Review: Batman – The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 / Cert: 15 / Director: Jay Oliva / Screenplay: Bob Goodman / Starring: Peter Weller, Michael Emerson, Mark Valley / Release Date: June 3rd
This is probably the most faithful attempt so far at bringing Frank Miller’s milestone graphic novel to the screen – a project so ambitious, it had to be spread over two movies. Where Part 1 covered issues 1 and 2 of the comic (i.e., the Mutants), Part 2 tackles issues 3 and 4, with Batman taking on The Joker and then Superman. The film chooses to leave out some of the grislier elements (no bodies of dead boy scouts here), but without making you feel like they’ve toned it down too much.
For the most part the film gets it right. The animation is great, moving more toward anime than DC's usual cartoon fare. The casting is perfect with Peter (RoboCop) Weller’s Batman, Michael (Person of Interest) Emerson’s Joker and Mark (Human Target) Valley’s Superman being the obvious standouts. Emerson in particular brings Miller’s effeminate Joker to chilling life and ranks up there with the best of the screen Jokers so far.
Where the film falls short, slightly, is in the decision to leave out the Batman's interior monologue. While you can understand the reason why, it does mean a lot of the great zingers from the comic are missing. It would almost be worth a double dip if they were to release both parts together as one movie, with a voiceover put in. The only other minor quibble is with the artwork on the case, which is just awful and feels like it’s for a different film.
Extras on the American release that we saw include a couple of short but interesting documentaries, one on Batman vs. Superman and the other looking at the Joker. There is also a longer feature on how they animated and adapted key scenes from the comic. As with all the DC Animated releases, the disc is rounded out with three episodes from various Batman cartoons (The Animated Series and Brave & The Bold) and a look at the next DC animated feature, Superman: Unbound. It’s short but whets the appetite for the film.
Extras: See above