By: Bob Marshall
The Dark Knight Returns is a story that was written by Frank Miller and is arguably considered the greatest Graphic Novel of all-time. Released in 1986 its a story of a 55-year-old Bruce Wayne who comes out of retirement to fight crime, along the way he encounters some old enemies and some old friends who would be foes. This film is the long anticipated second and final part of the story.
**As always with my reviews I will try to avoid spoilers where possible
Finally the second part of the Dark Knight Returns has arrived and my god does it pack a punch.
In my review for Part 1 I stated that (controversially), I thought it was better than Frank Miller’s book. Well now that I’ve seen Part 2 together I do feel that this is better than Frank Miller’s classic comic book. The main reasons for this (at least for me) are:
– the removal of the inner monologues: of course there has to be thought boxes for the characters in comics but as we’ve seen before it doesn’t work as well in animation (Batman: Year One). But my main problem with the inner monologues in Frank Milkers book were that Batman cane across as a real douche bag and I didn’t like that one bit so thankfully we don’t have to worry about that in the two films.
– less confusing: I personally found Miller’s book a little hard to follow at times, dialogue is under or above panels and sometimes it was hard to know who was talking (I’m not the only one who thought this. I gave a copy to my friend to read and he said the same thing)
– Superman’s portrayal: he’s pretty much the same aside from a few key moments but more on that a little later.
Now the tone if the film is actually quite different from the first part it doesn’t seem quite as dark but that may just be due to more colourful characters appearing i.e. The Joker and Superman. This is not a negative at all, the film is still very dark but it just has that bit more colour to it.
I said in my review for the first film that it did not stop hitting you with awesome moment after awesome moment. This film is no different, it hits you with not only awesome action but also great character moments be it Batman, Robin, Alfred, Superman, the Joker and Jim Gordon.
Something that shocked me was the violence in the film. There’s quite a bit of blood especially in the Batman’s showdown with the Joker, which is such an integral part if this story. There are some really tense scenes with the Joker and some truly shocking moments. This is the Clown Prince if Crime at his darkest in animation.
One if the final things I wanted to touch on was about the character who is closest to my heart, Superman. I thought the book made Superman into a government puppet, he still had some really awesome moments but the fact that he was a yes guy to the President really irked me. In this film however it seemed to be toned down and you can actually see why Superman would serve his country. In fact he even explains why in the film, he feels it’s not his work to do as he feels therefore he serves humanity. Even though this is a Batman picture, Superman by far got the coolest moments in the film. (SPOILERS: there’s a great scene where he turns up to confront Batman in Gotham. Whilst he’s at it he goes around the city doing Super saves, in the greatest moment he saves a blind guy from being hit by a train. All we see is a blur of colours followed by Superman’s hand prints embedded in the from of the train. I tell you I got goosebumps. END SPOILERS). The tension in this film as it comes towards Batman’s inevitable showdown with the Man of Steel and trust me in their final battle you will not be disappointed at all. Lastly on Superman I was so glad we got the yellow S on the back of the cape, in fact there are some scenes it us vital it is there, you’ll know what I mean when you see it.
The ending of this film is up there with Superman vs the Elite as one of the greatest animated endings ever. If you have read the comic you know what to expect but it is still very awesome.
Lastly I would highly recommend watching the two films back to back as I feel running it together as a complete story is the best way to view it. Is it too much to ask WB for an ultimate cut?
The animation is as good as the first part, it is once again very much like the comic panel for panel. The animation is at its best in the action moments, especially in the final scene. It flows superbly in that fight between Batman and Superman. Unlike the first film I can’t think of any negatives with the animation at all.
There is a certain scene involving Superman and a nuke, and the animation here is incredible. I think they used a mix if CG and and drawn and it works incredibly well. I won’t go into details but people who’ve read the book will know which scene I am talking about.
I said all there is to say about the returning cast from Part 1 but in this film we have several new voices. Michael Emerson is a perfect Joker, he’s very sinister and one if the best casting choices of any of the DC Universe line. I’m not really sure what I thought of Robin Atkins Downes as Oliver Queen. One things for sure he showed his versatility as a voice actor. The standout though was Mark Valley as Superman, he just suits this version of the Man of Steel down to a T. He expressed a confidence that only Superman has, yet he also has a softness that he cared aswell. He was just perfect and stole the show.
I think they mostly reused Christopher Drakes score from Part 1 here but you’ll get no complaints from me at all. Superman even had a hint of his own theme which was really effective in certain scenes.
Blu Ray and Extras
I have yet to see the Blu Ray and its Extras as I watched this on Amazon online. However, I have seen the sneak peak for Superman: Unbound and it looks incredible. It stars Matthew Bomer as Clark Kent / Superman who as we may remember was Brett Ratner’s pick to play Superman in the abandoned Superman Flyby and he even portrayed the Man of Steel on some Japanese Toyota commercials. Other cast members are John Noble as Brainiac, Stana Katic as Lois Lane and Molly Quinn as Supergirl.
Much like Part 1 this actually felt like a feature film unlike other entries into the DC Universe line (not that that’s a negative for previous releases). I think this alongside Part 1 have to be the greatest releases yet from the DC Universe line. The Dark Knight Returns Parts 1 & 2 have really set the bar very high for future releases.
Overall Grade: 10/10