Thursday, October 4, 2012

DVD Review: Batman The Dark Knight Returns Part 1

So I just watched the new DC Original Animated film, based on Frank Miller's classic Batman tale, and I got to say, it's pretty good. I think the biggest problem is that these films just aren't given the budget I think they deserve, so sometimes the animation just looks like a animated kids show, a bit stark and not very atmospheric, but mostly, it does the job, and does it pretty well.
It's a pretty faithful adaption, they were smart to split it into two films. It would've been a lot to cut out to try squeeze it into one film. As it is, I miss some of the smaller character moments, or even secondary and tertiary characters, like Merkel, who was always in the background with Gordon, but is missing from the film.
It's pretty cool to see some of the iconic images from the comic translated tot he screen, it gives you a buzz. Batman looks cool. They've done a good job of bringing Miller's design into the animated world. Miller has a bit of a shaky line, a bit loose maybe. That doesn't work in animation, as far as production goes anyway, so the design is not as sketchy, but he's bulky, angular, definitely reminiscent of the comic. So are the rest of characters, from the TV reporters and vox pox constantly popping up, to Gordon and Robin, they all look like an animated version of The Dark Knight Returns should.
One other thing I'm not sure is working for me is Peter Weller's performance. The problem is we're pretty familiar with the comic, and the way we've been reading it in out heads all this time a certain way, so when he doesn't give a line reading like you've imagined it, you feel it. For me, it's a little too understated, and there was once where I was reminded of Robocop, which I don't think is the right feel. Batman is human, driven by passion, I think that needs to come across.
Also, there was a little interesting thing that they did, which is kind of dickish move. In one scene where a convenience store is being robbed, there are some comics on display. They are clearly seen, and they are all early Alan Moore comics, published by DC. Considering DC and Alan's relationship, it seems like a kind of childish move to show them, unless it's a metaphor for Alan getting robbed, but somehow I doubt it. Maybe it was just the creators wanting to give props to some classic comics, but whatever it is, it's a bit hard to see it any other way than rubbing his face in it.
So while it's not the greatest thing in the world, it's still pretty fun for fans of the comic. I'm curious if the average person would enjoy it as much, but I wonder if the limits of the animation might just make them think it was just a kids show thing, when it's clearly not. Oh well, I'm looking forward to part 2, and think this is the best of the ones I've seen from DC Animation.

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