Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 is easily on par with Chris Nolan’s amazing live action movies with great action, some good drama with the aging Bruce Wayne and an epic fight sequence between Batman and Superman, including some nice little zingers they throw back and forth. The Blu-ray is standard affair as far as Warner releases go with an OK selection of features and above average audio/video transfers.
Genre(s): Animation, Action, Adventure
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 76 min. – $24.98 | January 29, 2013
Directed by: Jay Oliva
Writer(s): Frank Miller (graphic novel); Bob Goodman (screenplay)
Cast: Peter Weller, Ariel Winter, Michael Emerson, David Selby, Mark Valley
Features: Featurettes, Bonus Cartoons, Digital Comic, DVD Copy, UltraViolet Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 25.8 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 4.5/5
Warning: This review contains spoilers!
When we last saw the Caped Crusader (voiced by PETER WELLER), he and new sidekick Carrie Kelley (ARIEL WINTER) filling the shoes of Robin, as they rid the streets of a notorious gang simply known as “The Mutants” and its grotesque and gruesome leader. However, with Commissioner Jim Gordon (DAVID SELBY) soon retiring and his replacement, Ellen Yindel (MARIA CANALS), is not so keen on vigilantism and upon taking office, makes it a priority to capture or kill Batman.
In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2, we find the dystopian Gotham is in relative peace… until Batman’s old foe The Joker (MICHAEL EMERSON) has awoken from his catatonic state as Batman’s popularity rose amongst citizens and in the media. He makes his escape via his “feel good” doctor (MICHAEL MCKEAN) who gets The Joker a slot on a lake night talk show (host voiced by CONAN O’BRIEN) but he strikes by poisoning everybody. Batman attempts to thwart The Joker’s plans but he has his hands full with Gotham PD on his tail, ultimately relying on Robin to save his butt.
Meanwhile, The Joker is on the loose but not for long as he’s discovered at, where else, the fair grounds. Batman goes there and confronts the Clown Prince of Crime giving it his all to stop the madman while Robin tackles a couple of inflatable poisonous kids (they don’t explain it, so I won’t either). In a tunnel, Batman and Joker go mano-e-mano with Batman slowly losing control beating The Joker to a pulp. But his troubles aren’t over as the new commissioner and her squad are in place to take him in so, seriously wounded, Batman must once again rely on Robin to escape alive, albeit barely.
The film then goes into its third and final phase. During all of this, we find Superman (MARK VALLEY) working in conjunction with the United States government, and President Regan specifically, to gain an advantage over the Russians during a battle of a small island. But the President has other plans as well with Batman going rogue in Gotham causing havoc, he instructs the Man of Steel to stop Batman at all costs. This leads to the ultimate battle: the strength of Superman vs. the brain of Batman.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 is an epic conclusion to a masterful 2-part animated action-packed suspense-thriller which, at this point, actually rivals Christopher Nolan’s brilliant live-action Batman movies (The Dark Knight included). Taken together, the two movies have a combined running time of around 140-minutes and seeing it all come together, the producers were right in splitting the two but now with both on Blu-ray/DVD, they provide for an amazing experience coming from this Batman fan.
As with the other films in the DC Universe Animated series, this also features a great cast of voice actors. First and foremost, Peter Well was perfect to play the aging, yet still gruff, Batman providing both drama as well as determination, Kevin Conroy is still the best but for this outing, Weller was the best choice; Ariel Winter, of “Modern Family” fame, doesn’t have a whole heck of a lot to do though she, like Weller, has nice determination behind her voice saving her boss’s butt on more than one occasion; Mark Valley (“Fringe”) does a solid job voicing the Man of Steel; and finally Michael Emerson is chilling as The Joker and a far cry from Mark Hamill’s most famous cackling version and while I do prefer Hamill’s voice vs. Emerson’s, it’s a good take on the character giving him a far more menacing vibe that works amazingly well for that environment.
Also worth mentioning is the superb and tight direction from Jay Oliva whose previous ventures included The Invincible Iron Man, Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow and I commend the writers presented with the difficult task of translating Frank Miller’s words and art onto an animation medium. They made many changes, artistically anyway, and it works so well with animation.
In the end, The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 even on its own is an amazing movie but taken with the first half, it makes for one hell of a Batman story. The voice talents are incredible and the styles of the city and characters were spot on. If you have yet to check out these two movies and enjoy animated movies, then now is the right time to rent them both.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.0/5
As with the release of Part 1, this one comes with a nice embossed slip cover. Inside are an UltraViolet Digital Copy and a feature-less DVD Copy.
Superman vs. Batman: When Heroes Collide (9:24; HD) – This featurette focuses on the climatic fight between the two gigantic superheroes. You get interviews from the various members of the crew and those involved in DC Comics and Warner Brothers as they talk about the characters in relation to the graphic novel.
The Joker: Laughing in the Face of Death (14:05; HD) centers on the Clown Prince of Crime (and chaos) and the different versions and how he is presented in The Dark Knight Returns.
From Sketch to Screen: Exploring the Adaptation Process with Jay Oliva (43:30; HD) is an expansive featurette with the director breaking down Frank Miller’s graphic novel and bringing it to the small screen. In substitute for a commentary track, this is interesting to watch and see exactly what went into adapting it, seeing the initial sketches and what was changed.
Additional Episodes: From the DC Comics Vault – There are three episodes from “Batman: The Animated Series” (The Last Laugh and The Man Who Killed Batman) and “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” (Battle of the Superheroes).
Digital Comic: The Dark Knight Falls – This is an excerpt from Frank Miller’s graphic novel which primarily covers the final battle between Superman and Batman.
Trailers – Under this heading, there is a Sneak Peek at Superman: Unbound (10:14; HD), the next installment in the DCU Animated line with Matt Bomer from “White Collar” voicing Superman, Stana Katic and Molly Quinn from “Castle” as Lois Lane and Supergirl respectively, and John Noble from “Fringe” playing Brainiac; Sneak Peek at Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 (12:36; HD), trailer for The Hobbit, Part 1, Before Watchmen comic book as well as a couple other odds and ends.
Preview – Man of Steel
VIDEO – 3.75/5
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 arrives on Blu-ray with a fine 1080p high-definition transfer but it suffers like many other of DCU’s animated line with some obvious signs of banding with sky shots. That said, the colors look well balanced and there are no flaws such as artifacting. It may not have the “wow” factor, but it’s a good transfer.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track included here is suitable but not entirely overpowering even when we get to the fight sequences which didn’t have much of an impact. However, the dialogue levels are nice and clear throughout and the score used comes through the surrounds well enough.
OVERALL – 4.0/5
Overall, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 is easily on par with Chris Nolan’s amazing live action movies with great action, some good drama with the aging Bruce Wayne and an epic fight sequence between Batman and Superman, including some nice little zingers they throw back and forth. The Blu-ray is standard affair as far as Warner releases go with an OK selection of features and above average audio/video transfers.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.