Movie Review; The Dark Knight Rises – Part 2 (2013)
Batman finale good enough; “Returns-Part 2″ stays true to Frank Miller classic
Nevin Jones | writer
In 1986, Frank Miller radically changed the way people viewed Batman with “The Dark Knight Returns.” He took the “World’s Greatest Detective” and dragged him down into the gritty, dark streets of Gotham.
His depictions of Batman and the Joker are the origin of the more mature characters we know today. In September 2012, Warner Brothers Animation released “The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1,” which features the first two books of Frank Miller’s original story. It was a good translation of the source material featuring gorgeous visuals and a solid voice cast.
However, even though it features the best moments of the graphic novel, the second half does not quite live up to the expectations set by Part 1 and the source material.
“The Dark Knight Returns Part 2” picks up a few months after Part 1. The re-emergence of Batman has brought Joker out of his catatonic state and he is looking to cause mischief. Meanwhile, Batman’s appearance is causing problems for the local and federal government.
The president of the United States asks Superman, now a willing pawn of the government, to enable him to covertly save lives, to intervene and deal with Batman by any means necessary. Tension builds throughout the movie, culminating in Batman’s two final confrontations, one against The Clown Prince of Crime and the other against Superman. All the main parts of the graphic novel are here, but some things just do not feel right.
The animation quality is, once again, top notch. DC Universe Animation really went all out in the production department. Watching Superman and Batman pummel each other in Crime Alley is a gorgeous sight, and something fans will want to watch for years to come. One of the major problems translating Miller’s comic to the screen is his use of the inner monologue. Without it, big moments in the comic are not capable of holding the same impact on screen. This hurts the final confrontation with Superman, but damages the one with Joker even more. The whole Joker scenario here feels rushed and the final moments between him and Batman are slightly changed to accommodate the lack of inner monologue. The end result does not carry the weight of the original material, but that might also be from the voice acting.
Peter Weller (“Robocop”) once again does the voice of 55-year-old Batman. The Joker’s voice is by Michael Emerson (star of “Persons of Interest”). Emerson’s performance was comparatively jarring. Granted, this is a more effeminate and ruthless Joker that we have never really seen before, but Emerson delivers what feels like a complete monotone. His voice just did not fit the part. As for other players, such as Mark Valley (“Human Target”) as Superman, Ariel Winter (“Modern Family) as Robin, and David Selby as Commissioner Gordon, they all do a good job. Conan O’Brien himself even recorded a cameo voice-over as a talk show host.
Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” is one of the best Batman stories ever told. While this adaptation is very loyal, some things just don’t translate well to the screen. Fans of the story will enjoy watching big moments like Joker in the tunnel of love and the Superman fight in Crime Alley, but in translation they lost some emotional impact. Although “The Dark Knight Returns Part 2” is still a great animated movie that Batman fans will enjoy, it still isn’t the show-stopper it could have been.