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Review: Batman The Dark Knight Returns Part 2

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“There’s nothing wrong with him that I can’t fix. With my hands.”

 

After what seemed like forever, the Dark Knight Returns to deliver the most important part of this story: The End.

And this comes as little surprise, I’m sure, but it absolutely delivered for me.

After setting the tone so perfectly in the first movie, most doubts were removed going in about how well the second half would fare. It wasn’t so much a question of accuracy, it was more a question of just how far would they take it? Certainly, I wasn’t the only one surprised to see Joker’s proto-Harley Bruno bouncing around the screen with swastikas on her ta-tas…

It certainly didn’t stop there, though. In fact, I think the major criticism I’ve seen of the film so far is that it was too devoted to its source. Things like the Cold War backdrop, the jabs at the Reagan presidency, Superman vs the atomic age and so on, and that it makes the movie harder to enjoy in a modern setting, and less palatable to newer fans.

I’d have to disagree. I’m very grateful that Superman didn’t take his marching orders from the Obama Administration before taking on North Korea, or even worse the Russian Federation. I’m grateful the Army Special Forces’ BlackOpsHawks didn’t dust off from Zero Dark Thirty to close in on the Dark Knight. And I’m particularly grateful the satire of the media and talkshows stayed closer to the 80′s, because any “modernization” of that would’ve inevitably lead to me having to check the “input” mode on my TV.

So, yeah. Reagan advises Superman using cheesy folksy idioms. The Evil Empire is still kicking ass and taking names, and the good guys still wear green. And Letterman gets a pass, albeit just barely. Some things just don’t need an update, just ask Jed and Matt Eckert.

This movie, just like the last two chapters of the book, up the ante in just about every way possible. In Part 1, the action was about as brutal as Western animation has ever seen, with the rib-breaking, nose shattering, mud-hole operating fights setting a new bar for brutality. Part 2 takes on the challenge, and makes for some of the most memorable fights Batman’s ever been animated in. In fact, if there are some among you who aren’t familiar with this half of the story, and plan on watching this with young ‘uns, I’d have to recommend screening it for yourself first.

The voice cast continues to impress, especially the very disconcerting and and subverted work Micheal Emerson does with the Joker. This is another area of dispute among viewers, and, sure, Joker has been done crazier, maybe even scarier. But this Joker is by far the creepiest version yet brought to screen. Mark Valley makes for an excellent Man of Steel, and actually makes him seem tougher and more likeable than the source material — the symbol-ridden “chat” he and Batman have on the Manor grounds was entertaining as hell. And Peter Weller seemed even more certain in the role of Dark Knight this time around. My only complaint would be that during the “blackout” scene, where Batman gives some of his most bombastic dialogue, Weller seemed more restrained than I would’ve liked. I mean, unless you’re Stallone, you can’t over-deliver a line like “I am the law!”

This is one of those movies I never thought I’d see brought to life, and I never, ever thought I’d see it done so righteously. If you’re a lifetime Batman fan, or Dark Knight Rises left you a little cold, you probably bought this on Tuesday. If you didn’t, hurry.

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Updated: February 2, 2013 — 1:09 am

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DisThunder

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