Reviews: The Dark Knight Returns

Holy Bat crap, the best superhero animated movie bar none

Batman The Dark Knight Returns is a seminal, highly valued work considered instrumental to not only the Batman mythos but The Dark Age Of Comic Books as well. In 2012 the story was animated, and what a ride it is. For several years Warner Brothers have been producing high quality superhero animated movies, and the two part adaptation of the comic is by far the best yet.

The story by Frank Miller is Bruce Wayne had long since retired after The Joker killed Jason. However a new gang becomes so vicious he is forced to once again become Batman, followed by a new Robin. However since he retired superheros have been seen as a nuisance, and Superman being the elite soldier to enforce the American way is set on a collision course with Batman, who is seen as an embarrassment to those in power.

As far as the storywriting goes the films do an excellent job of copying Miller's works and cleaning up not only the art from the printed format but slight editing and tweaks to the written word make for a tighter, more watchable movie. Certain plot elements and scenes are restructured and edited to flow better, and to the film's credit none of the confronting scenes the comic is renowned for have been lost: we still get Bruno the Nazi transvestite and Joker snapping his own neck before bursting in flames, in fact the massacre is made even worse. The Take That against America and the evil zombie Ronald Reagan angle had been toned down in favor of Oliver Queen wanting revenge for Superman crippling him, and the myth of Batman and the hope he inspires in Gotham.

The stylized art is nice, they weren't going for a hyper realistic appearance, it looks like a comic. The animation is beautiful, and the pacing and cuts are just right. And with the cleaned up art some of the more surreal elements (Joker's henchmen and the dolls, an old Selina and what Joker does to her) works.

The music is suitably epic and draws on creating something original rather than taking it's cues from other works ala the Arkham series that draw inspiration from other Batman scores. Likewise no problems with the vocal talent, Frank Welker is believable as Batman and Gordon is the right mix of soft and hard.

These films are an excellent 'what if' story that fit brilliantly with the current view of Batman, right up there with The Dark Knight and Arkham City and fans would be well served to check them out.