Batman: The Dark Knight Returns - Part 2Overview -
The Dark Knight, 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.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
The conclusion to DC's 'Batman: The Dark Knight Returns' by Frank Miller is very satisfying on all accounts. Since the comic book mini-series came out in the mid 80s, fans have been salivating for some kind of film adaptation of this brutal story. Over the years, it was said that this particular story was un-filmable, due to its graphic violence and big epic action segments. Nobody really wanted to touch it with a creative finger, in fear of not doing the story justice. But luckily for us, the Warner Bros. Animation team, including Bruce Timm, Jay Oliva, and Bob Goodman, has produced an intense animated two part film that covers Miller's original story amazingly.
Now, it doesn't cover it line by line, and at times, it doesn't even stick to the same story in the form of Miller's original intentions, but don't let that dissuade you from watching this. This animated flick stands on its own and draws its own interpretations from the source material to produce a very smart and ultra violent conclusion that would make any fan of this mini-series jump for joy. It's gritty, creepy, thrilling, and emotional as we see the characters we love go through some serious situations.
Writer Bob Goodman did an incredible job fleshing out these iconic characters and bridging the gap between the source and this adaptation. There is truly nothing like it. This 2nd part picks up right where part 1 left off. We know that Two Face is done for and the Mutant Leader has been stopped with his gang pretty much destroyed and on the run. But the good news is that Batman (Peter Weller) is back, however his return is not appreciated as the President of the United States and the Gotham City police, led by new police commissioner Ellen Yindel (Maria Canals Barrera), are trying to track him down and put him away.
Meanwhile, Joker has escaped Arkham and immediately goes on a brutal killing spree, murdering tons of innocent people, in hopes to have a showdown with the Bat. And Joker starts his killing spree on live television, which is just as sadistic as anything he has ever done. Not only is the President wanting to track down Batman, but he is dealing with an apocalyptic crisis of nuclear war with Russia. So, in order to deal with Bats, the President sends Superman (Mark Valley) to deal with Caped Crusader as well as the Russians.
Now Batman has to take on The Joker, Gotham, the police, Superman, and an impending nuclear war, not too mention his old age, which is catching up to him fast. Some of the usual characters make appearances here such as Robin, Jim Gordon, Alfred, and Selina Kyle, all of which have integral parts. As soon as this film starts, you'll forget about Miller's dialogue and will be entranced by the sheer brutality and intelligence that this adaptation brings. The battle between Batman and Supes is one for the history books, and what they do to take each other out is something I've long imagined and had many conversations with customers about at my comic book store. And seeing The Joker in his most sadistic and evil setting is something that will give me nightmares for a long time. Just watching him walk through a packed amusement park with a batarang protruding from his eye as he tries to escape Bats, killing any and every person he sees is truly chilling.
The animation looks incredible and smooth with every bit of action and fight scene given an extensive amount of detail and attention. Every kick, hit, and takedown was brutal enough that I felt it. The characters are each given the proper amount of time with nobody left in the dark. And the score is simply amazing, which even amplifies the tension to 11. This second part is really the meat and potatoes of the story and never lets up. I highly recommend both this and Part 1 of 'The Dark Knight Returns'. You won't be disappointed.
'The Dark Knight Returns: Part 2' comes with a fairly impressive 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The colors, which are mostly ominous, moody, and gloomy, still come across strikingly bright and vivid. The detail is very sharp with the animation flowing smoothly for the most part as well as the actual drawings being very neatly defined. The blacks are deep and inky too. The look of the this animated film is definitely top notch, however it's not without its very small problems.
The flaws come with camera pans, zoom-ins, and other camera motion associated with this transfer. The image as a whole tends to weaken a bit with the picture softening up and even shows a hint of pixelation when the action comes to full force. There is also a few very small instances where there is artifacting and aliasing, but it's not constant or often. And I'm willing to bet these problems come from the actual animation and not from the actual HD transfer. The good outweighs the bad here 9-1 and most people won't even notice these very minor imperfections. This is still a very solid and top notch transfer, which they did all they could with what the production team turned out.
This release comes with a powerful lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and it packs a punch. The dialogue is crystal clear and easy to understand. It's perfectly situated on the fronts and center with the dynamic range doing a great job. The action scenes in Part 2 are intense, thrilling, and come often. So with that in mind, I was hoping for some great audio from the surrounds. And that is what I received. The gunshots, explosions, crashes, and fights really got the job done here. Once the action scenes get going, my sound system got a great workout. The ambient noises of the city and people talking sound very smooth and flow out of the surrounds very nicely. The sound effects pack a hearty kick to the gut with every blow an enemy is given. This is a solid audio presentation.
- Superman vs. Batman: When Heroes Collide (HD, 9 mins) - We've all asked this question at some point in our lives. If Superman and Batman were to fight each other, who would come out on top? Here is a look at possible answers to that very question as we see each hero's strengths and weaknesses, as well as their changes through time. Definitely worth the look here.
- The Joker: Laughing in the Face of Death (HD, 14 mins) - This extra is for The Joker fans as it dives into this sadistic character's journey through the comics and media. I loved this.
- From Sketch to Screen: Exploring the Adaptation Process With Jay Oliva (HD, 45 mins) - This is a great feature. Director Jay Oliva gives us a detailed look behind the scenes and his personal takes on this 2nd part of 'The Dark Knight Returns'. He covers the artwork, the design, and even the original comic books here. This is sort of his commentary on the film without having an actual audio commentary track. This is a must see for fans of the film.
- From the DC Comics Vault: 3 Bonus Cartoons (HD, 68 mins) - "The Last Laugh" and "The Man Who Killed Batman" from 'Batman: The Animated Series' and "Battle of the Superheroes!" from 'Batman: The Brave and the Bold' are the three bonus cartoons on here. Not sure why they're on here, but I can't complain.
- Sneak Peek: 'Superman: Unbound' (HD, 10 mins) - Here is an extended glimpse at the next project for DC, which features Superman. It has the filmmakers talking about the production of the project as well as the story. I can't wait for this. Looks great.
- Sneak Peek: 'The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1' (HD, 10 mins) - Another extended look much like the one above for the first part of 'Dark Knight Returns'.
- Theatrical Trailers (HD, 4 mins) - Here is where you can find the two sneak peaks from above, as well as trailers for 'The Hobbit', 'Before Watchmen', and more.
This second part of 'Dark Knight Returns' is a whole lot of fun and goes out in a blaze of glory. There is enough action for two films and is one hell of a good story. The audio and video are top notch here with some decent extras. I only hope that someday we will get a big live-action version of this story, but until then, this is the version to have, besides the comics. This is well worth picking up.
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