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Warner Premiere and DC Comics have topped themselves with the Blu-ray / DVD release of "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1." After the release of "Batman: Year One," the only logical choice for the Caped Crusader''s next solo animated feature was evident. It was time for Frank Miller''s other beloved and critically acclaimed graphic novel to be adapted for the screen. Frank Miller''s "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" not only had an effect on the entire comic book industry, it influenced director Tim Burton to make a serious film adaptation based on the super hero that turned into a multi-billion dollar franchise. Many fans and historians would say it is responsible for the popularity of comic book movies today. It''s been ten years since Batman''s last appearance in Gotham City. Bruce Wayne has retired the cape and cowl for a life of tedium and drinking. He meets occasionally with Commissioner Gordon for drinks and to talk about the state of the world. Gordon knows Wayne''s secret and is one of his only confidants. Bruce begins having horrible nightmares about his parents'' deaths and witnesses Gotham City digress even further into the depths of depravity at the hands of a new criminal syndicate calling themselves the Mutants. He''s driven to suit up once again to take on the homicidal maniacs and show the citizens of Gotham City that they need not live in fear any longer. "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1" is the best animated feature film DC and Warner Premiere have released. There''s no other way of putting it. It feels epic and holds a cinematic flare that the other entries in the DC animated super hero movie franchise haven''t accomplished. That''s not to say they aren''t good or worthy of praise. However, this takes the medium to a whole new level. The animation is top notch and, although it doesn''t mimic Frank Millers artwork for the book, there''s a certain respect towards the unique style of the illustrations reflected in the film. Batman is larger than life and as bulky as the Hulk, but isn''t quite as "abstract" as Miller''s interpretation of him in the graphic novel. This is as close to a perfect representation of the book as I can imagine. My only complaint is that there are a few spots where the plot jumps around a bit and gets a little hard to follow. They jump from one thing to the next so quickly with brief or no explanation. The viewer is left to just keep up and embrace the fast pacing once the movie gets rolling. Peter Weller does a wonderful job bringing an older and weary Bruce Wayne to life. When he hits the streets for the first time in ten years, you can hear the satisfaction in his voice at re-embracing his long-forgotten mission of ridding the streets of Gotham City of the filth and crime that overtakes it. The Blu-ray version of "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1" consists of quite a few treats for fans. There''s a sneak peek of Part 2 and "Batman / Superman: Public Enemies." Two featurettes are included entitled "Batman and Me: The Bob Kane Story" and "Her Name is Carrie... Her Role is Robin." There are also two bonus cartoons from "Batman: The Animated Series" featured. A section of the "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" digital comic is found as well. "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1" will be the animated feature all future entries into the DC franchise will be measured by. They''ve set the bar high with this one. With a spectacular looking and sounding high-definition movie experience and some satisfying special features, this is a recommended purchase for all super hero fans.
The Dark Knight Returns (part one) is based on the legendary and absolutely awesomely epic graphic novel set in a future Gotham where Batman has long since retired. Crime rates are at an all time high, a gang called The Mutants is terrorizing the streets and Commissioner Gordon is tearing out what is left of his hair as he counts down the last few days until his retirement.
Into all this comes the Batman. For too long he has sat on the benches. Now it is time to make the evil scum of the city afraid of him once more...
And so, The Dark Knight Returns...
When this first started, I'll admit I was a little unsure. The opening scenes with Bruce Wayne risking life to compete in a deadly car race felt a little contrived and looked a little too cartoony. But when I eventually got used to the style of animation, which is true to the graphic nature of the book, what I realised was this: this was the Batman movie I had been waiting for!
It really is the best depiction of a graphic novel onto the screen that I have EVER seen!Even if you are unfamiliar with the comic, there is lots here to enjoy and truly this is one of the best Batman stories ever written. I love the fact that all the details from the graphic novel are correct and nothing is changed! For example, the cartoon makes mention of deceased former Robin, Jason Todd - something which could oh so easily have been cut when this transferred to film. The fact that the makers have refused to do so shows how dedicated they are to making this the truest adaptation of a Batman story that I have ever seen.
This first part deals almost exclusively with Batman's war with The Mutants and his need to prove himself after so long away. Villain Two-Face makes a nice return as a "cured" Harvey Dent and there are lots of nice nods to the fans.
This is a cartoon that is strictly NOT for Kids! With a soundtrack that sounds take straight from an 80's John Carpenter movie and extreme violence throughout, the strong themes contained within mean this is one for adults only!This too is in keeping with the graphic novel!
Overall then if you were at all disappointed by Nolan's trilogy in any way (as so many fans were) then this is the film YOU need to see!
Personally I can't wait for part two! Not least because I know what's coming next.....
The Dark Knight Returns is widely regarded as one of the greatest Batman stories ever told, but was it a wise move for DC to adapt this story to the animated medium? Personally I would have to say that it was.
As the title suggests Dark Knight Returns: Part One is an adaptation of the first few stories from the comic book. Similar to Dark Knight Rises it sees a long retired Bruce Wayne struggling to find purpose in a still chaotic Gotham City. The news on the street is that plastic surgery has cured Harvey Dent of his neuroses; Jim Gordon is retiring from the force, and a mischievous Gang of teenagers calling themselves The Mutants have declared war on the streets of Gotham City.
When Harvey Dent seems to return to his life of crime, and more people are murdered by The Mutants, then the time arrives for Bruce Wayne to don his cape and cowl and once again become a symbol for the people of Gotham City.
Now it has to be stated outright that a lot of the psychological aspects of this story have been lost in its transition to a medium that frowns upon constant inner monologues. Nevertheless there is a lot to love in the way the story has been adapted, and in a lot ways it has benefited from the transition.
Most notably the artwork is now a lot better than it was under Millers Pen. The animation team behind Dark Knight Returns have gone a long way to keep the moody larger than life visuals of the Miller comic, but have done so without sacrificing the high quality artwork that the DC animated films have been known for. There efforts have really paid off as scenes of Batman crashing down on his unsuspecting foes are as dizzyingly intense as they always should have been, and the brutal showdowns with the Mutant Leader will leave you breathless!
However what really proves to lift this film above the comics are the spectacular efforts of the voice actors, whose passionate performances really fit the tone of this story. Peter Weller's (Robocop) voice sent shivers down my spine as he recreated the voice of an aged angry Batman like he was born for the role. Meanwhile Gary Anthony Williams gave a thunderous performance as the Mutant Leader. These two actors turned their characters into a couple of fearsome Titans and went a long way towards making their battles as intense as they were.
Intense battles they were too! A lot of dark and moody fun is just waiting to be had in The Dark Knight Returns. It is an excellent adaptation of a classic story with just the right degree of pacing. By limiting the story to the first half of the book the writers have been able to keep the plotting tight and the suspense ramped up. Plus they are able to pave the way to the sequel thanks to a killer cliffhanger!