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-   -   Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review (http://forums.superherohype.com/showthread.php?t=396395)

Doc Samson 09-25-2012 06:49 PM

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
Been looking around and haven't spotted a thread for this yet. Feel free to point me in the right direction if I've missed it.

Anyhow, has anybody seen this yet? Translations like this can always be a little tricky, at least for me. I like to see it be faithful, but I also think when it's slavish to the source material it's almost tantamount to a motion comic.

That's basically how I felt about Year One, and I'm hesitant about this now. If it's just word for word exact dialogue with the same sequential narration and nothing added to it, I may pass. I understand it's kind of the point, but again, that's what motion comics are for...

Havok83 09-25-2012 07:24 PM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
Why are they selling this as a Part 1 and not a complete package? Im assuming theres a Part 2 to come. Wasnt the original adaptation just a 4 issue mini series? How does that get stretched out into 2 films?

CConn 09-25-2012 08:25 PM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
My review...

It probably should be considered sacrilege to be a Batman fan and not be absolutely gaga over The Dark Knight Returns, but, strangely, I never was a giant fan of Fran Miller's grim take on Batman's future. Don't get me wrong, it's a good story, and one of the better Batman tales out there, but I never quite regarded it as definitive or superior to the many other worthwhile takes on Batman. Amazingly however, TDKR Part 1 did what very few film adaptations are ever able to do and - in many ways - improved upon and surpassed it's source material.

The changes are immediately apparent. While the film opens in the exact same way as the comic, gone is the hard boiled noir inner monologues that gave the original comic it's Sin City-esque tone, gone is the constant drone of newscasters and polipsy babbling, and in its stead is little more than the grim, dark adrenaline of Bruce Wayne pushing its racer to its limit, as a musical score that blends Hans Zimmer with John Carpenter plays quietly in the background.

The newscasters pop up soon enough - make no mistake, no story beats are missed or forgotten about - but the subtle tweaks in its presentation turns the film from a definitively noir, comic booky experience, into something even more sinister and brutal. It's still unmistakably Batman, but with it, comes the slick and eery overtones of 80s sci-fi and the ultra-violent twinge of the 80s actioneer. Being an animated film with a running time of scarcely 76 minutes, it's obviously not quite up to par with Blade Runner, and RoboCop, and the original Terminator, but it without question borrows heavily from those pieces to create a strangely iconic, strangely unique 80s futurist vision of Batman.

Which, if you've read the comic, I'm sure you'll say it's what it always has been. The source material definitely lends itself to that sub-genre that was burgeoning in Hollywood when Frank Miller first penned the comic back in 1986, but again, it's only enhanced and improved by the film crew's creative decisions and direction.

Outside of its overall presentation, the next overwhelming strength for the film, is the characterization of Batman himself. After reading the comic, I was hardly sold on the grizzled, militaristic Batman that Frank Miller made famous, but on film, and voiced phenomenally by Peter Weller (of RoboCop fame, ironically), the over the top characterization of the comic is, once again, transmuted into something much cooler, sleeker and simply exuding 80s cool and bravado.

To say that Batman is at his best - his coolest, his most violent, his most broken and intriguing - would not be a wholly incorrect statement to make. While I positively love Michael Keaton's portrayal of Batman, and while I respect the detail in which Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale explored their Batman's psyche, Weller's Batman has a fierceness that both of those interpretations lacked. He is, to be blunt, a bad ass. More RoboCop, John McClaine, Snake Pliskin than the wounded soul that Keaton and Bale were.

The final striking aspect of the film, honestly has to be its direction and overall sublety of its screenwriting. During the opening act of the film, we're treated to several moments of Bruce Wayne's inner demons and his continued obsession with his parents death in several flashbacks and hallucinatory episodes that deliver that age old psychosis of Batman in possibly the most sophisticated yet troubled way I've yet seen on film.

On top of this surprisingly mature writing is a level of direction and shot selection that I've seldom seen in animated, direct-to-video filmmaking. It's balantly obvious that director Jay Olivia truly strove to make a movie that is more than just an hour-long marketing ploy. He really seemed to want to make something truly special and individual to the series of DC Animated movies; a love letter to the original work, to the action films of our collective, 80s childhoods, to Christopher Nolan's recent entries, and, of course, to the character himself.

All in all, this care, attention to detail and talent in adaptation, acting, and direction imbibes The Dark Knight Returns with a level of quality and maturity that is rarely seen in this genre of film.

CConn 09-25-2012 08:35 PM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Havok83 (Post 24376249)
Why are they selling this as a Part 1 and not a complete package?

Because of financials. Due to production costs, each DCAU film can only be about 75-minutes long, which wasn't nearly enough time to properly tell the TDKR story, so they split it into two parts.

Why didn't they package them together? Because then they would've had to sell it for 35-40 bucks a pop, and how many people/parents do you think would be willing to shell out that much for an animated, DTV movie?
Quote:

Im assuming theres a Part 2 to come.
It's coming out sometime next year. I thought in the spring, but then the featurette on the DVD said the winter, so I'm not sure now.
Quote:

Wasnt the original adaptation just a 4 issue mini series? How does that get stretched out into 2 films?
It was just a four issue mini-series, but each of those four issues were like 68 pages long, which makes for PLENTY of material for two movies.

Additionally, the way TDKR was written, actually is extremely conducive for a two-part movie. Honestly, if you were unfamiliar with the comic, TDKR Part 1 could be its own stand-alone film, and you'd really not even notice anything was missing.

That said, it definitely does lead into Part 2 (think Batman Begins), and Part 2 definitely will have a more resolute and decisive finale.

Havok83 09-25-2012 08:43 PM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by CConn (Post 24376517)
Why didn't they package them together? Because then they would've had to sell it for 35-40 bucks a pop, and how many people/parents do you think would be willing to shell out that much for an animated, DTV movie?
It's coming out sometime next year. I thought in the spring, but then the featurette on the DVD said the winter, so I'm not sure now.
It was just a four issue mini-series, but each of those four issues were like 68 pages long, which makes for PLENTY of material for two movies.

Which is why you create multiple versions instead of just one. I would hope that they'd sell a bundle pack after Part 2 drops, but Im not holding my breath on it

CConn 09-25-2012 08:44 PM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
...it's really that important?

Havok83 09-25-2012 08:53 PM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
Yep

CConn 09-25-2012 08:56 PM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
You remind me of a guy I work with.

On sunny and warm summer days, he talks about how the sun is too bright and the temperature too preferable.

Doc Samson 09-25-2012 09:33 PM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by CConn (Post 24376475)
My review...

It probably should be considered sacrilege to be a Batman fan and not be absolutely gaga over The Dark Knight Returns, but, strangely, I never was a giant fan of Fran Miller's grim take on Batman's future. Don't get me wrong, it's a good story, and one of the better Batman tales out there, but I never quite regarded it as definitive or superior to the many other worthwhile takes on Batman. Amazingly however, TDKR Part 1 did what very few film adaptations are ever able to do and - in many ways - improved upon and surpassed it's source material.

The changes are immediately apparent. While the film opens in the exact same way as the comic, gone is the hard boiled noir inner monologues that gave the original comic it's Sin City-esque tone, gone is the constant drone of newscasters and polipsy babbling, and in its stead is little more than the grim, dark adrenaline of Bruce Wayne pushing its racer to its limit, as a musical score that blends Hans Zimmer with John Carpenter plays quietly in the background.

The newscasters pop up soon enough - make no mistake, no story beats are missed or forgotten about - but the subtle tweaks in its presentation turns the film from a definitively noir, comic booky experience, into something even more sinister and brutal. It's still unmistakably Batman, but with it, comes the slick and eery overtones of 80s sci-fi and the ultra-violent twinge of the 80s actioneer. Being an animated film with a running time of scarcely 76 minutes, it's obviously not quite up to par with Blade Runner, and RoboCop, and the original Terminator, but it without question borrows heavily from those pieces to create a strangely iconic, strangely unique 80s futurist vision of Batman.

Which, if you've read the comic, I'm sure you'll say it's what it always has been. The source material definitely lends itself to that sub-genre that was burgeoning in Hollywood when Frank Miller first penned the comic back in 1986, but again, it's only enhanced and improved by the film crew's creative decisions and direction.

Outside of its overall presentation, the next overwhelming strength for the film, is the characterization of Batman himself. After reading the comic, I was hardly sold on the grizzled, militaristic Batman that Frank Miller made famous, but on film, and voiced phenomenally by Peter Weller (of RoboCop fame, ironically), the over the top characterization of the comic is, once again, transmuted into something much cooler, sleeker and simply exuding 80s cool and bravado.

To say that Batman is at his best - his coolest, his most violent, his most broken and intriguing - would not be a wholly incorrect statement to make. While I positively love Michael Keaton's portrayal of Batman, and while I respect the detail in which Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale explored their Batman's psyche, Weller's Batman has a fierceness that both of those interpretations lacked. He is, to be blunt, a bad ass. More RoboCop, John McClaine, Snake Pliskin than the wounded soul that Keaton and Bale were.

The final striking aspect of the film, honestly has to be its direction and overall sublety of its screenwriting. During the opening act of the film, we're treated to several moments of Bruce Wayne's inner demons and his continued obsession with his parents death in several flashbacks and hallucinatory episodes that deliver that age old psychosis of Batman in possibly the most sophisticated yet troubled way I've yet seen on film.

On top of this surprisingly mature writing is a level of direction and shot selection that I've seldom seen in animated, direct-to-video filmmaking. It's balantly obvious that director Jay Olivia truly strove to make a movie that is more than just an hour-long marketing ploy. He really seemed to want to make something truly special and individual to the series of DC Animated movies; a love letter to the original work, to the action films of our collective, 80s childhoods, to Christopher Nolan's recent entries, and, of course, to the character himself.

All in all, this care, attention to detail and talent in adaptation, acting, and direction imbibes The Dark Knight Returns with a level of quality and maturity that is rarely seen in this genre of film.

http://forums.superherohype.com/images/icons/icon14.gif Brilliant!

Unlike you, DKR pretty much defined my adolescent comic book experience, it was actually the first comic I ever owned personally (with the exception of things I mooched from my siblings) which, I believe, is part of the reason they bought it for me, in order to leave their stuff alone. So I'm always guarded in terms of anything having to do with a translation or interpretation from it, but I may just have to take a look...

Polaris23 09-26-2012 01:27 PM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
Uh what happened to that other thread we had on this movie? I can't find it anywhere

Doc Samson 09-26-2012 03:40 PM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
Good question, because I couldn't find it either. Hence, why we are here...

theMan-Bat 09-27-2012 12:09 AM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
The two Dark Knight Returns threads were merged into one.
http://forums.superherohype.com/show...351671&page=37

The Joker 09-27-2012 05:48 PM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
How would you all rank it among the other animated Batman movies?

CConn 09-27-2012 05:53 PM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by The Joker (Post 24385425)
How would you all rank it among the other animated Batman movies?

1. Under The Red Hood
2. Return of the Joker
3. The Dark Knight Returns
4. Year One
5. Mask of the Phantasm

Something like that. To me, it's very much to Under The Red Hood as Rises is to TDK, but then again, you don't like Rises, so that analogy doesn't really work. :o

Happy Jack 09-27-2012 08:45 PM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
I'm probably in the minority but I didn't see what was so special about Under the Red Hood. I mean, it was good and all, but I wouldn't rank it above many of the other Batman animated movies like Mask of the Phantasm or Return of the Joker.

The Joker 09-27-2012 08:56 PM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by CConn (Post 24385465)
1. Under The Red Hood
2. Return of the Joker
3. The Dark Knight Returns
4. Year One
5. Mask of the Phantasm

Something like that. To me, it's very much to Under The Red Hood as Rises is to TDK, but then again, you don't like Rises, so that analogy doesn't really work. :o

I do like Rises, I just see a lot of flaws in the story that really stand out.

I'm surprised you rate MOTP so low. Any particular reason?

CConn 09-28-2012 12:09 AM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
I dunno. I've never been a big fan of MOTP. Even as a kid. I kinda think it has something to do with the flashbacks; they seem to take up too much time in the movie, and ultimately shift focus from it being a Batman story, to a love story. Which never really seems to suit Batman, IMO. And even how the love story was handled...it kinda rubbed me wrong. Batman being in love with like Catwoman - who is very much a part of his weird, consumed world - makes sense; Batman wanting to throw his crime fighting out the window just for some random girl he likes? A lot less fitting.

CConn 09-28-2012 12:10 AM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
Although, I should say, me ranking MOTP at #5 doesn't mean I dislike it. I absolutely love #1-4. I even like Year One a whole lot more than most people do.

Robin91939 09-28-2012 01:42 AM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by CConn (Post 24376475)
My review...

It probably should be considered sacrilege to be a Batman fan and not be absolutely gaga over The Dark Knight Returns, but, strangely, I never was a giant fan of Fran Miller's grim take on Batman's future. Don't get me wrong, it's a good story, and one of the better Batman tales out there, but I never quite regarded it as definitive or superior to the many other worthwhile takes on Batman. Amazingly however, TDKR Part 1 did what very few film adaptations are ever able to do and - in many ways - improved upon and surpassed it's source material.

I have always felt the same way. I think, what this may be, is a product of when we were born. (Ironically on the same day, lol). To us, Batman was never the Adam West/50's-60's silly Batman. Sure, I grew up watching re-runs of the camp show and old episodes of Super-Friends and these were my first experiences with Batman, but my first "real" experiences (comics, movies, Batman: The Animated Series) were all "post-The Dark Knight Returns." Miller had already changed the game. So it is harder for someone my age to fully grasp the "after" if I never truly lived in the "before."

Still, I never revered the story as this amazing "bible" to Bat-greatness. I find it a solid story, but not the holy grail of comics that some fans find it to be. I own it. As a fan of the character and someone who appreciates the impact it's had on the character it was a must have, but I rarely find my nose in it -- something I can't say about the rest of my collection.

Despite not gushing over the story I, as I'm sure you have, try to put it into perspective. I try to imagine "what if" my first and only true experiences of the Batman were the silly, fantastic and the camp? Then I look at what Miller accomplished in The Dark Knight Returns and I'm able to appreciate it more than I did upon first reading it. I can see, if I block all prior knowledge of a "dark" Batman out, as best I can what they saw in the late 80's when this first hit shelves...

Still, I find much of it's impact for being the first "dark" take on Batman to be hyperbole. Neal Adams and Denny O'neil weren't exactly writing bright and cheery Batman stories in the late 70's and early 80's -- Miller simply took what they were doing to another level.

But like you, I feel not only did this film elevate the material, it made me enjoy the story more than I did in the comic...

Quote:

Originally Posted by CConn (Post 24376475)
The changes are immediately apparent. While the film opens in the exact same way as the comic, gone is the hard boiled noir inner monologues that gave the original comic it's Sin City-esque tone, gone is the constant drone of newscasters and polipsy babbling, and in its stead is little more than the grim, dark adrenaline of Bruce Wayne pushing its racer to its limit, as a musical score that blends Hans Zimmer with John Carpenter plays quietly in the background.

The music in this film is fantastic. It's very 1980's and very apropos. I loved that they did retain most of the "talking-heads" from the comic, but I also felt that most of the "side-stories" in the comic took me out of the main narrative. I understand what Miller was trying to do, showing these random acts of crime in this hopeless city, but some of it could have been trimmed. And Timm and Co. have done that masterfully...

Quote:

Originally Posted by CConn (Post 24376475)
The newscasters pop up soon enough - make no mistake, no story beats are missed or forgotten about - but the subtle tweaks in its presentation turns the film from a definitively noir, comic booky experience, into something even more sinister and brutal. It's still unmistakably Batman, but with it, comes the slick and eery overtones of 80s sci-fi and the ultra-violent twinge of the 80s actioneer. Being an animated film with a running time of scarcely 76 minutes, it's obviously not quite up to par with Blade Runner, and RoboCop, and the original Terminator, but it without question borrows heavily from those pieces to create a strangely iconic, strangely unique 80s futurist vision of Batman.

Which, if you've read the comic, I'm sure you'll say it's what it always has been. The source material definitely lends itself to that sub-genre that was burgeoning in Hollywood when Frank Miller first penned the comic back in 1986, but again, it's only enhanced and improved by the film crew's creative decisions and direction.

It captures Miller's artwork just enough. It cleans up his designs (Miller is great at drawing atmosphere, not really at drawing) and adds the perfect amount of 80's to make it real and the perfect amount of sci-fi to make it surreal, and they nail that balance. It's a dirty, cruel world. It's a real world. The wealthy dine in top floor restaurants with beautiful views over-looking the city, and the poor hang around busted up arcades...

Quote:

Originally Posted by CConn (Post 24376475)
Outside of its overall presentation, the next overwhelming strength for the film, is the characterization of Batman himself. After reading the comic, I was hardly sold on the grizzled, militaristic Batman that Frank Miller made famous, but on film, and voiced phenomenally by Peter Weller (of RoboCop fame, ironically), the over the top characterization of the comic is, once again, transmuted into something much cooler, sleeker and simply exuding 80s cool and bravado.

While there are lines from the comic that I will always love and that I feel Miller nailed in the characterization of an older Wayne "This isn't a mud hole, it's an operating table... and I'm the surgeon," being one of the best -- some felt out of place and out of character. Here -- even some of the lines that I never felt worked in the comic, work. Weller is fantastic in this role.

Quote:

Originally Posted by CConn (Post 24376475)
To say that Batman is at his best - his coolest, his most violent, his most broken and intriguing - would not be a wholly incorrect statement to make. While I positively love Michael Keaton's portrayal of Batman, and while I respect the detail in which Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale explored their Batman's psyche, Weller's Batman has a fierceness that both of those interpretations lacked. He is, to be blunt, a bad ass. More RoboCop, John McClaine, Snake Pliskin than the wounded soul that Keaton and Bale were.

The soft-spokeness of batman is something that I've sorely missed. I love both the Bale and the Keaton Batmans. (Full-disclosure, I favor Bale's). But I always loved that Batman, in my head when I read him, doesn't need to yell or growl all the time. He can yell and growl like an animal when he has to or when he's angry, but he can also... almost whisper. John McClaine is a great example. Cool, reserved and collected but can always breakout a "yippie-ki-yay" if he has to.

Quote:

Originally Posted by CConn (Post 24376475)
The final striking aspect of the film, honestly has to be its direction and overall sublety of its screenwriting. During the opening act of the film, we're treated to several moments of Bruce Wayne's inner demons and his continued obsession with his parents death in several flashbacks and hallucinatory episodes that deliver that age old psychosis of Batman in possibly the most sophisticated yet troubled way I've yet seen on film.

I liked that we see it without ever really fully seeing it. I also loved the way that they handled Jason. Things the comic did well -- but I feel this did better.

Quote:

Originally Posted by CConn (Post 24376475)
On top of this surprisingly mature writing is a level of direction and shot selection that I've seldom seen in animated, direct-to-video filmmaking. It's balantly obvious that director Jay Olivia truly strove to make a movie that is more than just an hour-long marketing ploy. He really seemed to want to make something truly special and individual to the series of DC Animated movies; a love letter to the original work, to the action films of our collective, 80s childhoods, to Christopher Nolan's recent entries, and, of course, to the character himself.

This is a truly "live-action" feeling animated film. Watching it -- you forget you're watching a cartoon... 100% agreed.

Quote:

Originally Posted by CConn (Post 24376475)
All in all, this care, attention to detail and talent in adaptation, acting, and direction imbibes The Dark Knight Returns with a level of quality and maturity that is rarely seen in this genre of film.

I can't wait to see Part II. Agree with this review on all counts.

Quote:

Originally Posted by CConn (Post 24385465)
1. Under The Red Hood
2. Return of the Joker
3. The Dark Knight Returns
4. Year One
5. Mask of the Phantasm

Something like that. To me, it's very much to Under The Red Hood as Rises is to TDK, but then again, you don't like Rises, so that analogy doesn't really work. :o

I loved Under The Red Hood, totally agree with that placement, far and away the best of the batch.

My rankings would look about the same, maybe switch 4 and 5 -- but they are all so close.


-R

TheVileOne 09-28-2012 02:15 AM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
Personally I think it would've been awesome if they did just one big epic animated movie instead of doing it as two parts since we rarely ever see that these days. But that's not how DC Animation approaches these movies.

Caped Crusader 09-28-2012 11:06 AM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by The Joker (Post 24385425)
How would you all rank it among the other animated Batman movies?

1. Year One
2. Under The Red Hood
3. The Dark Knight Returns Part I
4. Mask of the Phantasm
5. Sub Zero

Doc Samson 09-28-2012 02:59 PM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
Just saw the movie last night, and honestly, I'm shocked at how much I enjoyed it. This is the Holy Grail for me and many of my time, as a kid it felt like a real life film in the palm of my hands, with the huge splash pages & Frank Miller nightmare version of Gotham & Batman himself. Til this day I still get that feeling whenever I thumb through it, just an epic tale told on the most epic of scales. However like I said above, I wasn't too keen on the Year One movie, as I felt it was just too slavish to the book, to a fault. I got that motion comic feel from it, with this, not so much.

Maybe it's just how well it's put together that makes it more entertaining, but from the music to the voice work & animation, this is way up there for me. In fact, I'd rate it only underneath Red Hood as my favorite. And that's only after one viewing, and obviously without Part II.

I'd have to say initially my favorite scene is the way his flashback to crime alley is handled when he's watching Zorro on TV. The imagery & music in that scene rivals anything I've ever witnessed from an animated cartoon, as far as the atmosphere & mood. Splendid work.

CConn 09-28-2012 05:09 PM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
Yep. Like I said, the direction was well beyond anything I've ever seen in an animated DTV movie.

Caped Crusader 09-29-2012 09:58 AM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
The more I watch the more I love it. The ending is just awesome.

TheFuture 10-18-2012 09:26 AM

Re: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I Review
 
Really enjoyed this and it's perhaps one of my favourite animated adaptations. It achieves that rare thing that so many animated features fail to and that's to be so engrossing. I really felt engaged by the whole thing.

The first fight between the mutant leader and Batman was just insane and surprisingly violent (I say surprisingly because there are one or two cuts in this feature of risky lines from the graphic novel - for example, the guy Lana is debating calling her fat, and Batman not following his "You've got plenty of rights" line with "Sometimes I count them to make myself feel insane" line.).

I also surprisingly loved the soundtrack too. Again, it's a rarity for me to dig a soundtrack from an animated soundtrack. I'm really happy with how this work out. 4 out of 5 for me as far as animated features go.


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