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New Batman movie comes to DVD

Animated film is based on book by Frank Miller

By Natasha Forsberg
On November 8, 2012


'Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part One" is a newly released animated adaptation of "The Dark Knight Returns" by Frank Miller, a prolific comic book writer who is also known for "300" and "Sin City."

It is directed by Jay Olivia and the screenplay was written by Bob Goodman. Originally released in 1985, "The Dark Knight Returns" has been inspirational to many works related to Batman, including Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises," which was released last summer. So naturally, comic book fans had high expectations for this movie.

Set in an alternate continuity, it's been 10 years since the last sighting of Batman (voiced by Peter Weller). But when a new gang called the Mutants starts to raise terror in Gotham City, Batman decides to come out of retirement.

The film has a nice cyberpunk aspect to it. You can tell that the source material is from the 1980s but in all honestly, that's part of its charm. The imagery of the futuristic Gotham City, the fictional hometown and crime-fighting turf of Batman, is gorgeous to imbibe.

Weller does a good job as Batman, who is fifty-something in this movie, although at times his voice seems more appropriate narrating a documentary than voicing an iconic superhero. His voice and Batman's bulky physique (more so than usually depicted) make Batman seem not entirely human.

Ariel Winters as Carrie, who eventually becomes Batman's new sidekick Robin, is wonderful in her role. She brings in a fun and youthful energy while managing to be intimidating and fierce. The voice acting of minor characters is at times awkward in parts but overall is well done.

Since this was written in the mid-1980s, some of the slang and dialogue, particularly spoken by the Mutant gang members, comes off as dated and cheesy.

Granted, this may not be the film's fault, since the crew was attempting to do a faithful adaptation, but they still don't make the dialogue work. Still, the mutants are fun to watch, and their leader, the main antagonist of the film, is threatening yet flamboyant in both personality and appearance.

The music is excellent and powerful, correctly portraying the intensity in specific scenes, while still managing to be memorable. The action sequences are not only a joy to watch, but they are also creative, particularly the sequence when Batman officially comes back to vigilantism after a decade-long absence.

We don't actually see him physically in motion at first, but rather a mysterious, mostly off-screen figure that attacks thugs and criminals. The movie plays up Batman as a dark, almost entirely mythical creature instead of the typical billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne route and it works.

"The Dark Knight Returns: Part One" is fun to watch even if you haven't read the original graphic novel or aren't even a big comic book fan. The film ends with a cliffhanger than segues nicely into the upcoming "Part Two," which is scheduled to come out next year.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part One

On DVD and Blu-Ray for more info

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