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    Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1

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    Paeter
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    Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1

    Post  Paeter on October 29th 2012, 8:03 pm

    A few weeks ago, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 was released on Blu-ray and DVD. If you're a serious comic book fan, you've probably already read or at least heard of the original graphic novel by Frank Miller. Along with Alan Moore's Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns was one of the most influential comic books of the 80's, and gets much of the credit for the launch of the "gritty era" of comic books, which continued through much of the 90's and still leaves traces today. This animated movie attempts to adapt and condense the original story into a two-part movie series.

    The story takes place 10 years after Bruce Wayne has retired from being Batman. There are suggestions that his retirement has something to do with a tragedy that befell Robin. Wayne is now at least in his 50s, although he remains in great shape for his age and busies himself with dangerous hobbies, such as automobile racing. He is clearly unsettled and still haunted by the deaths of his parents, and as a new breed of criminal takes hold of a spineless Gotham, he finds the ghosts of his past pulling him back into the persona he left behind.

    While the citizens of Gotham are either victimized or willfully ignorant, Batman resumes his one-man war on the criminal element, and with more grit and ferocity than ever before. But although Batman is a supernatural creature of legend, Bruce Wayne is just a man, and his aging, battered body continually reminds him of the fact. It may be that this new breed of criminal is more than he can handle.

    This is a great story with some of the most iconic Batman moments you're likely to encounter on screen. Paraphrasing to avoid offense, Frank Miller said that with this story he "gave Batman his [manhood] back". And that's certainly the sense this movie gives. Batman is more brutal and tough than ever and he is rightfully feared by criminals.

    But this is not just a "tough guy" movie. An argument could be made that this is the most character-driven Batman movie ever made, as we are given a glimpse into how truly haunted Bruce Wayne is by the tragic past he can't forget. For those who felt Bruce Wayne's final status in "The Dark Knight Rises" was inconsistent with the perpetually haunted nature of Bruce Wayne's character(at least as presented in the comics), this movie will feel like a satisfying follow-up, or maybe even a pseudo sequel, to the Christopher Nolan films.

    The visual design and animation is very well done. Although it has a slightly cleaner look than the art from the original comic, the color pallet helps maintain the bleak flavor, and the general scenery and character design strongly evokes the original art. The animation is also smooth when it should be, and more abrupt when appropriate. A skillful blend of both computer and cell animation that plays up the strengths of both.

    The sound was also well done, though I would have preferred just a little more of the lower tones. (Of course in home theaters this can be adjusted to taste.) And in the very first scene the dialogue falls so deep into the mix that I had to use subtitles to understand what was being said beneath the roaring sound effects.

    The music takes a cue from Nolan's recent Batman films with a grand, slow-moving strings melody representing Batman, aided by strong percussion and some electronic elements as well. A great score that gave weight to the entire experience.

    Once again, DC does a solid job with their voice casting and direction. Although they don't quite hit it out of the park. They fall back on using one or two familiar voices from the animation world (including at least one of the "animaniacs" if you're old enough to remember that show) that took me out of the story with their easily distinguishable voices. And Peter Weller, while a good choice for an aging Batman, was not a great choice in my opinion. I think the role would have been served better by simply casting the best fitting voice, rather than drawing from a pool of actors with star power or "geek cred", as this choice seems to be motivated by.

    The adaptation is done very well. Although it's been awhile since I've read my copy of The Dark Knight Returns, I didn't feel like anything important was missing. In fact, the adapters smartly removed much of the dated social/political commentary that was a product of the 80's.
    That said, there is still a noticeable theme of activism. It is frustrating to watch the people of Gotham shut themselves off in a self-serving corner as the world goes to pot at their doorstep. This movie screams out, "C'mon! Get up and DO something about this mess!" Batman and a precious few answer that call and viewers may feel a small desire to do so as well.

    The second part of The Dark Knight Returns will be released in early spring of 2013, but there's no reason not to watch or buy this movie in the meantime. Part 1 certainly leaves the impression that there is more story to be told, but doesn't end on a cliff-hanger either, and provides satisfying resolution to the first half of the larger story.

    Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of violence and action

    Quality: 9.0/10

    Relevance: 7.5/10




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    Drew.Rub

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    Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1

    Post  Drew.Rub on October 29th 2012, 10:13 pm

    So, I didn't see it available for rental at Redbox. Any ideas on when rentals will be available?

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    Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1

    Post  Paeter on October 29th 2012, 10:26 pm

    No idea. Sorry.


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    Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1

    Post  BenAvery on October 30th 2012, 1:52 pm

    I was disappointed to see no rental in Redbox as well.

    I'm wondering how this will stand up as a "trilogy" . . . Batman: Year One, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns 1, and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns 2.

    Maybe even fitting in Gotham Knights in there?

    I like that these animated movies are exploring the idea of Batman in these stand alone stories.

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    Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1

    Post  Paeter on October 30th 2012, 2:57 pm

    BenAvery wrote:

    I'm wondering how this will stand up as a "trilogy" . . . Batman: Year One, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns 1, and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns 2.

    Maybe even fitting in Gotham Knights in there?

    .

    I've been thinking the same thing, though I would possibly put "Under The Red Hood" in place of Gotham Knights, especially given its connection to the robin tragedy referenced in Dark Knight Returns.


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    Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1

    Post  BenAvery on October 30th 2012, 10:02 pm

    Ah, yes!

    Don't know why I didn't think of that. It was better than I expected . . .

    So the question is -- would the animated Batman movies that AREN'T tied directly to the Bruce Timm series make a nice WHOLE -- from Year One to Year Last?

    I think they would . . . part of me wants to go back and watch them before Dark Knights Returns.

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    Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1

    Post  Dunadwarf on October 31st 2012, 12:02 pm

    Man, did my girlfriend and I hate this movie. By the end we were just waiting for it to be over.
    I just can't stand post-modernism, and this movie is clogged with it. It breaks up the story with pointless little jabs at the media that aren't relevant to the story, and in fact actually take away from the moments, like when it looks like something terrible might have just happened to Commisioner Gordon, only to be followed up by a lame, lame little joke that actually ruined the emotion and suspense of the moment.
    The values are all over the place. Frank Miller keeps getting lauded for his complex characterizations, but all I see are pretentious little speeches and turning everything up to eleven all the time. That's not dark storytelling, it's a five-year-old talking about the rabbit who ate a million-billion-kajillion carrots and then barfed them all up and ate a million-billion-kajillion-fratrillion more! Ha ha ha ha!
    The potential for a good story was there, and I was with it at first. I rolled my eyes when we flashed back to the parents' deaths YET AGAIN, but then I relented when I saw that it was actually relevant here. This was about Bruce facing the ghosts of both his past as Batman and the ghosts that had made him Batman to begin with. That's fair.
    Then Frank Miller happened.
    Is this a look at vigilantism and the nature of law and order, where we ask how Batman is different than the criminals he fights? It talks about it, but ultimately Batman is right about everything and only the people who agree with Batman are right about anything. Even the big enemies here are an old villain stripped of all complexity and a thug so simplistic he makes Killer Croc look like Catwoman in comparison...in complexity I mean, not that anyone wants to see Croc in that outfit...yeesh!
    Is this a character study about Bruce vs. Batman and who he wants to be laid up against the needs of the city (the heart of "The Dark Knight Rises")? Again, the words are there, but there's no sense that Batman is pushing too hard or should return to his old life once he takes up the mantle, just the triumphant music while he breaks bones.
    Is this the story of a man not sure if he's doing what he's doing for the city or for his own vanity? The first few scenes might make you think so, but again, once he becomes Batman again, he's just right and good. No gray to it.
    If Miller had just wanted to tell a story of Batman triumphant, that's fine. We don't need to delve into Bruce's mind with every story. This could have been just a story about an old man fighting between revisiting the old glories and finding a new way to do what's right. It could have been a debate between law and order and justice and where the line is. Instead, it's just Sylvester Stallone's "Cobra" in a Batman suit with some pointless Weekend Update bits strewn throughout to ruin any sense of coherence.
    Sorry, but I'll take Bruce Timm's Batman series (and follow-ups) over this. I'll take Nolan's Batman stories over this anyday. I'll take Burton's. I'll even take Schumacher's Batman over this one. That's right, I went there;
    Worse than "Batman and Robin".

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    Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1

    Post  Rickster on November 15th 2012, 4:52 am

    BenAvery wrote:I was disappointed to see no rental in Redbox as well

    Some studios have a deal where Blockbuster and Cable's On Demand has the rights to rent their movies for 2 months before Netflix and Redbox can rent them so weight about * weeks after the relese date and see if Redbox has it then

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