Movie Review – Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Part 1 & 2)

WARNING: Spoilers. There are plot giveaways in this review. (But nothing big so stop having a cry and read the damn review!)



IMDB Rating:

Part 1 – 7.9/10 (10,754 votes)

Part 2 – 8.1/10 (5,341 votes)

Director: Jay Oliva

So, as you may have already realised, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns came in two parts, so I’ll review both individually, but shortened, to save time and make sure you don’t lose precious concentration.

– Part 1 –

The poster for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns - Part 1

The poster for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Part 1

Well, I’ll be honest. I don’t know why I thought this was a little disappointing, but I did.

In theory, this film seems like the perfect Batman. Gritty, face-value action with some good dialogue and intense emotion. But I guess I just got a little…bored.

I didn’t like the mutant leader. I thought that “it” – as I’m still not sure what species of animal it was – was just too unrealistic for me to ever connect with. (I know it’s probably not right to compare these films to Nolan’s Batman films, so I’ll compare them with my favourite animated Batman films: Batman Beyond – in particular, Return of the Joker.) The thing that made BB so good was I really connected with all characters, villainous or heroic. I just didn’t care much for the evolved supermutant animal I believed the Mutant leader to be.

I was a bit disappointed with Ariel Winter’s character, Carrie Kelly/Robin. I thought her dialogue was a little bit laughable and her presence just felt unnecessary. And she was 13! WHAT WAS THAT!? There’s no way Bruce Wayne would hire a 13 year old girl to help him out. He’s in a constantly life-threatening position, for gods sake. Wise up, Brucey.

Grit those teeth, Brucey!

What are you smiling at, Mister Wayne?

Oliva and the screenwriter, Bob Goodman, really went for a “human” depiction of Harvey Dent, which I didn’t fully side with. Bartholemew Wolper was actually a good character in the end, and I enjoyed his presence, but really, you would never be stupid enough to deem The Joker and Harvey Dent “sane”, and treat them like they never did anything wrong.

And the Batmobile was a slow, clunky machine. I wasn’t a fan of that.

All in all, Part 1 wasn’t awful; a Batman film is a Batman film. And I love Batman films. It just wasn’t what it should have been. Most of the character-based premace just didn’t do it for me. And while it was well made & the soundtrack was awesome, my main problems with this film were preventable.

MY RATING: 5.5 out of 10.

– Part 2 –

The poster for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns - Part 2

The poster for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Part 2

The Dark Knight Returns: Part 2 was so much more satisfying than its predecessor.

Michael Emerson’s Joker blew me away. It was pretty damn fantastic. The banter between the Clown Prince of Crime and his archenemy was really enjoyable to listen to. Emerson brought a depth to the voice and had chemistry with Weller, who wasn’t awful himself.

Some will say that Gordon’s quick fall from grace was just bad narrative. But I disagree. I think the transition from Gordon to Yindel was appropriately subdued. The plot never really picked up on it after Gordon had left his post as Commish, which was fine because I found Gordon to be quite a helpless and weak character in comparison to other Batman films. Plus, Gordon had to go. He basically let the Mutants run the city in the first place. When you don’t do your job, you have to go. Duh.

The inclusion of Superman meant a whole new subplot within the main Joker/Batman feud. I liked how it fit in, actually. And Batman’s total distaste at Superman’s arrival made for enthralling on-screen tension and a pretty damn good fight, too. But the fight did, in its own way, glorify Batman as a Superhero. Getting a punch from Superman when you’re not Superman yourself would probably kill you, if we’re gonna be honest.

Fatass vs. Amazo-Cheekbone in the Gotham City snow.

Fat-ass vs. Amazo-Cheekbones in the Gotham City snow.

The Joker’s death, and the leadup in the Tunnel of Love was a beautiful sequence. I’m not sure what to think, though, because Batman kinda killed The Joker. BATMAN KILLED SOMEONE. I mean, Batman went all badass-nasty guy in this film. Didn’t mind that, though.

In terms of voices, though, Weller dropped off, and David Selby’s Gordon was never that good in the first place, even in Part 1. Winter did her part and so did Valley as Clark Kent.

To summarize, this film was much better than Part 1. I was enthralled in the score, the swift animation, the stellar script and on-screen conflict that made this an enjoyable experience all-up.

MY RATING: 7.5 out of 10.

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