The epic conclusion to Jay Oliva’s animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s classic comic series, The Dark Knight Returns Part II was released today on DVD and Blu-Ray. Starring Peter Weller as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Ariel Winter as Carrie Kelley/Robin, Michael Emerson as the Joker, and Mark Valley as Clark Kent/Superman, it is not one to missed!
The first installment, The Dark Knight Returns Part I, shows an older Bruce Wayne once again donning the cape and cowl of Batman after 10 years’ retirement, ending with Batman’s defeat of the Mutant Gang Leader and reclaiming of Gotham. The second installment picks up three months later, with splinter gangs wreaking havoc all over Gotham and Batman left to pick up the pieces. As he tries to restore order to his broken city, Batman has to contend with a new, antagonistic police commissioner, his old nemesis the Joker, and even the Man of Steel himself.
I have to say, I was a bit unimpressed with Part I. I was prepared for something more on the level of the amazing Batman: Year One and Batman: Under The Red Hood, and while Part I was good, it wasn’t great. The lack of voice-over was especially disappointing, as it is an integral part of the comic book. I could have gone for Weller’s Batman complaining about how he’s too old for this sh*t as he beats down some thugs.
Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised by Part II. While sticking to the original comic quite closely (including ripping some shots straight from its pages), there were some changes that really gave the film a more cinematic feel. The final battle between Batman and Superman felt even more epic than it had before, with a construction site providing additional arena for the two titans to duke it out. Batman makes damn sure Supes remembers that fight.
|Left: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 Right: The Dark Knight Returns|
Another reason I liked the second installment so much was that I felt it had much more of an emotional impact than the first. From the tear-jerking reunion of Jim and Sarah Gordon during the riots, to Emerson’s Joker’s horrific rampage through the fairgrounds, to the father-daughter dynamic of Batman and his new Robin, this film really packed an emotional punch you rarely see in animated fare.
The film retains the original ending, with (highlight to read spoilers) Batman faking his death and taking on a team of thugs to train into his own Bat-Army. Which, of course, begs the question of whether DC is planning to film a sequel to the film based on Miller’s follow-up series The Dark Knight Strikes Again.
A fine addition to the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series, The Dark Knight Returns Part II is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital download.