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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Movie Review - Batman: The Dark Knight Returns - Part 1

Movie Title 
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1
Animation, Crime, Comic Adaptation

Based on the 1986 award-winning & ground-breaking 4-issue DC mini-series by Frank Miller's Batman - The Dark Knight. It was the series that brought the grim and gritty realism & darkness to the DC Universe, which used to be bright and cheery.

Set during a time when Batman had grown old (in his mid 50s?) & long retired from crime-fighting. Gotham had sunk deeper into lawlessness where the streets are under the control of a gang called the Mutants (nothing to do with the X-Men or mutation). 

Angered by what he sees, he comes out of retirement to set things right. In a pivotal confrontation with the Mutants & the Mutant Leader, he is seriously injured by the Mutant Leader in a hand-to-hand slug-fest and that's where Carrie Kelly, a feisty teenage girl who will eventually become the new Robin, makes her debut in Batman's life, by saving him.

As this is a 2-part animation, there's a lot more room for the movie-makers to play around with letting the sub-plots simmer, and they make full use of it. There are lots of other sub-plots going on such as Harvey Dent's complete fall from grace, the Joker and Superman (altho' he doesn't show up in Part 1, we know he will in Part 2 - plus, there are appearances by Superman's supporting characters like Jimmy Olsen and Lana Lang.)
Artwork & Acting
The artwork's pretty good - reminiscent of the style employed by Miller in the books. Not the prettiest pictures but styled consistently and well-suited for the gritty feel of the movie. Personally, the art is not among my favourites in terms of style but admittedly it's still pretty good art.

The acting is very good as well. For me, that means there are no jarring or cartoony voices that usually creep up in animated movies. Here, the voices are so well done to the point that if you close your eyes, you would very well believe you were watching a live action movie. 
It's a good animated movie. However, I personally find it being just too dark & depressing a watch. I am not comparing this with Disney/PIXAR type of feel-good movies but some of the other Super-hero animations. Hence, despite it being a 2-parter with a cliff-hanger at the end of the 1st part, I don't find myself eagerly waiting for the 2nd part. 

Maybe this could be due to the fact that I had read the comic books back in the 80s and know how it ends.

There is a great Easter egg/ homage to the cover of the Frank Miller Series #1 cover in the 1st half of the movie which I thought was brilliant and that fans would really enjoy.

This is a good watch for anyone who is into superheroes or a grim & gritty crime story - not strictly just for comic fans only. Go and watch it and tell me what you think!

Rating: 6.5/10

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