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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Part 2

Title: Batman: The
Dark Knight Returns – Part 2

Rating: PG-13

MSRP: $19.98 DVD, $24.98 Blu-Ray

Production Company/Year: Warner
, DC Entertainment,
Warner Bros. Animation,

Director: Jay Oliva

Writer: Bob Goodman (Screenplay), Bob Kane (Characters), Frank Miller (Comic


Rating: 4/5

The Dark Knight along with new sidekick Robin have finally
reclaimed Gotham City and allowed a ray of hope to penetrate the reign of
terror that The Mutants had cast upon his city. With Batman back in the
spotlight the extended media coverage has awoken a far worse evil at Arkham
Asylum the Joker! Forever destined to be mortal enemies The Joker has a
diabolical scheme that may pull Batman down to the darkest levels of insanity.
While on the horizon a global catastrophe races towards Gotham and with it
comes a familiar face The Man of Steel though this time he has Batman in his
sights. Witness as the aging Dark Knight wages a tireless war against crime
while proving that courage and will are indeed timeless.

Taking up right where the last release left off, this one
picks up in the wake of Batman’s defeat of the Mutant gang which terrorized
Gotham citizens. Many of the youngsters have now taken to preying on criminals,
often in a harsh and fatal manner, and calling themselves “The Sons of Batman.”
The movie opens with Galaxy Communications President Lana Lang debating the virtues
of Batman’s return on a live talk show, which is being viewed at Arkham Asylum
by The Joker, who’s found a reason to smile after several years in a catatonic
coma. Joker laments to his psychiatrist Dr. Wolper (Michael McKean) about not
really having a chance to tell his side of the story regarding Batman, so the
Doc decides to book Joker on the David Endocrine show.

Right about the same time, a ceremony takes place where Jim
Gordon (David Selby) officially retires as police commissioner and passes the
position to Ellen Yindel (Maria Canals-Barrera), who makes her first act to
issue an arrest warrant for Batman on criminal charges. Meanwhile, in
Washington DC, The President speaks to Superman (AKA Agent Kent) about bringing
in Batman since all superhero activity is now banned in the U.S. Superman (Mark
Valley) says he’ll do his best.

Eventually, Clark Kent meets up with Bruce Wayne to discuss
Batman’s retirement, how and how someone will likely order Superman to finally
take down Batman once and for all. Bruce simply says when that happens, “May
the best man win.” Clark flies off as he’s called to help American forces fight
Soviets invading the South American island called Corto Maltese.

A lot of things are set up here. If you’re a fan of the
original graphic novel, you’ll likely enjoy this movie despite some of the
changes. The Joker’s escape is handled in a rather shocking and creepy manner.
TV host David Endocrine was originally done up as an obvious parody of David
Letterman, but here he’s drawn more like Conan O’brien, who voices the role
here. Michael Emerson (Person of Interest) does The Joker with a subtle nastiness.
I know many of you will be likely comparing him to Mark Hamill’s performance
over the years. Emerson sounds like a subdued killer clown (compared to
Hamill’s rendition) who’s been wanting a reason to feel alive again and you see
this in full during his battle with Batman. Peter Weller meanwhile, plays off
him and everyone else well as Batman, who comes off nastier than ever even as
Bruce Wayne. The only time his voice doesn’t quite perform well is during an
address to The Sons of Batman at one point, but he’s still pretty good.

Another performance that’s fun to hear is Jim Meskimen as
The U.S. President. If you read the comic, it’s rather obvious he’s drawn up to
be a parody of President Reagan, and Meskimen plays this aspect up perfectly.
It’s weird not to see this performance listed on, but he’s definitely
a highlight here. Actually, everyone does pretty well here thanks to voice
director Andrea Romano, but these voices were the ones who stood out most.

There’s also the overall direction here. I felt the pacing
for Part Two (covering issues 3 & 4 of the comic series) wasn’t quite as
good as for Part one, but the big events that are iconic to this story do play
out with style. The eventual battle between Batman and Superman is truly epic.
Director Jay Oliva takes advantage of the fact he’s got the two biggest heroes
in comic history going  at it and he
makes the most of this opportunity, making the action an all-out slugfest, more
devastating than the comic could depict. In this and other action scenes, Oliva
delivers handily.

So we come to the end of waiting for this mythos-changing
series to be adapted. As with any other production, there are some changes but
the story is still effective and worth purchasing. The DVD & Blu ray will
contains some cool extras like a look at Batman and Superman’s relationship,
and a decent selection of episodes from the Batman animated series. Very hapy
to see this includes “Legends of The Dark Knight” which shows the first
animated version of The Dark Knight Returns. There’s also a preview of
Superman: Unbound which adapts a Geoff Johns / Gary Frank comic about Superman
and Supergirl’s first encounter with Braniac.

To anyone who reads this wanting to see a complete ending to
Batman’s career, you could read the comic or buy this movie (and the first part
of course). Either way, you’re in for a pretty good time.

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