The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 Blu-Ray Review - Mania.com



The Dark Knight Returns Part 2

Mania Grade: A

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Info:

  • Rated: PG-13
  • Starring: Peter Weller, David Selby, Ariel Winter, Gary Anthony Williams, Michael Emerson
  • Written By: Frank Miller (original comic), Bob Goodman (screenplay)
  • Directed By: Jay Oliva
  • Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
  • Original Year of Release: 2013
  • Special Features: See Below
  • Series:

The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 Blu-Ray Review

Frank Millers landmark series brought to life

By Tim Janson     January 30, 2013
Source: Mania.com

After an outstanding beginning to Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, could part two continue the excellence and bring it all home?  In a word…YES!  Part two begins right where the first part left off, with the Joker in Arkham Asylum watching news reports of Batman’s return.  He convinces his doctor that he wishes to atone for his past crimes and is booked on a talk show to tell his story.  Meanwhile President Reagan is showing growing concern over the Batman’s return and urges Superman, now the only officially sanctioned superhero, to have a “talk” with him. 

  

The Joker goes on national TV and proceeds to kill the host and the entire audience with a deadly gas. Joker escapes to an amusement park with Batman and the new Robin, Carrie Kelley, not far behind.  The Joker cuts a deadly path through the park, killing anyone in his way before engaging Batman in a final fight to the death inside the tunnel of love.  Batman barely survives himself but has little time to recuperate. 

  

Superman, in a weakened state after fresh taking a blast from a Russian nuke that he re-directed into space, comes to Gotham to confront Batman once and for all.  Batman, wearing a suit which greatly amplifies is strength and durability, goes toe-to-toe with Superman with Robin and an aged, but still spry Oliver Queen providing support. 

  

I had not read Frank Miller’s limited series since it first came out back in 1986 but the two-part film proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it has lost none of its impact and rightfully deserves a spot as one of the most important comic stories ever.  It is Superman who becomes the antagonist, dutifully carrying out the will of the President even if it means having to kill his old friend.  The brilliant dynamic of Superman’s Ultra Right Wing, government-controlled crony is offset by Batman’s “power to the people” stance as endorses a street gang called Sons of the Batman to help him keep Gotham’s streets safe. 

  

Part two is actually two distinct halves with Batman vs. Joker doing their deadly dance, bringing their long rivalry to a brutal and bloody conclusion.  Michael Emerson, best known as Ben Linus from lost voices the Joker in a far different way than were used to hearing.  Rather than the maniacal, cackling style of Mark Hamill, Emerson instead uses a more sedate, even soothing voice, which makes Joker that much more terrifying.  You can see where he might have been able to fool his doctors into thinking he had reformed.  Even in the end, while Batman is able to walk away from the fight, it seemed as if the Joker had actually won. 

  

Veteran TV star Mark Valley (Body of Proof, Harry’s Law, The Human Target) is brought in to voice Superman and also earns high marks.  His Superman is commanding and self-assured and no one is more surprised than he is when Batman gets the better of him.  Peter Weller again is standout as the older, grizzled Batman.  One thing he does to great effect is to show Batman’s rebirth at the end as he is reinvigorated by the events which have taken place and is ready to lead the next generation of Gotham’s protectors. 

  

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is gorgeously animated, capturing the unique look of Miller’s art on the story.  While they have flailed a bit when it comes to theatrical films, DC Comics has exceled when it comes to their animated films and this one may have been the best one yet.

Blu-Ray Extras


Superman vs. Batman: When Heroes Collide (9:24) – Several comic and film luminaries discuss the rivalry between Superman and Batman including Michael Uslan, Mike Carlin, Denny O’Neil, Bruce Timm, and Grant Morrison.


The Joker: Laughing in the Face of Death (14:05) – A look at the history of The Joker including interviews with co-creator the late Jerry Robinson and Michael Emerson.


From Sketch to Screen: Exploring the animation Process with Jay Oliva (43:40) – Director Jay Oliva takes viewers through a detailed overview of bringing Frank Miller’s epic to life in animation.


From the DC Vault: Bruce Timm picks three cartoons from Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Brave and the Bold.


Preview of Superman Unbound (10:14) – A sneak Peek at the next DC Comics animated film.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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ElBaz13 1/30/2013 5:32:40 AM

Can't wait to see this but not buying yet. Crossing my fingers for a full part 1 and 2 release together on 1 disc. :)

 

CaptAmerica04 1/30/2013 7:58:52 AM

Not to nitpick, Tim (which, of course means that I'm about to), but... Mark HAMILL is the voice of the Joker that we're used to.  Not Mark Harmon (who we're used to seeing on NCIS, and before that... ummm... that film "Summer School," I guess?)

violator14 1/30/2013 8:57:23 AM

" SupermanBuster"- armor?

ObiWannaJones 1/30/2013 9:31:56 AM

Can't wait to see this. I was never a fan of Frank Miller's politicizing (and I'm sure there will be many negative comments directed toward me for saying that), but I still think DKR is a classic.

I really hope they DO NOT do a Dark Knight Strikes Again adaptation. With the exception of Ralph Dibny/Elongated Man being "Smiling Bob" and selling a Gingold version of Extenze, this was crap. Nothing but more of Frank Miller spouting off his radical political views, but with even less subtlety of the original.

OK - let the negative personal shots begin

 

tjanson 1/30/2013 10:02:57 AM

Cap...yeah Duh!  Mark Hammil.  That's what you get when you're racing to get something done!  LOL.  ObiWanna...I know what you mean about Miller but I thought the director did a good job of capturing the spirit of the story while keeping Miller's political beliefs to the minimum.

Muenster 1/30/2013 8:08:01 PM

This was pretty darn good. It was just like the comic book. Peter Weller's voice work was fantastic!

wish 1/31/2013 8:53:28 AM

I absolutely loved both parts and I am really hoping they actually move forward and do The Dark Knight Strikes Again!  Which is just as good as Returns only they expand the DC universe a little more and show us some of the other happenings while everybody got old.  DC's animation films are awesome, I think the people in charge of the animations need to be more vocal on the live-action stuff.  There is a fearless approach to animated movies that I wish would prevail more in live-action films, like The Clone Wars, easily better than any of the prequel trilogy because it isn't afraid to go off on tangents that might not be so well known to the masses, and yet, the success comes from delivering a solid product vs giving people mediocrity in the form of familiarity!!

 

doublec 1/31/2013 10:35:40 PM

 Easily the best DC cartoon yet. Well done and shockingly violent (as it should be). And even though they left out the boy scouts they included Bruno!

irockdiesel 2/1/2013 8:49:40 AM

I enjoyed this one as well. The level of violence was more than I had expected since the animated features prior had cut the blood down considerately. Even though Peter Weller does a satisfying job as Batman, I will wish they would have gotten Michael Ironside. He provided the voice of the elder Batman when Batman: The Animated Series did their take on this. All in all, pretty good.

jorson28 2/2/2013 10:43:12 AM

I enjoyed it, but not as much as this reviewer did, and for the record, I don't think you'd be describing Superman as "ultra right-wing" if the president he serves in the movie wasn't a take on Ronald Reagan (per the comics) - nor do I think the character would have been depicted so negatively if that president looked like Obama.   I don't really care if the material takes a certain political stance, but it could at least be consistent. Does nobody remember that in the first part, it was Batman that was being called a Fascist?  Excessive government power and control is as much or more a staple of LEFT-WING ideology - the idea that "the people" are incapable of truly taking care of themselves, so an empowered national government micromanages the society from a centralized seat of power.  As it is, however, most of the issues and characteristics that would really justify said labels are absent from the depictions here, and what's left is a ridiculous, pseudo-apocalyptic depiction of Reagan's "Star Wars" concept that everyone always knew was nothing more than a bluff... a bluff that WORKED insomuch as it spooked the USSR to overplay its hand and prove that it could not compete in a cold war and still fulfill the promise of Communism.  As for the movie, itself, I'm not sure the excessive violence adds anything - at least in the scenes with the Joker.  Even if it is the whole point, I wasn't too keen on seeing Joker basically go on a suicide mission just to get Batman to "lose control," especially AFTER Batman has managed to make himself public enemy number 1 without Joker's help.  Anyone can run through a crowd shooting bystanders, but Joker is supposed to be a master-criminal with cunning and tricks up every sleeve.  The Superman-Batman fight is cool to watch, and I'm definitely a Batman fan, but as depicted, I'm not sure why either side - perceived government oppression or mob rule - would be more appealing.  After all, it isn't "the people" that take control, but Batman, Robin and Green Arrow that use the gangs as foot soldiers to tame the streets after the EMP.  At least a President, even Ronald Reagan, is elected to wield power.    

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