Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 cover

The latest original DC animated movie is Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1, out yesterday. No review for you this time — due to my move and the resulting confusion over address changes, I didn’t get a copy — but here are some images.

I figure we all know the story already, right, since it’s based on the industry changing Frank Miller graphic novel. (Which once upon a time was a business-changing miniseries that first carried the Prestige Format, but you have to be old to remember that.) What we care about is … how does the animation look?

Based on that trailer, they’ve captured some of the iconic panels, but they’ve smoothed out the art style and lost Miller’s unique blockiness. The result looks more generically animated than I hoped — but I’ve only seen a few clips, and I’m not sure how Miller’s distinctive style would translate in motion. I kind of wish that they’d created something that used video as uniquely as Miller’s book used print at the time, but this isn’t that kind of art project. I’m also concerned that they may have lost the meditation on age and the death of an idol in favor of a story that will be taken as a typical good guy/bad guy tale, only with more violence. But then, that’s what happened to the book, too.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 cover

Oh, and the voices are also important. Batman is played by “fanboy demi-god” (according to the press release, love it!) Peter Weller. They remind us he was RoboCop, which suits this project, but he’ll always be Buckaroo Banzai to me. One of the girls from Modern Family, Ariel Winter, is Robin (my favorite part of the grim story); Commissioner Gordon is David Selby, whom I’m not familiar with; and Michael McKean (yay!) is Dr. Bartholomew Wolper.

Robin Carrie from Dark Knight Returns Part 1

The Blu-ray contains the following special features:

  • a Sneak Peek at Part 2, due in 2013
  • a new Featurette “Her Name is Carrie … Her Role is Robin”
  • the documentary “Batman and Me: The Bob Kane Story”, which originally appeared on the early animated DC release Batman: Gotham Knight. It’s an odd choice, given how Miller’s version of the character had almost nothing to do with Kane; plus, we’re finally beginning to realize how much people other than Kane had to contribute to creating the Batman who’s lasted this long.
  • The “Two-Face, Parts 1 and 2” episodes from Batman: The Animated Series

Batman from Dark Knight Returns Part 1

That’s a disappointing, scanty list, since they could have done so much neat stuff talking about how revolutionary the story was and the affect it had on comics overall. (I’m coming to the conclusion that I don’t want to see this story animated; instead, I want a documentary about 1986 in comics and the projects that changed the industry then.) There is also a bare-bones DVD edition available; the two-disc DVD special edition isn’t available until November.

Commissioner Gordon from Dark Knight Returns Part 1

I don’t know what’s going on here, but check the product placement.

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