“The Dark Knight Returns Part 2” Review

jason January 28, 2013 1
“The Dark Knight Returns Part 2” Review

When we last left the caped crusader, he came out of retirement around the age of 55, recruited a new female Robin, and pummeled the leader of the “Mutant” gang. Not too shabby for someone on the cusp of senior discounts. Even though crime in Gotham is declining and the remaining gangs are gasping for air, America is at war with Russia. Since Barman is more of a conscientious objector with a strict anti-gun mentality, he usually keeps his nose out of political affairs. Superman on the other had, will – his motto was at one time, after all, “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.”

This is going to be hard to review since it’s a continuation of the Frank Miller adaptation, “Dark Knight Returns: Part 1.” The terrific voice acting, slick animation, and better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be score is consistent with the first film. The technical aspects of this film are cart-blanch when it comes to criticism. The adaptation is also so close to the source material, to review it will only really critique the source material itself… which I guess is what I’m about to do.

There have been many incarnations of Batman. Nolan’s Batman attempted to stay a few steps away from reality, while the Justice League’s Batman was a seemingly invincible ultra genius that battled aliens alongside Superman and the Green Lantern. The “Dark Knight Returns” version of Batman starts out somewhere in the middle. He’s not invincible and drives a clunky bat tank instead of the bat mobile. Part 1 did a great job of creating an atmosphere and showing us the boundaries of physics in this DC universe. It was several steps away from reality, but it was hard to imagine a Superman existence in it. So when Batman puts on a suit that helps his lift cars over his head, it took me out of the movie for a minute.

“Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2” is much larger in scope than Part 1. Earth is on the verge of another world war, Gotham is plagued by a city-wide riot after a blackout caused by a nuclear explosion, and Superman fights Batman in the center of main street. It’s an incredibly epic finale for the Batman mythos (if you so choose it to be).

So why am I feeling so… empty?

I highly enjoyed it, but I didn’t get the same amount of enjoyment from Part 2 that I did from Part 1. Maybe it was the scale. This movie had such a large scale that smaller details suffered. Character development had to take a slight sidestep to capture just how grandiose the story was. I kind of missed seeing Batman battle though moral decisions and inner turmoil. … Nah, that wasn’t it. It was something else and I even felt the same way throughout the comic book.

You know what it was? The Joker.

Joker and Batman’s final battle takes place in this movie and it is fantastic. It’s exactly as twisted and brutal as it should be and it’s everything I’ve ever wanted to see in this legendary showdown. Joker and Batman’s relationship is one of the stronger bonds in comic book history. It’s a twisted dichotomy that’s almost symbiotic. But this fight happens around the halfway point, and once that’s over, it’s just Superman vs. Batman.

Superman was never all that interesting to me as he seemingly has no flaws and his reasons for fighting Batman are never that compelling. Joker, on the other hand, is the clown prince of crime and kills Conan O’Brian. He’s as interesting as Batman for totally different reasons. He’s the yin to Batman’s yang, hence why they work so well together. Batman punching Superman will always be cool, but it will never compare to the end of one of, if not the greatest, rivalries in the history of superhero fiction.

Extra Bat-Bits and Super-Tids

  • Reading back on this review, it’s not really a review.
  • Joker was voiced by Michael Emerson, who just so happens to be one of the best parts of the show “Lost.” I’m still waiting for the “Lost” spin-off with Hurly and Ben Linus taking care of the island in an “Odd Couple”-like format.
  • Joining Emerson as the voice of the Joker are Mark Hammill (“Batman: The Animated Series”), Jeff Bennett (“Batman: The Brave and the Bold”), and John DiMaggio AKA Bender (“Batman: Under the Red Hood”).
  • This is by far my nerdiest review yet.
  • I haven’t watched Part 1 and Part 2 as one 150-minute movie, but I’m going to assume I’ll like it better than “The Dark Knight Rises.”

One Comment »

  1. Jon January 28, 2013 at 7:41 pm -

    I thought this was overall a solid adaptation but I don’t think splitting it really helped story wise. The second film just doesn’t feel like a satisfying narrative on its own. Some movies have done a good job making each part satisfying on its own while being part of a series (Lord of the Rings, Kill Bill) some just feel like extended money grabs (last two Potter movies, this). Would like to see a full length version of this release without the split.