Blu-ray Review: ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ Works From Great Source But Lacks Soul

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CHICAGO – Is it possible that not all comic books are ones that can be adapted? Couldn’t some of them only really work on the page where the reader can fill in the grit and grime of a dark story like Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” in ways that a literal reading in animated form just can’t do? You see what i’m getting at. I love the source material for “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns — Part 1” and there are enough interesting ideas that survived intact the journey from page to screen but the adaptation of Miller’s work doesn’t hold a candle to just reading the original. Blu-ray rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

It’s interesting to see how clearly one can draw a straight line from Miller’s wildly influential vision of a Gotham desperately in need of a hero to Christopher Nolan’s take on the subject in “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight,” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” The storytelling here — which centers on an older Batman (voiced by Peter Weller) forced out of retirement to battle the still-prominent forces of evil — is strong, but the execution left me cold. Too much of the interpretation seems literal, like watching a motion comic, and Weller doesn’t have the personality to really fill Batman’s shoes. The piece doesn’t have that dark edge that Miller’s work did on the page and while I still look forward to the second film (and all DC Universe outings), I’d have to call this one a near-miss.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns -- Part 1 was released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 25, 2012
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns — Part 1 was released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 25, 2012
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Another night falls over Gotham City and with the darkness out crawls the crime and villainy from the shadows. The days of The Batman and other noble super heroes are but faded memories; violence and despair are now the harbingers of our time. But one event will set a change into motion: when Harvey “Two Face” Dent shuns a former rehabilitated life for a descent into corruption, an aged and weathered Bruce Wayne dons the mask and cape once more. With a stellar voice cast headed by Peter Weller, Ariel Winter and David Selby, this gritty DC Comics legend comes to life with unforgettable battles, thrilling chases and the promise of a better tomorrow for humanity, because there is nowhere for criminals to hide when the Dark Knight returns.

StarClick here to buy “The Dark Knight Returns — Part 1”

Special Features:
o Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Digital Comic
o Her Name Is Carrie… Her Role Is Robin Featurette
o Batman And Me: The Bob Kane Story Featurette
o From The Vault: 2 Bonus Cartoons
o Preview Of DC Comics’ Next Movie - Batman: The Dark Knight Returns - Part 2

“Batman: The Dark Knight Returns — Part 1” features voice work by Peter Weller, Ariel Winter, and Wade Williams. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 25, 2012. content director Brian Tallerico

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