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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Oct. 1: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: Part I


Oct. 1: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: Part I

"Batman has not been seen for ten years. A new breed of criminal ravages Gotham City, forcing 55-year-old Bruce Wayne back into the cape and cowl. But, does he still have what it takes to fight crime in a new era?"
Directed by: Jay Oliva, Rated: PG-13, 76 minutes

Every year, Warner Bros. Animation makes a movie inspired by some of the greatest DC heroes and comics and each year they get better. This time around, WB adapted Frank Miller's classic graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns, a novel many consider to be the one of the best versions of Batman ever to exist. Embracing the darkest themes of the Dark Knight and running with it, this version of Batman pushes the limits of his character, his strength, and his moral code. It's the closest Batman ever gets to killing someone, and the rage that consumes him is like nothing we've seen before. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1 is incredible. 

Along with Watchmen, this is the greatest superhero graphic novel of all time (in my opinion). 

The film follows Bruce Wayne (Peter Weller) much later in life. Years of being Batman have taken a toll on him, mentally and physically, and he retired the cowl years ago. Now 55 years old, the man sees Gotham fall into chaos again, as a gang called the Mutants have taken over the city. Led by their brute of a leader, simply called the Mutant Leader, Gotham has become a shadow of what it was, with people fearing to walk the streets at night as crime is at every corner. After Bruce sees how bad the city has gotten, and how out of control the Mutants are getting, he decides to take back his cape and cowl and hit the streets once again. As the public grows more fearful of what's become of the city, Batman's resurgence is also put to question, posing the question if he's better for the city or a criminal like the men he fights. Also, a young girl named Carrie Kelly (Ariel Winter), also sees how bad things have become and buys a cheap Robin costume, hoping to help Batman fight the scum on the streets. 

Yes, lady and gents, we have a lady-Robin. 

There's so much to love about this movie and it's a shame it only clocks in at 76 minutes. We see Batman aged and rugged, and much meaner than what we're used to. He's sick at what his city has become (again), and he really pushes the limits of how far he'll go to take down a bad guy. Multiple times he pulverizes someone, almost to death, and the rage behind him comes out in a very violent fashion. Had this story been made into a live-action film, it most certainly would be rated R. As we see this older Batman, we also get to see all sorts of new gadgets he has in his belt. While I may be going out on a limb with it, I'm fairly certain that he uses Scarecrow's fear gas and some weapon of Clayface's, showing you that he's adapted over the years. There are also plenty of other references to the DC universe, including mentions of Jimmy Olsen, Lana Lang, multiple Robins, and we see Harvey Dent as well. As many years have past, all of these familiar characters have changed over time, and it's very interesting to see what's become of them all. 

Even Commissioner Gordon returns, looking like some Civil War hero gone rogue (fried chicken may be involved). 

Whenever Warner Bros. releases another one of these animations, I buy them the day of release without any knowledge of whether they're good or not. I really have trust in them, along with DC, that they will continue to produce quality films, and The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1, is really the best one yet. The voice acting is terrific, the animation is beautiful and dark, and it's glorious seeing the legendary graphic novel play out on screen. Frank Miller's creation is faithfully adapted and the Gotham we see is one we feel for. We've been with Batman (and Bruce) for so long, seeing him struggle and border the fine line between hero and villain is heart-wrenching. This film is a must see for anyone that's even the smallest fan of Gotham's Finest. You will not be disappointed. 

The Good:
a faithful adaptation of the greatest version of Batman ever seen in comic book form, showcasing the violence and destruction The Dark Knight carries around him
The Bad:
It's only 72 minutes, but it is just the first part with the second on the way next year
The Ugly:
wondering if this story could ever make the transition to a live-action film, but knowing no studio would have the balls to make an R-rated Batman movie

Overall: 8.7/10


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At October 2, 2012 at 10:25 AM , Anonymous Max said...

I'm a big fan of Batman, so I'm excited to give this a look!

At October 2, 2012 at 10:27 AM , Blogger Nick said...

You won't be disappointed!


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