Release Date: September 25th, 2012 (Part I) and January 29th, 2013 (Part II)
Directed by: Jay Oliva
Written by: Bob Goodman
Based on: Batman by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson
Music by: Christopher Drake
Cast: Peter Weller, Ariel Winter, David Selby, Wade Williams, Michael Emerson, Mark Valley, Paget Brewster, Grey DeLisle, Michael McKean, Bruce Timm, Frank Welker, Conan O’Brien, Andy Richter, Tara Strong
DC Entertainment, Warner Bros., 76 Minutes (Part I), 76 Minutes (Part II), 148 Minutes (Deluxe Edition)
“You don’t get it, son. This isn’t a mud hole. It’s an operating table. And I’m the surgeon.” – Batman
When I see that there is a new DC Comics animated adaptation of a famous comic book story coming out, I usually don’t get too excited. The reason being, most of them take tremendous liberties and just sort of do their own thing, ignoring the story they’re “based” on and making the whole thing nothing more than a bullshit marketing scheme to sell more Blu-rays.
I guess that’s why I was pleasantly surprised by this film, a true adaptation that really captured the spirit of Frank Miller’s most famous Batman story.
I put off watching this for a very long time and I only gave it a shot because a friend of mine that actually reads comics told me it was definitely worth my time. He wasn’t wrong.
This film does a fine job of capturing the magic of Miller’s story and it also has some solid homages to the imagery of the famous comic.
I guess my biggest gripe is that even though the animation is really good, it sort of just looks like the other DC Comics animated features. DC has a specific style to its animated films and this falls in line with it. For what this project is and what it represents, I fell as if the art should have been closer to the style and tone of the actual comic. This took a big step forward from a narrative standpoint but the visual style really should have been unique, grittier and more in line with Frank Miller’s art.
I also wasn’t crazy about the length of this but that’s really my own problem, as I start to tune out when watching animation for too long. I don’t really know how this could have been edited down and because it adapts a very rich story in a really great way, I’d leave it alone. It fills the time well and there really isn’t a dull moment.
The voice actors were all superb. Peter Weller was perfect as an old Batman and Ariel Winter, who had to have been really young when this was made, was very convincing as the Carrie Kelley version of Robin.
I’ve watched a lot of DC Comics animated stuff since the ’90s and this is certainly in the upper echelon of the things they’ve put out.
If you love The Dark Knight Returns in comic book form, this shouldn’t disappoint.
Pairs well with: the other recent DC animated Batman and Justice League films.