Our hearts go out to the victims of The Dark Knight shooting, Sandy Hook, and the Boston Marathon.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Movie Review: The Dark Knight Returns, Part II (Animated)
I know, I said that would be my last post, and really it should have been. But The Dark Knight Returns Part IIjust came out, and I’d be remiss if I left all the critiquing to newbies. So here I am, coming out of retirement already. I guess some folks just can't stay retired.
Where's this wacky bunch when you need 'em?
First some bad news… they screwed up one of the best sequences in the book, The David Endochrine Show. You’d think with a professional like Conan on board this scene would really shine with zaniness, but unfortunately the joke goes over like a lead balloon. The host doesn’t look or snark like Letterman, Dr. Ruth is nowhere to be kissed, and Joker lacks that nicotine cool which made the scene so chilling in the first place. I’d have liked to see the scene as it was originally scripted. People zhould haf zex und zex und zex… all ze time, David!
As in Part I, the shaky-camera action sequences are a big saving grace. Watching an incognito Batman go hand-to-hand with Bruno in continuous motion really brings the comic to life. The movie starts to find its groove in the Tunnel of Love, which is beautifully hued in neon pink. Joker's final speech even includes some erotic double-entendres. Again, nice action sequences... Robin's lassoing helicopter rescue stands out to me as one of the movie's most memorable scenes.
They get a lot of stuff right. I was pleasantly surprised to see many of the little Robin in-jokes, such as You’re (Not) Fired, and even Figure I Will for the real die-hards. He’s Too Big also makes the cut, although it only makes sense if you've seen Gordon's speech in Part I. With the exception of some cringe-worthy dialogue sanitization (Hi-yo freaking Silver? Blow this stuffaway?), side characters like Captain Yindel, Oliver, and Abner are faithfully rendered. The President is still Ronald Reagan, and the enemy still the Soviets… thank God.
Things are about to get hairy in Gotham City
The final act is a mix of good and botched, favoring the good. There’s a lot that happens after the Coldbringer hits and they manage to squeeze most of it in. Batman's speech on guns seems especially timely. The climactic battle with Superman has been beefed up and delivers the goods, albeit at some expense to believability. Weller's Robo-Batman comes across as a bit too gentlemanly in his Grand Death - where's the cleated boots, the righteous indignation? At the funeral, Selina forgets to bare her claws, but on the plus side, Kent's wink is executed perfectly.
As in Part I, there's no voiceover, so we don't hear our heroes' thoughts. This makes it hard to deliver on in-jokes and themes like Superman's intro, or Gordon's secret, or that fantastic last line. On the other hand, it leaves something totally new and undiscovered for newcomers who read the comic after they see the movie.
In closing, The Dark Knight Returns: Part II is no iconoclast, but it is an entertaining, all-audiences movie. It's particularly good for younger audiences who haven't read the original and maybe never will. It's an instant daddy/daughter movie night - just add popcorn. Sure, it's mostly just a toned down version of the book, but hey, Miller is a tough act to follow. It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world where a poser like Bane prances around on the silver screenwhile The Dark Knight Returns goes cartoon-straight-to-video. But it’s a step in the right direction, and it will bring the story to a whole new generation, which is really what it's all about. And who knows? Maybe after a couple sequels to Man of Steel, audiences will finally be ready to see the Dark Knight take on the big blue schoolboy in live action, in full savagery, and on the big screen.