The Ninjabot

The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1 review

Posted on October 4, 2012 at 9:14 am by David "Snackbar" Edmundson

The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1 is an animated film based on the Frank Miller graphic novel of the same name.  I’ll Start out by telling you up front that Frank Miller’s graphic novel was the first comic I ever received, and it is responsible for my love of both comics, and Batman.  The Comic is being broken up into 2 films, with part2 being released early next year.  Minor spoilers below…

The Dark Knight Returns takes place in the near future.  Batman has not been seen in 10 years, after his disappearance following the death of Jason Todd who was filling the role of Robin at the time.  Batman’s absence has paved the way for a group of criminals called The Mutants to take over the streets of Gotham.  They terrorize citizens through theft and murder, and are led by a madman simply called the Mutant Leader.  When Harvey Dent is released from Arkham at the strong urging of Bruce Wayne and quickly returns to his criminal ways, Batman has to don the cape and cowl once again to save the day.  It is on this same night that Batman saves a young Carrie Kelley, who upon seeing her hero is inspired to pick up the mantle of Robin.  After an epic battle, she proves her worth and is brought into the Bat-family.

The animation is amazing in this film.  The use of shadows is reminiscent of The Animated Series, and adds to the overall appeal of Batman.  What also adds to the use of shadows is the flashes of light sprinkled in for effect.  Be it a strike of lightning or a flash of gunfire, when you get a momentary glimpse of Batman it is really great.  The characters are drawn and aged great and Gotham feels lived in and decrepit.  The voice acting is also top notch with Peter Weller (Robocop) playing Batman, Ariel Winters (Modern Family) playing Carrie, and David Selby (Social Network) playing Commissioner Gordan. They all lend their individual talents and personalities to the project and their performances come through the screen extremely well.  The film is also very faithful to the original graphic novel with the overall story remaining the same while changing very little.

My only gripes are that the news segments don’t live up to the rest of the film.  They are meant to be the information dump and exposition factory, but I think they could have been executed a little better.  My other problem was the length of the film.  If you are going to break up the film into two parts that is fine, but you should only do so because the total length would be too long.  The running time on The Dark Knight Returns is only 75 minutes.  So if we assume that part 2 is a similar length then we would have a total running time of 2 hours and 30 minutes.  I think the longer run time would have been preferable to forcing us to buy two films with shorter running times.   It seems like a cash grab to me, but Warner Bros. knows that if they slap Dark Knight on the box, it will sell.

Overall, I think the film is great and worth checking out.  The animation and voice acting are top notch, and it is faithful to the comic.  If you were a fan of the graphic novel, you will love the film.

Snackbar’s grade:  A-

You can follow Snackbar on Twitter @Snackie_Cakes

    • thejerd

      I agree with the running time, one of my two complaints was that it felt like the story was a bit rushed. Maybe more time spent on the news segments would have made it feel more fleshed out?

      My second gripe was the lack of the inner monologue that is the major story-telling element of the comic. I think you lose *a lot* without it.

    • They also cut our the hot nazi chick with the swastikas over her fun parts. I was sad to see her no included.

      • thejerd

        I think they are dong some creative cutting to get the story to fit into two parts.

        I think they are leaving all the Joker and Superman stuff for the second half.

    • Tommy

      Pretty accurate review. I'd recommend waiting for part 2. I'm sure there will be a sale if you get both or a box set. All I'm all though it was a good flick.

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