‘Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1’ review

TDKReturns

It’s easy to be one of those “the book is always better” people. Anyone who loves a pre-existing work and then sees an adaptation will only half-enjoy what’s on the screen because the other half of them is comparing the newest incarnation to the original. The fascinating thing about the live action Batman films (and any other superhero film for that matter) is that they haven’t tried to directly adapt a single story but have only tried to lift the core values of the characters and they move on to create something entirely new. Every fan has their own little checklist in their head of their favorite hero’s key features and as soon as you see that those demands are met (The suit looks okay? Batman doesn’t kill, right? Gordon still has a mustache? They kept the batsignal, awesome.) you can have a good time at the cinema. Nolan’s trilogy cherry-picked from some of the classics (it even stripped The Dark Knight Returns for parts) and because of that it got appreciative nods from fans who loved the odd reference or Easter egg. But if any filmmaker tries to take a specific graphic novel and translate it to film it will undergo enormous scrutiny. In those cases it’s no longer about appreciating an occasional reference– the flick either wasn’t true enough to the source material or it was too true to the source material and didn’t take enough chances of its own. So the fact that The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 still manages to please is quite the accomplishment. I’t’s tough for me to judge it on its own merits as if I have never read the book because this comic is so important to me that I’m subconsciously filling in the blanks as I watch the movie. It’s easy for me, and it will be easy for many of you, to be so giddy about seeing the pages of your favorite graphic novel come to life that you will be very forgiving of the flaws. And that’s a good thing. I think fans of the book are really going to dig this movie. Luckily I’ve seen the movie twice now with friends who never read the graphic novel and I was able to get their input as well and that pushed me to look at the film more closely so I could write this overly long and very critical review. I mean look at it, just scroll down a little bit and look at it, this article isn’t just an average “is the movie good or bad?” review, it’s a time-sink that’ll hopefully give other bat fans such as myself something to really sink their teeth into. So don’t let the length of this article scare you! I loved this movie and I highly recommend you all check it out. Let’s get on with it…

The Style

As much as I love the original graphic novel, I don’t think it’s pretty. The artwork ranges from absolutely stunning to ugly scribbles, all of which have nice water colors. Producer Bruce Timm himself said during the LA Premiere that Frank Miller’s Dark Knight looks different from panel to panel as if Miller drew these pages at breakneck speed. The crude pencils made it difficult to pin down just the right look for the animators to use throughout both movies. The foreign animators were doubly confused when they saw how fat Batman was and wondered if Timm and his crew were sure that this is how Batman is meant to be depicted. I’m happy to say that the look they chose for Miller’s Batman and every other part of this epic worked out nicely. I thought that the look and feel of the Animated Series “Legends of the Dark Knight” vignette was spot-on, but this exceeds the visuals of that much loved scene in every aspect.

Although the water colors of the comic are gone, the atmosphere and character designs ring true to the source material. This is a much cleaner, much more consistent interpretation of the graphic novel and an improvement, honestly. You can even make out what is happening during the opening race sequence now.

The Dark Knight Returns was this dark look at the future through the lens of the 1980s and this film stays totally true to that vision. Even the ridiculous design of the Mutant Gang remains the same. It’s been almost 30 years since this book was published and I think it’s evident that gangs aren’t going to look like skinheads who wear Devo sunglasses and dance to over sized boomboxes in the street. A live action film would’ve probably changed the look of these thugs, but because these films are made with love by fans for fans and it can be argued that you’ll suspend your disbelief more for an animated work, the original mutants are effective. And if their look had been changed or if they didn’t use that bizarre slang of theirs then I imagine fans would’ve been livid.

All of the characters feel right no matter how big or small their role was in the original book. Batman is a huge, hulking, and kind of fat man with exaggerated wrinkles on the brow of his cowl and the newscasters whose names you’ll not recall match their comic book counterparts right down to the mismatched earrings. Lana Lang even shows up and, having seen the film in a full theater at the premiere, can say that her appearance elicited the one of the biggest laughs from comic fans (the biggest cheer was when they perfectly recaptured the cover of The Dark Knight Returns as Batman dove before lightning). The only drawback for me was the way the animators stayed too true to the size discrepancy between Batman and the ever so tiny Robin. Just look at how big his hand is:

I imagine that’s why they left out the full page embrace scene. It likely looked even more jarring on film.

Some of the absolute most impressive visuals of the film come in the action scenes. Special care was taken to deliver the most realistic and brutal brawls that have ever been in a DC Animated film. Jay Oliva, the director, wanted each character to have their own unique fighting technique. Batman’s movements are modeled after Jeet Kune Do while the Mutant Leader moves like an MMA fighter. But as impressive as the fights were, my favorite thing about the action sequences, especially Batman’s first night back on the street, is that the filmmakers perfectly captured the horror aspect of the Batman persona. Batman is scary. To crooks, he’s this horrifying monster emerging from the shadows to tear evil apart and then vanish again. The live action films have never done a very good job of capturing this. Tim Burton’s opening scene in Batman probably came closest and the Batman Begins scene with Falcone’s men was alright too. Speaking of live-action and animated comparisons, there’s even one moment that didn’t happen in the book where each flash of the criminals gun offered a new glimpse of Batman dodging and growing closer and closer. This was interesting because the same thing was done in The Dark Knight Rises and I have to wonder which script came first? The Dark Knight Returns crew wouldn’t have had any idea what Nolan’s crew was up to and vice versa.

The Score

The movie has a brilliant score by Christopher Drake. Although I have trouble picking which DC Animated film I like best, I’m confident that this movie has the best music of all of them. The big drums and swelling sound during the more iconic moments will remind you of Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack from the Nolan Trilogy, but the use of analog synthesizers give the movie an appropriate 80’s vibe that you would expect given the source material.

Voice Talent

Batman  —  Many groaned when they heard Kevin Conroy wasn’t returning for this, but I was bummed when I learned that Michael Ironside didn’t reprise the role he played in the classic episode “Legends of the Dark Knight” (which was also written by Bob Goodman, who wrote this film). Thankfully, Peter Weller makes a great old, angry Batman. He has that deep, resonating tone that I wanted to hear from Frank Miller’s Batman. However, Weller doesn’t give the character enough emotional range. Some of the lines aren’t delivered as well as I would’ve liked. When Batman is supposed to shout at a pair of cops that “These men are mine!” the line falls flat as Weller delivers it just like every other line, a low rumble. I also would’ve liked some variation between the Bruce and Batman voices, but overall Peter Weller was a fine choice for this film.

Jim Gordon  —  I’m still on the fence about David Selby as Gordon. It’s a very, very different voice from the one I heard in my head. He delivers the lines fine and all, but nothing about the voice commands my attention. I know that’s never been as important with Gordon as it is with Batman, but there should be more strength in Gordon’s voice and Selby’s portrayal doesn’t stand out the way that say Brian Cranston’s did in Batman: Year One. Selby’s Gordon sounds very grandfatherly…but not very Gordon to my ear.

Robin  —  Ariel Winters is solid as Carrie Kelly/Robin, but let’s face it– there wasn’t that much expectation there. Nobody heard that WB was doing a Dark Knight Returns film and immediately thought “They better get Robin’s voice right!” They could’ve cast any teenage actress or even gone with Tara Strong and I would’ve been satisfied.

The Mutant Leader  –  Gary Anthony Williams (that’s right, the man who played Uncle Ruckus) is a fine voice actor who not only plays the Mutant Leader but he voices one of the many news anchors as well. Williams has great range but he plays the role too similarly to how it was done in the Animated Series episode “Legends of the Dark Knight”. I’m not quite sure how menacing the Mutant Leader is meant to be. In both the book as well as the film, this character is a loud, annoying bully when he’s free, but when he is locked up in jail he’s depicted as absolute evil. The hammy way the lines are delivered in the mud pit and the city dump take away from the scariness of the character. In fact, the Mutant gang itself doesn’t sound that threatening.

The Mutant Gang  —  There isn’t anything these kids won’t do. They are the worst of the worst, the most vile punks the streets have ever seen yet their voices never chilled me to the bone the way I thought they would. Sure there’s the Rob and Don characters who are there for comedic relief, but as for the guys who threaten Bruce under the lamppost or the guys who are about to attack Carrie at the arcade– these guys don’t feel like the nightmare that the frequent news reports make them out to be. Thankfully the unseen creep with the blue glasses (not a mutant) sounded just as creepy as I wanted him to and just like in the comics we never see his face. In my mind the blue glasses guy is one of the most memorable psychos Batman has ever brought down. It’s interesting how such a brief little moment is so chilling.

Alfred  —  It must be rough to work in showbiz and have a name like Michael Jackson but not be THE Michael Jackson. Nevertheless, this man did a great job as Alfred but honestly as long as you have a British accent and have a solid deadpan delivery, I’ll be okay with your Alfred voice. That said, just like in the graphic novel, I’m amazed Alfred is still alive and it only solidifies him as the biggest bad ass in the DC Universe. Batman may retire, but Alfred never quits.

Two-Face  —  This was a great performance, I only wish there was more of it. I always hoped that a film adaptation of this book would devote more time to Harvey, but sadly that wasn’t the case (in fact, one of the Harvey scenes was cut). This is one of the most tragic characters in the Batman mythology and the voice actor, Wade Williams, definitely put a lot of pain and loss into his performance. Wade Williams also played the Warden of Blackgate Prison in The Dark Knight Rises.

Losing the Narration

This has been discussed the most and I don’t want to sound like I’m beating a dead horse here so I’ll keep it short: they should have used at least some of the book’s narration as voice over for the film. It didn’t need it throughout the whole thing, but just some occasional voice over would’ve made this movie flat-out mind blowing. Frank Miller’s work, more than almost any other comic book writer’s work, is dependent on its rich narration and The Dark Knight Returns is arguably his most famous creation. First person narration is more of a literary technique. In film you should show what your character thinks and feels through action as opposed to voice over. But Batman is a character who internalizes everything and noir narration is a major aspect of his comics. The whole reason we have a Robin is because Batman had nobody to talk to and writers at the time had not figured out to use boxes in the comic to write inner monologue. So they gave Batman a little buddy who asks questions so the reader can find out what’s going on.

And if there should ever be a Batman movie that uses voice over, this is the one. This is the THE Batman narration book because some of the most memorable lines to ever come from any Batman comic are in this book’s panels. Some of them are lost and some of them are sprinkled into new scenes of dialogue to keep fans happy. But we lose the major insights: the aches he feels as he struggles to what came so easy as a younger man and all the methodical details that go into every strategy he has to bring down his foes. The only way that his age is conveyed in the film is by having him grunt more as he climbs things. Look at Sin City, would you have enjoyed it more or less without the voice over narration? That’s a Frank Miller work too, by the way. What about Fight Club? Adaptation? Memento? The Shawshank Redemption? Trainspotting? Taxi Driver (which is the most true to life Batman movie you’re ever going to see), and Goodfellas? All great films that use voice over narration. Is it an easy-out for the writer? Yes. But who cares? When done right it’s totally justifiable. I’m not saying we should rely on it in all Batman movies, but this one should’ve had it. One of the best scenes in this film is when Bruce is struggling with his inner demons and he ultimately decides to give in to the Bat and put the cowl on again. That’s the only scene that uses voice over. We also lose the theme of Batman wanting to die a good death which is repeated time and again in the book and emphasized to both begin and end the story. Is the movie still good without voice over? Yes. It’s very entertaining and elicits a great deal of emotion. Omitting it took balls and Bob Goodman does a good enough job without it that those who haven’t read the graphic novel won’t even notice that something is missing. But as a huge fan of the source material, I can’t help but feel that one of the work’s most defining characteristics has been lost.

Other Changes from the Source Material

Don’t read this section if you haven’t read the book or watched the movie yet.

There really aren’t many major changes to the original graphic novel. There are minor tweaks here and there for time or to make the Batman’s return wholly good for the city, but it still feels like the comic-come-to-life. I’ll cover some of the lines that were changed to be more politically correct, entire scenes that were cut, lines of dialogue that were lost, character traits that were omitted, and the biggest alteration that actually affected the plot.

Avoiding Offense  —  One of the funnier lines in the movie comes from a TV interview with an average man on the street who rants about how Batman is A-Okay. He hopes the Batman goes after his landlord next! It’s funny, but the original line wasn’t landlord– the guy wanted Batman to go “after the homos next”. That line still gets a laugh out of me because I have no problem laughing at a bigoted jerk, but I understand that some people might see a scene like that and think that Batman comics are anti-gay or something. Society has a hard time nowadays separating the voice of a particular character from the message of a film or TV show when the character in question doesn’t get their comeuppance to make it clear that the character was in the wrong. I doubt All in the Family would be as popular today because most folks wouldn’t realize we’re laughing at Archie Bunker’s racism and not with it. By losing the homo line it just becomes a guy telling a joke instead of an example of how stupid most of the people in Gotham are. And that’s a pretty big part of the first two chapters of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns: people are stupid and impulsive, politicians are indecisive and incompetent leaders swayed by opinion polls and human rights groups, the media is more interested in sensationalism and being first to report a story rather than informing the public with facts, liberals are too soft on crime and out of touch with the common people, psychotherapy doesn’t work, and society is crumbling because we aren’t acting like men anymore. Of course by pointing out all those things it makes it sound like The Dark Knight Returns was trying to be a more political comic than it really is. I’ve heard The Dark Knight Returns described as a right-wing fantasy before, but I think those folks are focusing too hard on the subtext. Those conservative views are definitely in there, but that’s not what the book is all about. Frank Miller’s more recent work on the other hand is far, far more preachy and the man himself has gone a bit crazy. That being said, the more conservative views are still here in the film but they have been watered down further. What is omitted almost entirely is the negative impact of Batman.

Cut Scenes  —  I was very pleased to find out that the filmmakers retained the TV News commentaries from the graphic novel. But one of the more important uses that they had was updating us on brief glimpses into the lives of normal Gothamites and how (Nolan fans will like this) Batman’s dramatic example shook them out of apathy. One of my favorite looks at the average Gothamite is also one of the most heartbreaking scenes in any comic and it was cut. I understand why it was cut because it’s not totally necessary to the story– people understand Gotham is terrible and you don’t need to beat viewers over the head with that (but it could also be argued that we get that Batman misses his parents so we didn’t need the original scene with Bruce going to his parent’s funeral and seeing Batman in the coffin). It’s this moment where a single mother has been saving all her tips so she can buy her son a paint set because his teacher says he has real talent. The paint set is in her purse and she’s holding it as she rides the subway thinking of how scrounging every penny for weeks will all be worth it when she gets home and watches her child create something beautiful. It’s then that a pair of mutant gang members try to take the purse and she fights them for it tooth and nail. Harder than she’s ever fought for anything in her life! She ultimately gets the purse back right as the train stops and she falls backward as the doors open. The train leaves, she picks herself off the ground and reaches into her purse to feel if the paint set is still there. Right when she feels something hard and metal– boom. The mutant members had planted a bomb in her purse. Chills, I tell you. Chills.

But it’s the moments that show how people have changed in response to Batman that really felt like they were missing. Mention of the baker who rushes out to beat some hoodlums with his rolling pin is retained in an abbreviated way. That guy was inspired by Batman to do what’s right. But the man who dresses up in a makeshift bat costume and tries to shoot a gangster is cut from the film. There’s a lack of emphasis on how Batman brings out both good and bad in Gotham, but hopefully that will be addressed more in part 2 as the Sons of Batman gang rises. Also cut is a scene that’s key to showing how the news media sensationalizes stories for ratings. It’s a scene in which a crazed man goes into a porno theater and shoots and kills several of the audience members. Frank Miller took us in that guy’s head and we saw that this fellow was deranged. It was also abundantly clear that his motivations had nothing at all to do with Batman! Yet, the following panel after he opens fire is of a news anchor saying that the act was Batman-inspired.

Cut Lines  —  I can understand why the filmmakers wanted to cut out the narration and it’s nice that they still managed to slip in some of the best inner monologue lines into the movie’s spoken dialogue, but some of the lines that I looked forward to most were actually spoken in the book and cut out here. In the book, when Batman’s hand bursts through the floor and the thug looks down into the darkness as the embodiment of vengeance grips his ankle, Batman says “Welcome to hell.” and then rips the thug down into a world of pain. Here he says nothing. It lacked that extra punctuation that made the act so cool in the book. The other line that I missed greatly is one that shows just how nuts Miller’s Batman is and how much he enjoys scaring criminals. A henchman with important information is bleeding to death, crawling away while crying about how Batman can’t harass him like this, that he has rights. Batman looms over him and says, “You’ve got rights. Lots of rights. Sometimes I count them just to make myself feel crazy. But right now you’ve got a piece of glass shoved into a major artery in your arm. Right now you’re bleeding to death. Right now I’m the only one in the world who can get you to a hospital in time.” That line is here, but it’s been neutered of all its insanity and malice.

Lastly, and there are many more lines that were cut but these are the ones that carried a lot of weight for me, the final line of the first chapter is change. The exchange in the book goes something like “Look at me.” to which Batman replies, “I see a reflection” but here it’s dumbed down to “Nothing can change what I am.” to which Batman replies, “You and me both.”

Change of Character Trait  —  There seems to be a rule in movies that went into effect in the 90’s: good guys don’t smoke, unless you show that they are trying to quit. Gordon isn’t chomping a cigar throughout this one, he’s chewing his way through an entire packet of nicotine gum.

I Believe You  —  This is one of the most memorable moments from the book because it looks an awful lot like Batman not only kills, but kills a woman. And he does it with a gun!

This is something that had never been seen before. When put in a situation where a child will die, Batman committed murder to save the innocent (we saw something similar in Nolan’s The Dark Knight). In the animated film version of this controversial scene, Batman doesn’t kill. Instead he shoots the firearm out of the hostage-taker’s hand and then knocks her out with the butt of the rifle. This scene felt odd to me not because it goes against the book, but because of the mixed message that comes from the following scene. Batman finds out that the mutants are getting their guns from a military general who needed the money for his wife’s cancer treatment. In the book Batman finds the general already dead, having taken his own life out of shame. But in the film version Batman shows up, lectures the general, and returns the man’s gun to him almost suggesting that the he commit suicide. Batman walks out of the office and down the hallway (which is awfully empty for a military compound and Batman doesn’t seem to give a damn about being seen) as we hear a gunshot. Batman keeps walking. So Batman values life enough not to kill the hostage taker, but he’s cool with the disgraced general blowing his own brains out? It could be argued that this change makes Batman seem even less noble than in the original book.

Two-Face’s Plan  —  Again, do not read this if you haven’t seen the movie yet or read the book. I can’t stress that enough. Bob Goodman, the screenwriter, did an awesome job of hyping up the Joker for the next film. The Clown Prince of Crime never awakens until the film’s final scene and his return acts as a great teaser for Part 2. Those who have read the books however, will recall that the Joker snapped back to consciousness much earlier and began to not only plot his escape but ways to screw with Gotham without even leaving Arkham. One of those plans involved a simple bomb maker named Abner who had been hired by Two-Face to make a couple of large explosives. You see, the therapy didn’t work for the newly released Harvey Dent and he’s just as sick as he always was and must now return to his impulsive life of crime only now his monstrous side has no physical manifestation. In the book, Joker tells Abner to sabotage the bombs so they explode prematurely. As a result, when Two-Face thinks he’s holding the Gotham towers for ransom, he really only has 2 minutes to live and it’s all because of the Joker.

This can’t play out the same way in the film. Joker is still catatonic when Two-Face is on the loose and there’s no reason for Abner or anyone else to tamper with the bombs without creating all new scenes that deviate from the source material. Yet in order for events to play out the same way as the book, the bombs have to explode prematurely. This is the major hiccup of saving the Joker’s return for the final scene reveal. So what happens is, after we see a Batman Begins inspired demon hallucination scene (the fear toxin was in the original book, the vision was not), Batman opens up the first of the two bombs and mutters that Two-Face has set the bombs to the shortened time span himself because he wants to die. This does not work for me. Two-Face is angry and miserable and he wants to take down the two biggest symbols of duality with him (the Gotham towers), that’s fine. I do like that but the filmmakers retained the scene in which Harvey goes on television to ask for ransom and that’s what makes it all fall apart. Had that scene been cut it would’ve made sense. Instead, Harvey still goes on television to demand money. If his goal is truly to die and take countless innocent lives and Gotham’s two biggest structures down with him, why attract any attention other than to say, “Screw you Gotham for trying to change me. Now I’m going to blow up your buildings. Bye!” and then end it? He would kill more people if he didn’t give any notice and if it was the last thing he was ever going to say to the city, wouldn’t he make the speech more meaningful than “I want 22 million dollars.”?

Run time

One of the major criticisms I’ve seen from fans who don’t want to give the film a chance is the short run time. The movie is 76 minutes long and without at least 14 more minutes of film many don’t see it being worth buying the DVD/Blu-Ray. And since the movie only adapts half of the source material it can also come off as a cash-grab. I think the cash grab argument is only half right. It’s smart to break the movie up into two parts and make people pay twice for the whole story. But I also think that breaking it up into two parts is highly, highly necessary. In fact, I’ve always felt that this story would work best as a 4 part miniseries so I always wanted 4 films. Not 2. I always assumed that someone would expand on each part and take more creative license. That’s just how I saw the story as being structured. There’s no central plot to The Dark Knight Returns beyond Bruce wanting a good death and finding a new life. It’s essentially four different adventures of old, angry Batman bundled together. Each part has rising and falling action all its own and if it were combined into one whole film you would end up with at least a 2 hour long movie with 4 different setups and 4 different climaxes. That sounds exhausting. And what’s so wrong about 76 minutes? You know what else is 76 minutes? Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. 76 minutes precisely and nobody complains about that being too short because we grew up with it, it has a special place in our heart, and we don’t think to criticize it over length because it satisfied. The Dark Knight Returns is 76 minutes and it left me satisfied. It’s fine.

Bonus Features

The Blu-ray (which is the best deal) includes the following exclusives:

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Digital Comic  —  This is pretty worthless. I’ve not seen a less enjoyable way to read a comic than this. It’s tough to navigate, it only fills the very center of the screen, and it’s just plain uncomfortable. I appreciate that they tried to give movie viewers a glimpse of the source material, but it would’ve been better if they just added a miniature comic inside the packaging as a bonus and, say, a coupon for a few bucks off the full graphic novel?

Preview of The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2  —  This was a great way to tease the next installment. It offers just enough insight to get you excited about what’s to come without giving away any of the really big moments. You hear Michael Emerson’s Joker laugh, but you never see The Joker in action. You’ll also hear a clip of Mark Valley’s turn as Superman, but in the same way you only get interviews and brief sketches and storyboards with no real footage from the film. This was the highlight of the bonus material.

Her Name Is Carrie…Her Role Is Robin Featurette  –  This is the meatiest behind the scenes footage available for this particular film and it includes interviews with the likes of Bruce Timm, Grant Morrison, Jay Oliva, Michael Uslan, Bob Goodman, Ariel Winter, and more. It’s good, but it would have been great to see featurettes like this for every character, not just Robin. They touch slightly on some of the themes of The Dark Knight Returns and how it came to be, but it’s too condensed. And the one person whose insight would be the most interesting to hear isn’t present. Where is Frank Miller? Of all the people I want to hear talk about this film, Frank Miller isn’t here!

2 Batman: The Animated Series episodes  —  Both of the Two-Face origin episodes are featured for the first time ever on Blu-Ray, and that should be exciting because these are two of the very best episodes from that series. However, it wasn’t adapted very well for Blu-Ray and there’s this ugly pan-and-scan thing going on that makes the episode hard to watch. I had couldn’t enjoy it and felt that the DVD version still looks better until they do a proper Blu-Ray for that classic show.

Sneak Peak of Superman/Batman Public Enemies  —  This was an odd choice for bonus material. This isn’t one of the more recent DC Animated films nor is it one that would particularly appeal to the darker Frank Miller crowd the way that Batman: Year One would have. I saw Superman/Batman Public Enemies…but I don’t remember it.

Batman and Me: The Bob Kane Story  —  A surprisingly long documentary about Bob Kane that goes into detail about what his personality was like, his relationship with contemporaries like Stan Lee (who talks quite a bit in this), and how the idea of Batman came to be. It’s kind of interesting and also kind of infuriating because Bill Finger is only mentioned for a minute, maybe two. However, it does touch on how Kane would often exaggerate and change his life story just to make it sound more interesting so it doesn’t paint him as a saint either. If you want to learn more about Bill Finger, I suggest you read Bill the Boy Wonder.

Overall

I like to judge any creative work by how eager I am to experience it again. I know that I’ve enjoyed most of the DC Animated films that I’ve seen but there are only about three of them that I’ve gone out of my way to watch more than once. This is one of those movies that I’ll definitely want to watch again and again and it might just be my favorite Batman animated film right behind Mask of the Phantasm. Although the narration is missing, my favorite lines are gone, and it feels more like two different stories clipped together (which it is) than a complete story, it’s very respectful of the source material, has a perfect score, and it looks better than the original comic did. There are so many great moments here that make this a movie that every Batman fan should own and I can’t wait for part 2 which should be out around February. And if you read this article all the way through, congratulations. We made it!

SCORE: 8.5/10

Related: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Reviews

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