Frank Miller has written some very well known Batman comic books: Batman Year One, All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder (very overrated), Batman/Spawn, and of course, The Dark Knight Returns.
Bruce Timm through Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has brought us a two-part film adaption of The Dark Knight Returns. You will see a difference in Frank Miller’s version of the Caped Crusader as compared to Chuck Dixon, Denis O’Neil, and even Grant Morrison. This Batman is brutal and has no problem maiming and seriously injuring his rogues.
The story of Part 1 goes that a gang of murderers called Mutants have risen in Gotham. They want nothing more than to raze Gotham City to the ground and put retiring Commissioner Gordon’s head on a pike. Bruce Wayne, old, aged, and drunk, sees all this happening ten years after his retirement. When a supposedly cured Harvey Dent is released from the Arkham Home For The Emotionally Unstable disappears, that draws Bruce Wayne out of retirement and back into the mask of Batman. Soon after handling Dent, he goes after the army of Mutants, and receives a new Robin in the process.
Part 2 follows the Joker going on another killing spree, but Batman and Robin step in to stop him. Meanwhile, the US President is planning on a war between the US and the Soviet Union. He wants to bring Batman down because of the world does not accept “their kind” anymore, so he turns to the one person who might be able to stop him: Superman. It leads to a dramatic showdown between the two epic heroes and one you will not be able to forget.
A few commentators have complained because in the movies, there are several “news” segments that are meant to show the reader and/or viewer the condition of the world Frank Miller has made for us. These comments are obviously said by people who have not read the graphic novel. I have and the news commentary is exactly where it needs to be. My only complaint about the film is the voice of Commissioner Gordon (David Selby). The voice does not match the character and I found it very frustrating.
As for the films themselves, they are very well-made and steers from the “pulp” like art of the graphic novel and instead uses a more modern animation. They seem a little fast paced at some points and then slowed down at others, but all in all, I did enjoy it. In my opinion, Part 2 is better. Please remember, these are NOT family films. Observe the PG-13 rating seriously. They have some bloody scenes and the Joker in particular is much more psychotic than in other films.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Profanity, excessive violence, kidnapping, some blood and gore (especially the final battle between Batman and Joker in Part 2)