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on September 29, 2012
Warner Premiere and DC Comics have topped themselves with the Blu-ray / DVD release of "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1." After the release of "Batman: Year One," the only logical choice for the Caped Crusader's next solo animated feature was evident. It was time for Frank Miller's other beloved and critically acclaimed graphic novel to be adapted for the screen.

Frank Miller's "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" not only had an effect on the entire comic book industry, it influenced director Tim Burton to make a serious film adaptation based on the super hero that turned into a multi-billion dollar franchise. Many fans and historians would say it is responsible for the popularity of comic book movies today.

It's been ten years since Batman's last appearance in Gotham City. Bruce Wayne has retired the cape and cowl for a life of tedium and drinking. He meets occasionally with Commissioner Gordon for drinks and to talk about the state of the world. Gordon knows Wayne's secret and is one of his only confidants.

Bruce begins having horrible nightmares about his parents' deaths and witnesses Gotham City digress even further into the depths of depravity at the hands of a new criminal syndicate calling themselves the Mutants. He's driven to suit up once again to take on the homicidal maniacs and show the citizens of Gotham City that they need not live in fear any longer.

"Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1" is the best animated feature film DC and Warner Premiere have released. There's no other way of putting it. It feels epic and holds a cinematic flare that the other entries in the DC animated super hero movie franchise haven't accomplished. That's not to say they aren't good or worthy of praise. However, this takes the medium to a whole new level.

The animation is top notch and, although it doesn't mimic Frank Millers artwork for the book, there's a certain respect towards the unique style of the illustrations reflected in the film. Batman is larger than life and as bulky as the Hulk, but isn't quite as "abstract" as Miller's interpretation of him in the graphic novel. This is as close to a perfect representation of the book as I can imagine.

My only complaint is that there are a few spots where the plot jumps around a bit and gets a little hard to follow. They jump from one thing to the next so quickly with brief or no explanation. The viewer is left to just keep up and embrace the fast pacing once the movie gets rolling.

Peter Weller does a wonderful job bringing an older and weary Bruce Wayne to life. When he hits the streets for the first time in ten years, you can hear the satisfaction in his voice at re-embracing his long-forgotten mission of ridding the streets of Gotham City of the filth and crime that overtakes it.

The Blu-ray version of "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1" consists of quite a few treats for fans. There's a sneak peek of Part 2 and "Batman / Superman: Public Enemies." Two featurettes are included entitled "Batman and Me: The Bob Kane Story" and "Her Name is Carrie... Her Role is Robin." There are also two bonus cartoons from "Batman: The Animated Series" featured. A section of the "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" digital comic is found as well.

"Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1" will be the animated feature all future entries into the DC franchise will be measured by. They've set the bar high with this one. With a spectacular looking and sounding high-definition movie experience and some satisfying special features, this is a recommended purchase for all super hero fans.
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on September 14, 2012
I own this blu-ray. Not sure how I got it delivered early from another company but I did and I can tell you that this is the finest Batman film ever made. It is up there with Batman Mast Of The Phantasm.

As a life long fan of Frank Millers Graphic Novel I was excited to see this following Batman Year One which also served the source proud.

There are a few differences from the source. Most notably, Millers trademark voice over narrative of Batman is gone. In the comic we really got into Bruce's head and Batman's. The good news is that I did not really notice this until I got my novel out after viewing. This does not detract from the great story. Another difference is the scene with the general who supplies the Mutants with weapons. There is an additional scene where Batman confronts the general rather than finding him dead.

The film finishes in a perfect place with the fight with the mutant with the incredible line "...this is an operating table and I'm the surgeon."

The voice talent is top notch. I'm a Kevin Conroy fan but Peter 'Robocop' Weller does a great job and its good to hear and see Batman and he truly belongs in the animated universe. The problem with Nolan's live action films is that they are great crime dramas but everytime Batman is on the screen it is embarrassing. It is a man in a suit with a stupid voice. It never worked for me.

This animation however, is a great experience and I cannot wait for part 2.

Extras on the blu-ray include a sneak peek at part 2, a couple of episodes from the animated series (Two Face) and a series of trailers.

Buy it now.
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on September 9, 2012
This is a heads up for Daniel the retired cop who will not buy this because it is a scam...Daniel, this is not in any way associated with THE DARK KNIGHT RISES..this is an animated version of the Frank Miller comic book/graphic novel from 1986 that tells the story of Batman who comes out of retirement when he is 55 because Gotham is under seige by a gang called the is not in any way related to the summer film of this year...because as I have said before; is an animated version of the Nineteen Eighty Six comicbook of the same title....ok? You got it? Good...
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on October 8, 2012
First off, wasn't going to write a review but was INFURIATED by Amazon customers that rented/bought this and gave it 1 Star. Most if not the majority of them were customers that thought this was the Nolan movie version. This Batman Dark Knight Animated film is suffering from low to bad reviews due to IDIOTS that lost the ability to read the "Product Description" portion which clearly states "Format: ANIMATED". Amazon needs to adopt some way to Vote off reviews that are NOT related to the product itself due to the INCOMPETENCE of some "reviewers" ability to read and inform themselves of what exactly they're purchasing.

Now on to the Animated movie. AMAZING!!! Having read the Novel I was excited to see this come out as the original Batman Animated series from the 90's did tease us with small clips here and there and gave us a taste of what it would be like to see the Novel animated. Now backed with outstanding performances from Peter Weller (RoboCop movies) who plays an aged Bruce Wayne/Batman and an almost exact frame to frame shot sequences from the comic books, it gave me chills. Whether you are a Batman, comic book fan or not, if you consider yourself a fan of good quality story telling and well done animation this is a great buy. Keeping this short and simple, lots of memorable moments that really stick out. Hearing Peter Weller's voice rumbling through my surround sound set up with one of my all time favorite quotes from the movie gave me goosebumps: "You don't get it son, this isn't a Mud-Hole, it's an operating table...and I'm the surgeon."

Already waiting to pre-order Part 2.
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For years, shows like Batman: The Animated Series and Batman: The Brave and the Bold have given us tantalizing glimpses at an animated adaptation of Frank Miller's groundbreaking Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. If you had asked me what comic I most wanted to see adapted into The DC Animated Universe, it would have been without question "The Dark Knight Returns." Now finally, close to thirty years after its publication, I finally get my wish.

And it is ... disappointing.

"The Dark Knight Returns" is one of the greatest American comics ever published. That isn't idle praise. Frank Miller tapped deep into the collective unconsciousness to deliver a myth that continues to be an influence to this day. It is an incredible work of art. And DC had to have known that they needed to treat the story with a little more reverie. I am actually confused at how it got such a poor treatment. There are so many problems with this release, from the main film to the bonus features.

First off, and most obvious, is the decision to split the film into two parts. There is nothing behind that but money. DC knows they have a hot property on their hands, so they want to sell it to you twice. But, "The Dark Knight Returns" is still only a 4-issue comic, only slightly longer than Batman: Year One which was adapted to a single film. In order to justify the two-parter, they pad the story. Every scene of dialog is stretched just a little bit further. All of the conversations have just a few more lines thrown in, a few more long pauses. Not only is this awkward, but it completely throws off the pacing of the story. The scene with Commissioner Gordon and Bruce Wayne sharing a drink occupies half a page in the comic, but here it is stretched out into minutes of dialog. And not good dialog. Boring dialog.

And the bizarre thing is, they cut out much of the actual great dialog already in the comic--or monologue in this case. All of Bruce Wayne's internal monologue, the very thing that drives the story, that gives depth and meaning to the dystopian landscape, that makes "The Dark Knight Returns" rise above, has been removed. All of his comments on his body, on the weight of age--gone. That famous scene where he does the back-kick? "There are seven working defenses from this position. Three of them disarm with minimal contact. Three of them kill. One of them ... hurts." Yeah, we still get that scene, but without the play-by-play. Just Batman kicking the guy behind him.

I really don't understand how that decision could have been made. Was there a meeting? Did someone propose "Hey! You know all of that great, famous monologue in "The Dark Knight Returns? " The stuff everyone quotes when they talk about the book? Why don't we just nix that and write a few more scenes of Wayne and Gordon having drinks?"

Seriously ...

And the voice acting. I had the same problem with "Batman: Year One," which looked great but just didn't have strong voice actors. Peter Weller does Batman, and I think he pulls it off well. Everyone else though ... Ariel Winter doing Carrie Kelly just doesn't sound right. She sounds like a pampered rich kid, with no edge or spirit. And all of the other voices; I know Miller put in some dialog that is hard to pull off. The Mutant-speak isn't exactly normal English. But these actors sound like a bunch of frat guys doing a parody of "gangster talk." It sounds so forced and fake, like they don't believe a word they are saying. When a killer steps up behind you and says "I need you mommie. Make me feel safe." it should send a chill down my spine, not a chuckle.

Art and animation-wise, things look decent. They didn't try to imitate Miller's style at all, but I am OK with that. I think they could have been more creative with the television cut-scenes, and more moody with their use of shadows, as well as making better use of some of the visual impact of the comic. Gone is the iconic scene of Batman holding the flag-covered corpse of the General. Gone is the scene towards the end of Harvey Dent's face "matching." But all in all, the animation is solid, and if this were just a regular Batman animated show I would give it full marks.

Now the bonus features (and I am talking about the Blu-Ray here). This is another "What were they thinking?" moment for me. There is almost nothing here about "The Dark Knight Returns." The Carried Kelly feature is cool, talking about a female Robin. But where is the "Frank Miller and Batman" featurette? Where is the "1986: The Year that Changed Comics" short? Or something like that. Something to show the impact and gravity of the comic they are adapting. Instead there is an (admittedly interesting) piece on "Batman and Me: The Bob Kane Story." What? Bob Kane? Umm, that's cool and all, but Bob Kane had nothing to do with this.

I have the 25th Anniversary leather-bound edition of "The Dark Knight Returns," and it is filled with newspaper articles and stories about the impact the comic had, the firestorm of press it created, how it directly lead to the creation of Tim Burton's Batman film. There is a wealth of material available. I am always amazed at how little effort DC spends on these bonus features to lead people back to the source comics. It's like they don't want to acknowledge Miller's contribution at all, or how this single comic revolutionized the industry. Maybe they are scared of leading people to the original "Dark Knight Returns" because then they will see what a poor adaptation this is.

Instead we get "The Bob Kane Story." Which again, is admittedly cool. It's funny how all of these comics professionals try to tip-toe around the truth, and bite their tongues to keep from shouting out "Bob Kane was a jerk!" It's even funnier than not all of them succeed. And to hear Stan Lee call someone an egotistical, self-promoting gasbag without even a trace of irony is hilarious. But still, this is "The Dark Knight Returns." I want to hear about Frank Miller. I want to hear about THIS comic.

And the two "Batman: The Animated Series" episodes included: They are about Two-Face. That's cool. But why not "Legends of the Dark Knight" from "Batman: The Animated Series" or "The Battle of the Superheroes" from "Brave and the Bold" that featured scenes from "Dark Knight Returns?" I don't get it. Even the cover of this DVD. Why didn't they use the famous cover from the comic? Sigh ...

Am I getting Part 2? Of course I am getting Part 2. Am I going to be disappointed? Yes. That seems to be par for the course nowadays.
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on September 13, 2012
I usually go into DC movie translations with the little to no expectations of matching their source material. That being said, if you never read Dark Knight Returns, you may be fortunate enough to enjoy this movie as much as I did. It was much better than most of their offerings, and I feel as though the average joe and new fans alike will enjoy another telling of The Batman, even if it's only to hold them over until they can buy the live action movie from the Nolanverse.

In short: I think they set a nice tone throughout, the voice acting is solid, and the soundtrack has a nice edge that helps to add tension to the movie.

Anyway, Bats is old. It's several years into the future and a gang of mutants have taken over the city. After much thought and several nightmares, Bruce Wayne decides to put the cowl back on, and go after these criminals. He takes a side step to handle a plastic surgery "fixed" Harvey Dent then takes on the mutants leader one on one. He also awakens an old nemesis in the process and sets the movie up for its sequel. I know die hard's will probably shrug their shoulders and turn up their noses to this, but I for one am more than happy getting as much Batman as I can. But like I said, I think the average and newer fans will enjoy this just as much as a junkie like me.
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on October 19, 2012
No cheap puns. No lousy love story. Just bone-crunching fun.
I'm not a huge fan of comics but I have read the Dark Knight Returns. For the most part the film stays true to the story arc. It isn't a scene-for-scene/line-for-line representation, but it does capture Mazzuchelli's art, mood and style quite well. The fight scenes are fantastic.

The soundtrack is brooding and takes some noticeable cues from Hans Zimmer's musical scores. I enjoyed it and would even buy a few tracks if they were available in mp3.
Peter Weller's low, brawny, full-bodied voice was a perfect choice for Batman. Gordon's performance was a little disappointing and a little wooden in places. The slang from the mutants sounded pretentious and unnatural at times, but the filmmakers did the best they could with Miller's writing. Frank Miller just doesn't have very good ear for dialogue.

Overall, this is excellent for a cartoon though and an improvement on previous batman animations I've seen. And this IS a cartoon intended for teens and adults. I wasn't expecting some of the violence from the comic to be carried into the cartoon. But some gruesome elements may catch you off-guard if you haven't read the book, such as a scene where one of the characters is heard committing suicide off-screen.

Most of the negative reviews come from morons who thought this was live action. Too bad. There's no scam here. And if you can't read or pay attention to what you're buying you deserve to be ripped off by people who are more intelligent. Congratulations, you get the Darwin award.
Otherwise, unless you have some neurotic, emotional attachment to Frank Miller's story exactly as it is presented in the comic, you won't be disappointed.
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on September 26, 2012
I've been a fan of this graphic novel for close to 20 years now. In fact, it's my favorite graphic novel of all time. So, I was stoked when I found out they were making it into an animated film. Naturally, I pre-ordered my copy, so I got it via UPS today. It was really cool of Amazon to ship it "early" so that it was on my doorstep on the day of its release.

For starters, this is not the same as the graphic novel, but it's close. Obviously, much of the "text" is missing, mostly the stuff dealing with Bruce's and other characters' interior dialogues. They could have had the movie constantly narrated to include this text, but I hate constant narration, so I'm glad they didn't. And, since it wasn't narrated, some of the interior dialog text has been changed into things the characters say, others are just expressed through actions. Either way, it gets the point across without a constant narration. Aside from that change, there are a few other minor changes. Some parts are missing, mostly smaller parts, stuff that's not necessary to move the story along. Some parts have even been moved to different parts of the story, I guess to change the flow slightly. And there's a bit of added dialog that wasn't in the original comic. Aside from those few minor changes, the story is mostly the same as the graphic novel. People who are gung-ho about the movie makers sticking to the source material exactly will be disappointed by this, but I have no issues with it. I thought the story came across well.

Animation wise, this film is along the lines of the other animated DC shows and films, which is to say it's good. The comic has more detail to it but, when you consider how many times something has to be drawn in a comic VS how many times it has to be drawn in an animated movie, it's easy to say why they did this.

The voice acting was good. I'm a big fan of Kevin Conroy as Batman, but Peter Weller did a great job. So did everyone else. I watched the sneak of part two on the DVD and I'm looking forward to Michael Emerson portraying the Joker in part two, even though I'm a huge fan of Mark Hamill as the Joker.

Anyway, I enjoyed it a lot and I'm looking forward to part two.
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on October 21, 2012
Really thought this was outstanding. The Dark Night Returns is the basis for the Batman that we know today. Frank Miller changed the perception of Batman forever with this graphic novel (which I have in plastic bags tucked safely away in the basement) from the smiley happy Super Friends version to the dark tortured soul that we see today. This animated feature does deviate a bit from Miller's vision, but excellent story, excellent voice acting, animation, even the music. This is definitely worth your time and money. In fact, after I rented it, I went out and bought the DVD. Only bummer is that we have to wait a year for Part 2, but this really needed to be longer than the typical 70-80 minute standard format allows for. Hope they keep up the quality in Part 2. Can't wait to see Superman in this story.
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on October 6, 2012
Absolutely nailed it! Near flawless translation of the graphic novel that changed both Batman and comics forever. Can't wait for part 2!
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