thats required reading for Batman and comic fans alike.
Tony93 - 9/24/2012, 2:28 PM
hold on.. this is the movie adaption from the comicbook right? the dark knight returns..
BackwardGalaxy - 9/24/2012, 2:30 PM
I mean, do any of you actually know how to write a review? You criticize it for being too short, but say it doesn't feel rushed. Then what's wrong with the length? How about explaining yourself?

And even if you haven't read the original graphic novel, would it have killed you to do so before writing the review? Or are you against research?
Tony93 - 9/24/2012, 2:35 PM
this is base on the graphic novel? should i read it before watching part 1
johnnybu243 - 9/24/2012, 2:40 PM
RE: Tony93

I saw the movie and read the novel. Both are great. You probably dont need to read the novel to enjoy the movie but as a comic book fan the novel is def worth reading. One of Batmans best.
8thDynasty - 9/24/2012, 2:42 PM
Wait, what - you never read the story?
PaulRom - 9/24/2012, 2:49 PM
I've always known how the novel's story went, I just never got around to reading the novel itself. It's a priority for me now after watching the film.
PaulRom - 9/24/2012, 2:52 PM
Oh, and I'm not sure about what the status of the Flashpoint movie is. Haven't heard anything about it since Kevin Conroy said that he recorded lines for it.
blite32 - 9/24/2012, 2:56 PM
@PaulRom and Tony93

You have to read The Dark Knight Returns. It is even better than the movie. It's a work of genius. But what ever you do, I urge you NOT to read it's sequel The Dark Knight Strikes Again. That book is absolute garbage. I almost stopped reading Batman after that.
bundyse - 9/24/2012, 3:04 PM
Just ordered it along with superman Vs, the elite. There are all region free
GodzillaKart - 9/24/2012, 3:20 PM
@Paul Romano: How did you get this far as a comic book fan without ever reading TDKR?!
GodzillaKart - 9/24/2012, 3:21 PM
Also, this was the best Batman movie to date. Really fantastic.
beane2099 - 9/24/2012, 3:34 PM
I wish they would give that treatment to all their GN adaptations; hell I'd like them to do this with their adaptations period - or four if it's Crisis on Infinite Earths. Couldn't care less if they do Flashpoint though (story wasn't that good).
DioFoRio - 9/24/2012, 3:40 PM
this movie was what Batman on celluloid needs to be
HeadPool420 - 9/24/2012, 3:40 PM
How can you review a comic book based movie without reading the source material it is entirely based on?
DioFoRio - 9/24/2012, 3:46 PM
it's fair to review it as a stand alone.
DioFoRio - 9/24/2012, 3:47 PM
I never read Avengers number 1 ; )
johnshadow24 - 9/24/2012, 3:54 PM
I've had the BluRay rip for two weeks and it's a phenomenal piece of work. I read the graphic novel again after watching and I compared it throughout and it more than stands up as a great adaptation. I was so angry at the end as "To Be continued.." came up, I want part 2 now!!! They should have released this as a full 2/3 hour movie, grr at DC. The highlight must be the final fight with the Mutant leader and I'm glad to see they stuck with all the TV screens from the comic. Batman is my favourite DC character(Im much more into Marvels characters) and I have all of DC animations films, this is definately in the top 3 if not the best. Batman year 1 was superb.
marvel72 - 9/24/2012, 3:55 PM
its good brutal in places,didn't really like robin much but overall a good animated movie.

is the best animated dc movie yet? not sure,i really like under the red hood.

maybe when i get to see part two,it'll take the number one spot.
Wildaniel - 9/24/2012, 4:01 PM
1 hr. 16 min. Really? Thats all? I know its only part one but still, thats too short! Anyways great review Paul, cant wait to watch it!
BlueHawaiiSurfer - 9/24/2012, 4:12 PM
"I haven't read the original graphic novel other than a few pages/panels, so I can't really say how close the movie is to its source material beyond the art work" Stopped taking the article seriously at this point lol. Please find someone qualified to do a proper review of this film because someone unfamiliar with the source material can't really give the opinion the visitors of this site deserve.
BlueHawaiiSurfer - 9/24/2012, 4:17 PM
and "I haven't read Avengers #1" isn't really a valid argument unless you have seen a movie based on that issue, lol. Seriously...this is widely considered one of the greatest Batman stories of all time. On THIS site, it deserves a review from someone who is actually familiar with the legendary tale it was based on. This isn't JoeBloehometownnewspapermoviereview.com
bcom77 - 9/24/2012, 4:34 PM
It's only 76 minutes? I would've thought that because they're splitting it up into 2 parts then it would be longer than that/ Maybe they're saving it all for part 2. I have read this book so many times that the anticipation of seeing it is killing me! The only concern I have from the short clips I've seen is Peter Weller's voice, it doesn't seem intimidating enough. The Batman in this book is outright dangerous and almost unhinged, he's one scary mother fricker and I just don't get that from the voice work I've heard so far. Hopefully I'm proved wrong once I see the whole thing. Oh, and @BlueHawaiiSurfer - Not taking anything away from the reviewer but I totally agree with ya bud :-)
Hellsboy - 9/24/2012, 4:40 PM
the last fight has begun what other reason do you need?
Supes17 - 9/24/2012, 4:58 PM
Under the Red Hood is my favorite
Tony93 - 9/24/2012, 7:53 PM
getting it off of amazon
FoxForce5 - 9/24/2012, 10:01 PM
As much as I'm looking forward to seeing this, I might wait till they release part 2 so I can watch them back to back as a 2 1/2 hour movie... If I had to guess, I think it'll play better than "The Dark Knight Rises" but, hey, that's just me.
thalidomide - 9/25/2012, 1:08 AM
Oh I can't wait to see this.
hush - 9/25/2012, 2:04 AM
How has someone NOT read the graphic novel?
Nubase - 9/25/2012, 2:43 AM
This was brilliant, the best animation movie l seen so far, l read the comic and had some doubts if they would pull it off as a DC animation but they did big time.

The joker at the end was a epic set up for part 2 and cannot wait for that to arrive.
Nubase - 9/25/2012, 2:46 AM
@TheChurchKnightReturns

stop being a cry baby and watch it, do you really need a review to watch the dark knight return?, don't you know the importance of this comic book?
EsoOne - 9/25/2012, 2:57 AM
when does this get released in uk?
Kyos - 9/25/2012, 5:25 AM
I remember watching a trailer, and I really didn't like Batman's voice. Hurm...
Rothwilder - 9/25/2012, 5:38 AM
Paul. No more articles until you have read it :) Go start....NOW!

Good write up though
BillyBatson1000 - 9/25/2012, 6:49 AM
You lost me at "I haven't read the original graphic novel."
GodzillaKart - 9/25/2012, 7:10 AM
I have to say, they left out the parts of the book that would have dated it in a bad way. It still seems like it takes place in the 80's, but I don't miss the Dr. Ruth character for instance.
PaulRom - 9/25/2012, 9:03 AM
So I can't review a movie for what it is because it's based on a graphic novel I haven't gotten to read yet? Some of the logic on this site is incredibly flawed.
johnnybu243 - 9/25/2012, 9:17 AM
RE: PaulRom

You can obviously review it as a stand alone film. And I think you did a good job at that. But you cant really say if it was a good adaption. If you havent read the novel how can you know if they adapted it well or not?
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