MOVIE REVIEW: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Part 1


Hot on the heels of The Dark Knight Rises comes the animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. Find out how the animated movie holds up, after the jump…

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1

It has been 10 years since the last Batman sighting. Bruce Wayne has retired, and Commissioner Gordon is weeks away from retirement too. However a brutally violent new gang, The Mutants, have plunged Gotham in to fear…can a 55 year old Wayne still fill the cape and cowl, and reclaim his city?


Based on Frank Miller’s seminal 1986 series, this animated movie sticks incredibly closely to the source material. Right from the opening race scene you know how this adaptation will work. Some of the shots are straight from the book, but naturally they have to expand the panels in to full scenes, and it works very well. You also notice the lack of voice over/narrative boxes, as a result there are a few things that (to the readers of the book) feel like they’re missing. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the movie (to those that have not read the book) is actually missing anything.

As previously said, this movie sticks very closely to the original book. The events unfold in the same order as they do in the book. And while they’ve had to cut a few things out, namely all the “talking head” news people, and a lot of the Commissioner Gordon’s replacement stuff, that keeps the story tight and flowing well. They have also added a few little pieces, particularly noticeable in the action scenes, but they are in keeping with the tale, and add to the feel of the movie as a whole. Batman’s smoky rooftop attack is an action standout, and it is a great example of a welcome addition to the movie.


The animation style is not overly similar to the art from the books, but again this is a necessary change. The art in the books is great, but doggedly sticking to it for the animation would just not work. Instead it is more in keeping with the animation style of Batman: The Animated Series, which is a brilliant choice. For instance, the design of the Mutant Leader is still clearly the Mutant Leader, but now he looks less ridiculous. And there are still most of my favorite panels from the book in this movie, but now they flow together and have a realism that the comic didn’t quite have.

The voice work is very good here, too. Peter Weller brings a real intensity to both Batman and Bruce, never drifting too far in to the grumbly vocal stylings of Bale. The supporting voice cast do an excellent job of fleshing out the universe. Unfortunately, sometimes they have some lame dialogue to get through, particularly the Mutants, but for the most part it is taken straight from Miller’s page so it is, at least, respectfully lame.

So…This is a great adaptation of a great comic book. The story is the same, and it ticks along very nicely. The action is expanded upon, and is very exciting. This is highly recommended, and I am looking forward to Part 2.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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