Warner Premiere and DC Comics have topped themselves with the Blu-ray / DVD release of “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1.” After the release of “Batman: Year One,” the only logical choice for the Caped Crusader’s next solo animated feature was evident. It was time for Frank Miller’s other beloved and critically acclaimed graphic novel to be adapted for the screen.
Frank Miller’s “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” not only had an effect on the entire comic book industry, it influenced director Tim Burton to make a serious film adaptation based on the super hero that turned into a multi-billion dollar franchise. Many fans and historians would say it is responsible for the popularity of comic book movies today.
It’s been ten years since Batman’s last appearance in Gotham City. Bruce Wayne has retired the cape and cowl for a life of tedium and drinking. He meets occasionally with Commissioner Gordon for drinks and to talk about the state of the world. Gordon knows Wayne’s secret and is one of his only confidants.
Bruce begins having horrible nightmares about his parents’ deaths and witnesses Gotham City digress even further into the depths of depravity at the hands of a new criminal syndicate calling themselves the Mutants. He’s driven to suit up once again to take on the homicidal maniacs and show the citizens of Gotham City that they need not live in fear any longer.
“Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1” is the best animated feature film DC and Warner Premiere have released. There’s no other way of putting it. It feels epic and holds a cinematic flare that the other entries in the DC animated super hero movie franchise haven’t accomplished. That’s not to say they aren’t good or worthy of praise. However, this takes the medium to a whole new level.
The animation is top notch and, although it doesn’t mimic Frank Millers artwork for the book, there’s a certain respect towards the unique style of the illustrations reflected in the film. Batman is larger than life and as bulky as the Hulk, but isn’t quite as “abstract” as Miller’s interpretation of him in the graphic novel. This is as close to a perfect representation of the book as I can imagine.
My only complaint is that there are a few spots where the plot jumps around a bit and gets a little hard to follow. They jump from one thing to the next so quickly with brief or no explanation. The viewer is left to just keep up and embrace the fast pacing once the movie gets rolling.
Peter Weller does a wonderful job bringing an older and weary Bruce Wayne to life. When he hits the streets for the first time in ten years, you can hear the satisfaction in his voice at re-embracing his long-forgotten mission of ridding the streets of Gotham City of the filth and crime that overtakes it.
The Blu-ray version of “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1” consists of quite a few treats for fans. There’s a sneak peek of Part 2 and “Batman / Superman: Public Enemies.” Two featurettes are included entitled “Batman and Me: The Bob Kane Story” and “Her Name is Carrie… Her Role is Robin.” There are also two bonus cartoons from “Batman: The Animated Series” featured. A section of the “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” digital comic is found as well.
“Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1” will be the animated feature all future entries into the DC franchise will be measured by. They’ve set the bar high with this one. With a spectacular looking and sounding high-definition movie experience and some satisfying special features, this is a recommended purchase for all super hero fans.