The second installment of the animated film version of Frank Miller’s famed graphic novel picks up right where we left off and hits the ground running. The media sensationalism continues to give the viewer a better sense of the world Batman is reemerging in. The animators have clearly kept it in the ‘80’s as Reagan is President, as he is the graphic novel. Superman’s role is incredibly similar to the way in which Nixon uses Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen. Funnily enough, both Moore and Miller’s novels came out the same year. And both were big hits and now classics to those of us who were only being born. Anyway, Clark has become a willing puppet to the whim of the United States government and their Commander-in-Chief. Yet, he only does it to save us all from ourselves. Ever the boy scout. Superman is voiced by Mark Valley, who some may recognize from the first season of Fringe or even the short-lived comic-inspired Human Target. Valley more than holds his own with Peter Weller’s Batman. Also, reprising her role as Carrie Kelly is Modern Family’s Ariel Winter.
The Joker is back to his old self in spades, manipulating his therapist into getting him on national television. We all know this is a bad idea, even as we watch we are spellbound by his actions. Michael Emerson, from Lost and Person of Interest, voices the Clown Prince of Crime. His subtlety is what sticks out to me. He shows the Joker for the brilliant mad genius that he is, and especially his taste for theatrics. “This is the moment we’ve both been dreaming about,” he taunts to Bruce in their epic showdown. This is something true Bat-fans should appreciate. The fight to end fights for these two. One of them, will not be leaving alive. I’ve already given it away, but it’s still worth watching (and reading!).
Yet, even Joker’s showdown with Bats is slightly overshadowed by the threat of Clark/Superman carrying out orders from his Commander-in-Chief. Their own showdown is an epic brawl through Crime Alley that Gotham’s citizens won’t soon forget. Overall, both installments are incredibly accurate to the source material. It’s startling how well they’ve paid attention to this one. They knew they couldn’t change anything. It’s exceptional. I highly recommend adding it to your DVD and Blu-ray libraries.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2:
Reviewed by Chris Gering