Wednesday, February 27, 2013


"Tonight, I am going to maintain order in Gotham City. You are going to help me."

If you haven't read my review of The Dark Knight Returns, pt. 1, you can find it here.

After the defeat of the Mutant gang leader at the hands of Batman, many of the former members have splintered off to form new gangs. Among them is one calling themselves the "Sons of the Batman", a vigilante group who hunts down and slaughters any street criminals they come across. Although it may seem as though crime has been contained in Gotham City, extensive press coverage of Batman's return has re-awoken one of the worst plagues to have ever befallen the city: The Joker!

Meanwhile, President Reagan is doing his best to instill a false sense of security among U.S. citizens while the military is fighting the Soviet Union for control over the island nation of Corto Maltese. At the same time, the press is putting pressure on him to figure out a solution to the Batman "problem", so he sends the most powerful man on his payroll, Clark Kent, to Gotham to try to calm the storm.

I said in my write-up of the first movie that aside from the absence of the main characters' internal monologues, there were no noticeable differences between Frank Miller's original story and this adaptation. For the most part, that's still true, but I was able to recall a couple scenes that had been removed for part two that I believe created a stronger emotional impact in the graphic novel. The one that stuck out most to me was when the Joker was shown applying his mind-control lipstick before appearing on TV, and he doesn't make any use of it. The scene that was cut out was one that I felt not only helped give the audience a chance to guess what the Joker's horrible new weapon could do, but also demonstrated how insane he'd become after ten years of catatonia. It's a deeply disturbing scene that I wish would have been left intact.

Unfortunately, I felt this adaptation was really dragged down by its portrayal of Clark Kent. I said in my review of the first part that the internal monologues from the comic weren't really necessary here, as enough of the exposition and emotion was plainly visible through the animation and acting. That's not the case with Clark, as all we're shown is that he now takes direct orders from the president, and will obey them all. This makes him seem very callous, out of character, and sometimes even a little sinister. In print, Clark is definitely an antagonist, but through his thoughts, we're able to discover that he's very reluctant to take orders from Reagan and only does it so he can continue saving lives while remaining within the government's favor. A little bit of that does shine through in the movie, but not until about halfway through his fight with Bruce during the climax.

The acting remains tight, with all of the actors from the previous part reprising their respective roles. I was especially pleased with Ariel Winter's performance as Carrie Kelly/Robin this time around, since she got to show a greater range of emotion. New cast members include Michael Emerson (Lost, Person of Interest) as the Joker, and Mark Valley (ER, Boston Legal) as Clark Kent. Emerson was absolutely perfect as the Joker, and while I could say the same about Valley's portrayal of Clark, the issues I mentioned earlier with the script really detract from what could have been an amazing performance.

This is a very well-done, though flawed conclusion to what started as a nearly perfect adaptation of one of the most important comic book stories ever published. If you've already watched the first half, you owe it to yourself to see how it all ends. For all the other Superman fans out there: don't fret, we're getting a new live-action movie and a new animated movie later this year.

The Dark Knight Returns, pt. 2 adapts the final two chapters of Frank Miller's ground-breaking graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns.

1 comment:

  1. I agree about Superman. Getting rid of the monologues was an interesting decision as it made the for a more cinematic version of the story despite having some drawbacks like these.