Give yourself a pat on the back if you were patient enough to wait and see if there would be a deluxe release! This version has both films for the price of one, all previous bonus features plus some new material, and it comes with a few collectible cards making it clearly the best option. As for the eager Bat-fans who bought The Dark Knight Returns when it was previously released as two separate Blu-rays, I’ll give you a few things to take into consideration before you rush out and buy the movie again. I won’t be discussing the film itself, I did that enough already. Instead, I’ll be linking you to my reviews of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 and Part 2 if this is indeed your first time hearing about there being a motion picture. These reviews are quite massive and I go into quite a bit of detail comparing the animated feature to the source material by Frank Miller:
The Deluxe Edition
The Deluxe Edition combines the two previous Blu-rays into a single 148 minute feature and it includes all of the bonus material from those releases as well. This longer version of the film hasn’t been expanded with deleted scenes or anything, it’s simply a merging of the two chapters into one seamless experience that doesn’t require you to get off the couch and change discs. However, it is missing a newscast from the opening scene of Part 2 that summarized the events of the previous installment (a wise omission since it’s no longer necessary with the films fused together) and it added text that clearly states how much time has passed between the two segments (3 months).
The New Stuff
Masterpiece: Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns
This new documentary narrated by Malcolm McDowell features the subject, Frank Miller, briefly but is mostly comprised of other talented people from the film and comics industry praising the work of the renowned writer and artist. The documentary is well-over an hour in length and is partly biographical and partly a celebration of Frank Miller’s work– especially The Dark Knight Returns— and what it has done to rejuvenate the entire comics industry. Thankfully, the documentary doesn’t go overboard and give Miller sole credit for making comics mainstream again nor does it credit him as the only creator to make Batman gritty, a common misconception. Even Frank Miller points out how responsible Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams are for returning the Caped Crusader to his dark roots long before The Dark Knight Returns was ever even an idea in his head. It’s fascinating to hear Frank Miller tell first-hand how he broke into the comics industry and to hear his thoughts on the Batman/Superman dynamic as well as how the concept for Carrie Kelly came about. However, I felt that while the Frank Miller interviews were good, there simply wasn’t enough! We do hear from a variety of interesting people like Grant Morrison and Michael Uslan describing what they love about this highly important graphic novel, but it’s really Miller who I most want to hear from. And more importantly, I want to hear what he thinks about THE MOVIE. Has he seen Jay Oliva’s animated feature? What did he think about it? How does he think it compares to his original vision? Was there anything he would have done differently? Was there anything he thought the film did better? Masterpiece: Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns was decent, but as a fan who has read the book many times and several essays and articles about the book there really wasn’t anything all that revelatory about it and I was underwhelmed when Miller’s opinion about the movie was never addressed.
The most glaringly absent feature from the previous releases is finally here and while the Blu-ray case says that the commentary is given by director Jay Oliva & writer Bob Goodman, it neglects to mention that voice director Andrea Romano provides her input as well. Getting these three together was a masterstroke and I was honestly sad when the movie was over because it really felt like the trio could’ve continued talking for several hours more. The rich commentary takes us deep into the craft of every speaker from Jay Oliva’s storyboarding and editing to Bob Goodman’s writing process and Andrea Romano shares stories from the recording booth that are highly entertaining. Interestingly, this was Andrea Romano and Bob Goodman’s first time watching the 2nd half of The Dark Knight Returns so it’s a real treat to hear their reactions to what happens on screen as they see it for the first time. Jay Oliva, however, has seen the movie countless times and provides some of the most surprising information. You’ll learn about the painstaking attention to detail that went into the fight choreography, the symbolism behind some of the imagery and even the film’s color palette, what scenes were cut, details regarding the 80’s inspired score by Christopher Drake, and Jay Oliva also takes the time to point out all of the film’s hidden Easter eggs. It’s terrific commentary and the best special feature of the whole lot.
4 Exclusive Collector Cards
These are cool, but I don’t know what to do with them.
DVD + Ultraviolet Download
Like the other releases, this one also comes with an Ultraviolet download and a DVD copy. If you’re interested, I’m having a contest on Twitter right now for my Ultraviolet Code. The rule is you have to be one of my followers to win and you have to get 10 trivia questions right. It’s going to take a while, I’m not making it easy.
This movie has a very, very high re-play value and its price is more affordable than the earlier Blu-rays. You can find this on Amazon right now for $20 bucks while the original part 1 and 2 both cost $20 a piece. It’s a great deal. Plus you’ll be saving space on your mantle or bookshelf (surely you have enough Bat-films by now to call it a “Batshelf”) now that both movies come in a single case.
This movie should be in every Batman fan’s collection. There’s not enough new stuff to make it a must-buy for fans who already bought parts 1 and 2, but then again those folks could always spread the Batman-love by purchasing this and giving away the previous Blu-rays as gifts. If you were patient enough to wait for the Deluxe Edition then I wholeheartedly recommend you run out and pick this movie up today.