Growing us as a kid I often wondered how each of my favorite DC characters would meet their end. Would the Joker kill Alfred? Would Catwoman ever marry Bruce Wayne? When I first read Frank Miller‘s 1986 graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, I was absolutely blown away. Finally, I was reading how all my favorite characters met their end…in one way or the other. Director Jay Olivia and Warner Bros. Animation delivers a wild ride of smart comedy, bloody action and crisp colorful hi-def animation, that finally lets us watch the conclusion of my favorite DC characters in The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2.
When we last left off with the 2012 Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1, Batman had come out of retirement after 10 years to clean up the street of Gotham, recruited a new female Robin, defeated Two-Face, and beat the hell out of the mutant gang leader in a bloody mud pit brawl. The sequel pretty much picks up right where we left off. Now ex-gang members have united to form The Sons of Batman (a street vigilante mob ), a newly appointed Commissioner Ellen Yindel has taken over for the retired Jim Gordon and has put out a warrant for Batman‘s arrest, and the President of the United States (a hilarious interpretation of Ronald Reagan) has ordered Superman to head to Gotham and put a stop to the chaos. Little does the President know, the chaos has only just begun!
As usual I won’t spoil any key plot points, but what I can tell you is, you are in for one hell of a ride. From the Joker‘s desire to come out of his own retirement in stunning fashion on The David Endochrine Show ( Conan O’Brien), after discovering the return of his arch nemesis on TV while being held in a mental hospital. To a climatic bloody massacre showdown at a carnival fair. To an epic final “who’s better” battle between Superman (Mark Valley) and Batman (Peter Weller), to the fate of Alfred and the Wayne Manor legacy. You will hardly have time to catch your breath. The film moves fast! It’s right there with some of the best animated action films I have seen.
I really want to point out the superb job Warner Bros. Animation has done with nailing the 1980’s comedy of the graphic novel. I found myself chuckling quite of few times reading the words “all this and brains too” on the shirt of big breasted female news anchor, or my favorite line in the movie “…and the bad news? Those Russians sure are some sore losers,” by the President of the United States while being telecast from a “secure location” as a nuclear missile is heading towards America after having ordered Superman to put a stop to a violent military USA/Russia dispute.
The voice acting is pretty consistent throughout the entire film. Conan O’Brien‘s job on TV show host David Endochrine was pretty solid…all though you can somewhat tell he is reading a script in a studio, rather than being the smart quick wit self we have come to expect from Conan O’Brien Show. Many fans have been accustomed to the bar that was set so high with the past voices for Batman and the Joker by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil. Some may not care for the “Robocop” voice work for Batman by Peter Weller or the “different” voice work for the Joker (Micheal Emerson). Let me offer this advice…just go with it. What made the 1986 graphic novel so original was it was based in an alternate universe future Gotham City and I feel the voice acting for the Joker and batman really captures that “alternate universe” vibe of the novel.
This is a must own for Batman fans. The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 surpasses the first part in just about every way…which is saying a LOT. The pacing of the action and suspense is perfect, the comedy is hilarious, and the animation is colorful and gritty all at the same time. Special Featurettes include Superman vs. Batman: When Heroes Collide and The Joker: Laughing in the Face of Death, are just the icing on the cake.
I give The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 a wildly entertaining 4 out of 4 Cobra Chinese Stars.