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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2(2013)
Batman along with new sidekick Robin have finally reclaimed Gotham City and allowed a ray of hope to penetrate the reign of terror that The Mutants had cast upon his city. With Batman back in the spotlight the extended media coverage has awoken a far worse evil at Arkham Asylum The Joker! Forever destined to be mortal enemies The Joker has a diabolical scheme that may pull Batman down to the darkest levels of insanity. While on the horizon a global catastrophe races towards Gotham and with it comes a familiar face The Man of Steel though this time he has Batman in his sights. Witness as the aging Dark Knight wages a tireless war against crime while proving that courage and will are indeed timeless.
For more about Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 and the Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 Blu-ray release, see Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on January 24, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Peter Weller, Michael Emerson, Mark Valley, Ariel Winter, David Selby, Carlos Alazraqui
Director: Jay Oliva
» See full cast & crew
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 Blu-ray Review
The Dark Knight Returns, and what a return it is...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, January 24, 2013
Successfully adapting Frank Miller's seminal 1986 limited series, "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns," would be a monumental challenge and undertaking for anyone, geek god Christopher Nolan included. It's long been considered unfilmable. Apparently, though, executive producer Bruce Timm doesn't scare so easily. For Warner Bros. Animation's fifteenth and sixteenth DC Universe animated original movies, Timm and his fellow producers decided to finally give comic fans the one film they've spent more than twenty-five years begging to see. And, having now watched both parts, I can safely say it couldn't be much better. The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 was a far more successful adaptation than I expected, and a more fully realized animated film than the bulk of DCU original animated movies on the market. It lacked the depth and complexity for which Miller's take on the Dark Knight mythos is revered -- specifically the comicbook's running narration and the insight it provided into Batman's perspective and actions -- but as a traditional animated venture, it excelled.
The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 still doesn't offer much in the way of Miller's original narration, an unfortunate necessity for the filmmakers and a bittersweet change for fans of the comic, but it doesn't pull any punches either. On almost every front, Part 2 is an intelligent, able-bodied adaptation of its source, a surprisingly bloody, hard-hitting actioner, and a thrilling conclusion to director Jay Oliva and writer Bob Goodman's carefully crafted and beautifully animated superhero saga. Part 1 came close. Part 2 closes the distance, pounces on its potential and goes for the jugular.
I didn't have to go easy on you. A different binding agent, a stronger mix... I want you to remember that. I wanted to remind you to stay out of my way. In all the years to come, in your most private moments, I want you to remember the one man who beat you...
Two Face defeated. The Mutant Leader forcefully deposed. The Mutant gang fractured and dispersed. Batman (voiced by Peter Weller) is Gotham's Dark Knight once again. His resurrection, though, comes at a cost: the Gotham City police have been ordered to hunt him down, the President of the United States (Jim Meskimen) is growing irritated with his return, and the Joker (Michael Emerson) has escaped his Arkham Asylum incarceration, killing hundreds in the process. On live TV no less. Now the new commissioner of police, Ellen Yindel (Maria Canals Barrera), is aggressively tracking the Bat. The President, running out of options and distracted by a nuclear standoff between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, sends government-sanctioned one-man-army Superman (Mark Valley) to deal with the Russians and the Dark Knight. (Three guesses as to which target presents the greater challenge.) And the Joker, plotting his next killing spree, prepares to face his lifelong nemesis. With a mounting army of Mutant converts at his side and a few familiar faces -- newly anointed Robin, Carrie (Ariel Winter), former commissioner Jim Gordon (David Selby), old friend Selina Kyle (Tress MacNeille), loyal confidant Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Jackson) and brother-in-arms Oliver Queen (Robin Atkin Downes) -- Batman has to defeat the Joker, Superman and death itself. Tall order... for anyone other than the Dark Knight.
With the groundwork already laid in Part 1, Oliva and Goodman are free to indulge in one climactic showdown after another. Batman vs. Public Opinion. Batman vs. the Mutant remnant. Batman vs. the Joker. Superman vs. Nuclear Annihilation. Batman vs. Gotham City Mobs. Batman vs. Nuclear Winter. Batman vs. the Big Boy in Blue. Superman vs. Integrity. Batman vs. the Grave. And in most every way, it makes for a more exciting animated epic. Miller's narration isn't so sorely missed this time around, the adaptation is even more faithful than before, and the battles are more vicious and visceral than I ever imagined they would be. Watching the Joker stumble through an amusement park with a batarang jutting out of his eye, indiscriminately shooting anyone who crosses his path, is chilling. His final hurrah as disturbing as his last laugh. Following Oliver Queen from rooftop to rooftop, down one arm but as full of fight as ever, is invigorating. His last-second shot a breath of relief. Seeing Batman stand his ground against Superman, putting all of his skills to work in an armored suit that allows him to go toe to toe with an invincible Kryptonian, is the stuff of fanboy dreams and frenzied comic-shop chatter. His assault as perfectly planned as it is perfectly executed. There are other standout moments lifted directly from the page -- too many to list without spoiling the story for those who haven't read Miller's original series -- and each one is given its just due.
The animation is also some of the best the DCU branch of Warner Bros. Animation has produced. Fast, fluid and fierce, every punch makes an impact, every fall has a consequence, every movement has weight and convincing heft. Batman's age is at play at all times, dragging him down, making him slower, and it reads on screen. Superman's vitality is intact, the Joker's impulse bleeds through his pores, Carrie's youth is apparent... from character design to final animation, the heroes and villains Miller re-imagined move and breathe just as they should, and it's abundantly clear how much thought went into animating some of the most iconic sequences in DC comicbook history. (If that strikes you as hyperbole, you haven't read "The Dark Knight Returns.") Considering how relatively simplistic the Timm-established DCU animation style is, Part 2 represents quite a feat, relying on motion, space, framing, color and speed to convey so much with so little. I'd even go so far as to call The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 the most visually stunning DCU animated movie to date, even though a few hiccups and shortcuts take a brief toll. (Camera zooms sometimes distort the line art, the scenes involving the struggle for control of Corto Maltese are too small in scale, and a negligible number of panel-to-screen shots -- namely Superman's American hero pose, complete with a bald eagle perched on his arm -- seem hokey and a bit too on the nose, in spite of being yanked directly out of Miller's comic.) It might be the most arresting too, even if the fluidity that bolsters the animation doesn't always bolster the actors' dramatic performances. Example? Superman's quick exchange with Gordon, for one. Some of the lines in Goodman's script deserve dramatic pause before being delivered, but they're sometimes rushed together, depriving them of the gravity of what's being said. But I'm just nitpicking now.
The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 is nine-tenths of a DCU animated masterpiece. And considering we're dealing with one of the most respected and influential DC comicbook stories of all time, that's a big deal. As a standalone film, it's a blistering animated feature. As the second half of a grander adaptation, it's a wonderfully dramatic, action-packed conclusion that brings things to a climactic close. As a two-part experiment, it succeeds. Timm and his fellow producers should take note; dividing a DCU film into multiple parts may be the only way to avoid the curse of the truncated 80-minute adaptation. It certainly worked for The Dark Knight Returns.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 features a strong, occasionally shaky 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation. The strong? Colors are bleak yet brave and bold, primaries erupt, black levels are inky, and contrast is spot on from beginning to end. Detail is excellent too, albeit to a fault. The animators' line art is clean and nicely defined, color fills are stable, and every last nuance in the animation is allowed to shine. "Camera" moves, though, particularly zooms, sometimes distort, soften or pixelate the image a bit. Each instance is minor and, more crucially, traces back to the animation rather than Warner's high definition encode, but it still amounts to a slight distraction, especially for those viewing the movie on larger displays. Which brings us to the shakier aspects of the presentation, all of which are thankfully in short supply. Static, horizontal banding plagues the Gotham City skies, some exceedingly negligible artifacts creep into shots involving smoke or falling ash, and slight aliasing appears from time to time. Is any of it a deal breaker? Not at all. Fans of the DCU animated movies should be well acquainted with such anomalies by now, and know that these issues are largely a result of the modestly budgeted productions and have very little, if anything, to do with the technical quality of the Blu-ray presentation.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 features a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track that handles the Gotham City chaos and unrest in stride. Dialogue is intelligible and carefully prioritized in the mix, voices are decently (not perfectly) grounded in the soundscape, and dynamics are more than sufficient for the task at hand. The LFE channel, meanwhile, cranks up the intensity of the battles spectacularly, sinking its teeth into every meaty punch, explosion, roaring engine, machine gun burst, charging horse, collapsing staircase, nuclear flash, thunderous clash and struggling heartbeat. The rear speakers aren't quite so aggressive (blame the movie's at-times two-dimensional sound design), but they fill Gotham and its shadows with enough ambience and atmosphere to pull their weight. Directional effects are assertive and precise, pans are smooth and the soundfield is reasonably immersive, particularly when Part 2's action scenes are out in full force. Ultimately, I doubt The Dark Knight Returns could sound much better than it does here. Fuller, more encompassing sound design would help, but that has little to do with Warner's lossless efforts. For all intents and purposes, Part 2 sounds great.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Rather than go quietly into the night, The Dark Knight Returns goes out in spectacular fashion, both as a pulse-pounding DCU animated movie and as a successful adaptation of a Batman story long deemed unfilmable. This isn't the live-action adaptation fans have been clamoring for since 1986, of course, but it comes about as close as a direct-to-video animated production could. And if this is as close as we ever get, I'm okay with it. As for The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 Blu-ray release, Warner delivers a strong AV showing and a solid assortment of extras. I suspect we'll see a tempting combo release of both movies in the future, perhaps with additional scenes edited into the film's full three-hour cut. For now, though, Batman fans of all stripes owe it to themselves to pick up the conclusion to Oliva and Goodman's adaptation of Miller's seminal Dark Knight epic. In a word, it's fantastic.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2: Other Editions
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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 - Cast Interviews and New... - January 23, 2013
In anticipation of the upcoming Blu-ray release of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has released a trio of video interviews with voice actors Peter Weller (Batman), Michael Emerson (The Joker) and Mark Valley (Superman), ...
• New Clip - Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 - January 15, 2013
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has unveiled yet another new clip from the upcoming Blu-ray release of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2. In it, Batman (voiced by Peter Weller) stops a mob of ex-Mutants from taking over Gotham through murderous means, proclaiming ...
• Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 Clip - January 5, 2013
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has released an exciting new clip from the upcoming Blu-ray release of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2. In it, Batman fights a Gotham City SWAT team led by Commissioner Gordon's replacement, Ellen Yindel. The conclusion to ...
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