Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (2013) Review

This is how you make a batman film! Fanatically close to its source material, filled with classic DC dark noir styles and a fantastic voice cast. I have always loved the Batman stories and this one is based off a favourite arc of mine, The Dark Knight Returns. Christopher Nolan actually based some of the stories in The Dark Knight Rises of this arc and you can clearly see the influence, Nolan picked well. The visuals in this are great, with fights and brutal the scenes can get, this one really doesn’t hide from the violence and blood. The characters are done brilliantly from Batman to The Joker, the voicing and characters development is some of the strongest I have seen in most live action films. The films are split in two and are both available to rent or buy.

Batman: “No, Joker. You’re playing the wrong game. The old game. Tonight you’re taking no hostages. Tonight I’m taking no prisoners.”

Batman The Dark Knight Returns - Banner

After the death of his protégé Jason Todd, billionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne decides to retire from his Batman persona. Ten years later, Gotham City is overrun with crime and terrorized by a gang known as the Mutants. Batman’s victory becomes public and the city’s inhabitants are inspired to stand up against crime. Gordon retires after meeting his anti-Batman successor, Ellen Yindel. In Arkham, televised reports about Batman bring the Joker out of his catatonic state. Feigning regret for his past, Joker convinces Wolper to take him on a talk show to tell his story; he makes plans for his escape with his old henchman who supplies him with mind-controlling lipstick. Meanwhile, Superman—who works as a government operative in exchange for being allowed to covertly help people—is asked by the President to end Batman’s vigilantism. Framing these events is a growing hostility between the USA and the Soviet Union over possession of the island of Corto Maltese.

Tim’s Film Reviews Recommended

Story: 95%       Acting: 85%      Visuals: 95%      Dialogue: 95%

Action/Noir: 90%      Style/Sound: 95%      Characters: 95%

Total: 92%

 Batman The Dark Knight Returns - Poster

The story is fantastic because it is so distinctly different from other super hero stories. Set in what looks like the 80’s with the cold war looming over the second part of the story, we also have a president Reagan giving orders out to Superman. Easily the darkest of the stories I have seen animated, considering the story of a retired batman coming back to a world worse than when he left it, it would make anyone darker and forces him to go to a darker place than ever before. This darker path will have our hero going up against two face, joker and even long-time ally Superman. The voice acting was done by some great people who really worked well with the characters; my favourites would have to be Peter Weller as Bruce Wayne, yeah Batman voiced by Robocop! Michael Emerson as The Joker and Mark Valley as Superman.

Batman The Dark Knight Returns - The Joker and Batman

Getting a good cast really helped to sell this film to me because the story is far more character focused than most and so having good actors behind each role is necessary. The dialogue in this film was great as you would imagine from a film where you get an older and darker Batman going up against not only his greatest enemy The Joker, but also having to fight against his once greatest ally Superman. I don’t want to ruin anything because these are some of the best scenes of the film but my favourite scenes of dialogue would have to be The joker and batman in the love tunnel (that sounds terrible) and Superman and Batman near the end of their massive fight. I’ll talk more on the big fights and dark visuals a bit later on.

Batman The Dark Knight Returns - Batman vs Superman

I really liked the visuals in this film but it wasn’t just the wonderful style of the animation but also the viciousness of some of the darker moments for example the Batman vs. The Joker fight was particularly harsh to watch knives and guns all over and they hold nothing back. The first part of the story has a great scene of Bruce having to fight a mutant gang leader in which he must fight to regain his image of fear to criminals of Gotham city. By the second part he must be ready for the penultimate fight against the vastly more powerful Superman. Whilst the fight its self is brutal and action packed it’s also set around a fantastic idea of a theme within DC that Bruce fears Superman’s vast power over the people he protects and there is beautiful scene at the end of the fight which is fantastic to see and delivers a great line from Bruce. As for the other parts like sound and influences in the visuals from the comics, they have been done with care and it means every superman punch feels real and every feature on the characters faces tell a story.

Must Watch Trailer:

The best reviews I found would be these “Extremely violent animated addition to the Batman story” Brian Costello. “When it comes to films about Batman, the one story from the comics that everyone seems to want to see fleshed out on screen is Frank Miller’s classic. I’m here to tell you that this film delivers on its potential, and is worth checking out. Now I can’t wait for the second part” Mark Bell. “It’s highly respectful of the work on which it is based, yet also a solidly entertaining effort in its own right” Mike McGranaghan.

My favourite scene would be some brilliant set of dialogue but to be honest you can’t beat that glorious fight between Batman and Superman because it was just epic! They take down half the city and its brutality on a superhero scale.

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About Tim The Film Guy

Very opinionated about films!

25 responses to “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (2013) Review”

  1. Dude Bumshak says :

    Loved watching this! Very true to the source material. And Robocop, errr… I mean Peter Weller does a surprisingly good Batman voice 😀


  2. VictorsMovieReviews says :

    I did not know they made this. I’m a fan of the graphic novel so I guess I’ll be a fan of this.

    Great review.


  3. Three Rows Back says :

    Loved it. Nicely reviewed.


  4. Eric @ The Warning Sign says :

    I can’t wait to see both of these. Would you recommend reading the novel first?


  5. thelastsongiheard says :

    I LOVED the graphic novel… I first read it in 1989, after the first Batman movie came out… I’ve only seen part one but I was very impressed and pleased by it’s faithfulness to the original material. I can’t wait for part 2! I wouldn’t normally buy the blu-ray of something like this, but I’m definitely considering it.


  6. Bubbawheat says :

    Having come into this completely fresh, both of the fights in part 2 came as a surprise and they were some of the best Batman scenes I’ve seen in a long time Brilliant movie.


  7. Victor De Leon says :

    Both films rule. The animation, VO’s and story are all top notch here. DC Animation at it’s best. Great write up, TIm!


  8. keith7198 says :

    I’m really wanting to see this. Is there a French version available?


  9. atothewr says :

    I need to see the second part to this, the first was fabulous. When I was watching the behind the scenes stuff on this movie they said it was so violent that if it was live action it would be R. Wow. Nice review.


  10. Erik says :

    Excellent review! I think Part I and Part II the best Batman animations out there so far. Great story, superb animation and full of action.


  11. Sir Phobos says :

    I have the graphic novel, but for some reason I can’t remember, I stopped reading it half-way through. I should go back through it and then watch this on blu-ray. Hell yes.


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