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Review: The Dark Knight Returns 1 and 2 Animated Film

I disliked this animated film. It felt like a very botched adaptation of Frank Miller's masterpiece.

Out of the voice cast, the only ones I think they got right are Michael Emerson as the Joker and Ariel Winter as Carrie Kelly. Those two really nailed it. Peter Weller's voice is so flat and smooth and monotone that he just sounds like... well, like a robot. He doesn't sound like an old Batman, who I figure would be more rumble-y and coarse. Gordon's voice actor was also a wrong choice, because I felt he sounded like someone's elderly grandmother. It was oddly high pitched and feminine. Just didn't sound right.

Right from the get-go, I could tell that the production was off. The opening scene of Bruce racing the Neumann 500 looked like it was out of a damn video game. The CGI race cars just looked so cheap and primitive and awful, it was insane. You could tell that they just did not have a budget to pull it off. Came out looking horrible.

Again, like I said before, Peter Weller's Batman voice just doesn't sound good at all. It's even and flat and you don't get much emotion out of it. Old Batman shouldn't sound like RoboCop.

There's odd stylistic choices that just don't jibe with what I know of the story. For example, in this adaptation, Martha Wayne looks like a blonde bimbo trophy wife for some reason? That made no sense to me and just felt distracting. It was certainly not that way in the Miller comic.

You get lots of scenes that are directly lifted from the comic, but they're delivered shoddily and lose so much of the impact that they had in the comic. For example, the weatherman delivers the line "Like the wrath of God, about to hit Gotham..." in a disengaged, casual tone. There's nothing real or revealing behind that delivery. On the other hand, in the actual comic panel, the weatherman utters the line "Like the wrath of God it's headed for Gotham..." with this solemn worried expression on his face, as if he can feel the very thunder in the angry night announcing his presence.

Indelible moments and lines from the graphic novel are inexplicably toned down and lose their original intensity. When Batman goes after the robbers after their car crashes into the construction site, he turns to the cops and loudly declares "THESE MEN ARE MINE!" in a big booming voice. In the comic, at least. In the animated movie, Peter Weller states "These men are mine" in a flat and almost bored delivery. It just loses all of its punch and power. Disappointing.

When Batman and Two Face crash through the side of the skyscraper, there's a wonderful shot in the comic of lightning lighting up the darkness of the room. Yet in the film, this is completely removed and we're left with regular dark lighting. Just one more example of how shoddy and low budget this project was. The ending of the whole scene was also changed. In the original, Batman embraces Harvey in an emotional moment. In the movie, this is changed into Batman just standing there awkwardly. There's no reason for it and it hurts the resolution of the scene. I don't like it.

The scene where Batman glides down onto the television studio and has to take on Yindel and the GCPD is a great example of how they completely botched the execution and created something ridiculous and stupid instead. In the comic, Batman glides down and immediately takes cover behind a wall and throws out his smoke pellets, completely obscuring the entire rooftop in a haze and enabling him to move out and take out the police through concealment. In the animated movie, this doesn't happen and he just runs around in full view of the police riflemen, casually knocking them out one by one while they all have clear shots and lots of time to shoot him dead, but somehow don't. It's completely unbelievable and loses all sense of reality. Instead of marveling at Batman's ingenuity and tactics, we're just astounded by the GCPD's stormtrooper-esque marksmanship skills. It's a laughingstock of a scene and completely took me out of the movie.

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