Batman the Dark Knight Returns Part 1
With an estimated $3,500,000 budget, Warner
and DC Entertainment set out to take on one of the true classics of
graphic novels is a daunting undertaking to say the least. When the
story comes from Frank Miller during the time when his stories bent what
we at the time took as our comic book characters and accepted them as
the simple comic book fodder they were…miller’s story The Dark Knight
Returns electrified the genre and the character into a truly complex
character. The Dark Knight Returns shakes it all up and keeps the inner
essentials of what we all love of The Batman as a character. The story
is spectacular and brilliant in its timing and story elements.
This latest endeavor with the animated telling of the story keeps it
fresh, tweaking just enough to make it fresh if you know the story
already and to keep it as one of the essential Batman tales to ever be
told, and now to own on Blu Ray and DVD.
We are taking a look at the Blu Ray version of Batman: The Dark Knight
Returns part 1. Warner and DC rightfully and wisely decided to split the
adventure into two animated films so as not to water down the iconic
It’s been 10 years from the last sighting of The Batman. Villains we
knew of during the Dark Knights time are pretty much gone, many locked
away in various states of broken and battered psyche. Some like The
Joker a vegetated shell of their former selves and then there is Harvey
Dent, who doctors have worked very hard to heal the physical scars that
Dent has suffered with for so long. Gotham is getting from bad to worse
now though, as a new form of danger plagues the city. A Mutant gang that
seem to have no moral compass by any stretch is escalating in their acts
of violence and have even publicly announced targeting the soon to be
retired Police Commissioner Gordon.
Bruce Wayne is introduced more or less enjoying retirement for all these
years from the cape and cowl, now pushing himself to their limits in
other billionaire playtime endeavors such as car racing. The portrayal
is not unlike watching a Tiger now in a large zoological compound bored
with not being able to hunt for its own food anymore. Wayne’s fight with
the one enemy we all succumb to eventually…time and age…. is portrayed
very well in this animated film. The character struggling with his
purpose and events that sent him on a crash course with fighting crime
in the unyielding darkness that is Gotham soon collide with mortality
staring him in the eye. Here those events play out in the characters
mind again, playing on screen in a gut punch of unblinking tragic
violence of Bruce Wayne’s parent’s murder… that steals away a child’s
innocence and plants the seed of what is to come.
Soon with all the escalating violence the tortured thoughts collide even
more and Wayne dons the iconic costume once again. He goes on a one man
army crime fighting spree. Playing out on screen and giving shadowed
hints of the Dark Knight as he is seen but not seen by enemies and the
innocents he saves, the fan boy in me could not help but to let out with
a delighted giggle. The Dark Knight indeed has returned.
The characters inner monologues that flesh out much of the graphic novel
is absent here, though so spectacularly presented it is un- needed. Some
dialogue has been added where needed to aid the flow of the story and it
all fits oh so well. One of the best scenes that shows so much and
delivers the same message without the internal dialogue is a certain
interrogation from a rather high place. The terror filled scream of the
mutant thug when they at last see where they are is priceless.
The intent of the characters is presented by the animation storytelling
and the excellent character voice acting by the likes of Peter Weller
who brings the older Dark Knight a sense of weary experience. Delivering
classic lines like the mud pit being an operating table and him being a
surgeon. While I am a long time Kevin Conroy fan as the voice of the
Dark Knight, Peter Weller put the edge and bite to this older character.
Stiff delivery at times, but one could imagine this older character.
Much like Ariel Winter puts the spark and believability into the first
female Robin. The entire voice cast in this feature hit the mark and
then some on these characters making them all believable, and better
yet...animation alone could not sell this story. ALL voice actors made
characters likable and at times horrifyingly reprehensible.
Having the Graphic novel for many years and hearing that DC and Warner
Animation were doing this two film adaptation…I have to admit I was a
bit concerned on how it would turn out. Those fears are lay to rest. We
will of course be adding the second part of this review when Part two
comes out in a few months. Till then on with the rest of my thoughts on
Animation presentation is very good indeed. Batman: The Dark Knight
Returns Part 1 Blu Ray presentation is what animation should look like
in high definition. Even some of the slight banding artifacts that creep
in on some of the night scenes with lightning flashes do not make it
less enjoyable. It’s not distracting in the least. In fact, on the first
run through to get a good feel for the story and character, it’s not
really even noticed. Just on the second run through when scrutinizing
for such things did I even take notice. Dark colors are as bleak as they
should be, and when there is color that comes in the brighter spectrums,
they are nicely vivid. Characters and back ground all play out and look
spectacular, even the renditions of iconic visually such as a silhouette
of The Batman leaping through the night, look darn good even with the
bits of banding.
Warner delivers a very nice DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track.
While the sound mix is very good, with dialogue coming across very clear
even amongst the heavy action… for some reason the rear speakers just do
not get much of a work out here. Panning sound, gunfire, explosions all
sound as heavy hitting as every punch landed on an enemy’s face. The
musical track interwoven throughout the film lends itself well, in a
seamless undertone at one point and then building into a crescendo of
crashing action when it calls for it. All in all Batman: The Dark Knight
returns Part 1 is excellent.
This was a Blu Ray/DVD/Ultra Violet combo pack we reviewed, the extras
are as follows:
Standard and high definition versions
of the feature film
UltraViolet™ Digital Download and
Sneak Peak at Batman: The Dark Knight
Returns, Part 2, the next DC Universe Animated Original Movie
Featurette – “Her Name is Carrie … Her
Role is Robin” – An all-new featurette. Experience the role of
Robin, through the eyes of a female warrior.
Featurette – “Batman and Me: The Bob
Kane Story” – A documentary comprehensively chronicling the
remarkable life of the creator of Batman.
Two bonus episodes from Batman: The
Animated Series handpicked by producer Alan Burnett: Two-Face, Parts
1 and 2
Digital Comic – “Batman: The Dark
Knight Returns” (digital comic with cover art and three full comic
These bonus features offer great stuff for
any true comic book fan.
Have fun, play games. Grab a copy of this