After ten years in retirement, Bruce Wayne (voiced by Peter Weller) dons the mantle of the bat for one final chance to save Gotham city.
Based on the acclaimed graphic novel by Frank Miller, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is by far the best of the DC animated films. It is also the darkest, hewing extremely close the origin material, and as such, this is NOT a film for children. The concepts at play in the film, as in the graphic novel, are dark and adult oriented. Violent. This is a mature animated feature and is simply amazing.
Having been forced into retirement after the death of Jason Todd, Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement after Harvey Dent, also known as Two-Face, is released from a mental hospital, his face finally fixed thanks to donations from Bruce. Of course, Two-Face cannot see that he is finally whole and believes that they scarred the other side of his face rather than fix the scarred side. This delusion and what Two-Face does pulls Bruce out of retirement. Soon, everything spirals out of control as he cannot put the suit back and takes on a group of street thugs known as the Mutants. Eventually, The Joker comes into play as does Superman, who is sent by the President of the United States of America to stop the bat.
Many, many articles have been written about the significance of this story. As the years go on, many more will be written. A product of its time, The Dark Knight Returns is one of, if not the best, stories ever written. Not just in comic book or graphic novel form. It is a unique, inspired piece of writing and art that is a deconstruction of the Cold War through the veil of superheroes. It is just as noteworthy and significant as Watchmen, perhaps even more so.
Translating that adult story to an animated film had me frightened. It is dark. It is adult. It deals with themes and issues that were far above what was normally seen in comics. Obviously, many elements of this story have been lifted and used in other films, including the upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The animated film is a truncated version of the story, but not much so. At an insane 2 and a half hours, this is a long film that will pass in a blink.
I loved every minute of this film. I bought it for my son, thinking he might enjoy it. He didn’t care even a little bit. As I watched it, though, I was very glad he didn’t pay any attention. I ran into the problem with this that many parents will have. It is animated. It must be watered down for children. WRONG! I cannot stress that enough. This is a VERY dark story with very adult themes. This is NOT of children.
**** out of ****
NOTE: This is a short review for this film. It is intentional. My purpose was to make known that this is a phenomenal piece of animated filmmaking and deserves to be seen. I didn’t want to delve too deeply into the actual film, for those of you not familiar with the tale being told. It is a special story that should not be ruined by a reviewer. If it is, it will not be by me.
BIZZAM!! Fun Facts!
- This film was originally released in two parts. You can still get each part individually, but I would suggest getting the Deluxe version which is one complete film with a plethora of special features.