Frank Miller’s savage take on the Batman saga continues with the second part of the Dark Knight Returns series. The story moves on from where the first installment had left off. The joker coxes his psychiatrist Dr. Wolper to believe that he has recovered from his maniacal traits even cons him into taking him over to a TV talk show. Once in the show, he subjects the audience and the show hosts to his brand of entertainment. Gotham has a new commissioner in Yindel who furiously pursues the arrest of the Batman. The president on the other hand is displeased with the resurfacing of the Batman and calls upon the Man of Steel to convince him into slipping back into retirement. A full blown war breaks out between the US and Russia over an Island which brings the Gotham city to the brink of destruction and utter chaos when one of the nukes launched by the Russians triggers a nuclear winter. In the midst of all this the man of Steel who is merely a pawn in the hands of the president is dispatched to put an end to the Batman who just seems to be too big for everyone else.
If you think The Dark Knight Returns part 1 was smashing, wait till you get your hands on this one. Every frame is dripping with
heightened emotions, breathtaking action and picture perfect imagery. The complaint that I had with the previous part for not adapting the visual style of Miller still remains but that doesn’t take anything away from the wonderful work done by the DC animators. Looking at these two movies from a standalone point of view will leave nothing to complain as far the animation is concerned.
The many subplots wonderfully converge and result in the final climatic battle between the superman and a man who just would die. The finale will hot you like a ton of bricks. The heavy armor worn by Batman will justify up to some extent his matching superman punch for punch. The clever twists in the tale and the introduction of some interesting characters will only increase the charm of this wonderfully written saga. Oliver Queen aka The Green Arrow makes a brief but important appearance. He holds the key to the final climax and also the subsequent resurrection.
The music though less dramatic than the first installment is a live-wire. There is an orgasmic feel to the way the sequences buildup with the music working its way up through the nodes and coarse through you veins to reach a point where it starts pounding on your heart. If both the movies however to be combined and made as one with some minor editing, I truly feel that it deserved a theatrical release. The animation as I mentioned earlier is wonderfully done. The post-apocalyptic Gotham, almost all the action sequences, the superman-Batman showdown and the Batman-Joker showdown are easily the high points. The sequence when batman and superman face-off, there is incessant snowfall which coupled with the gloomy exteriors produces a striking picture. This review would be incomplete if it’s bereft of the mention of the Joker. Easily one of the most influential villains of our times, the Joker is in his element. He is crazier than before and the killing spree that he embarks on will scare the daylight out of many.
DC has raised the bar for direct to video animated movies over the years. With films like Under The Red Hood and Year One, our appetite and taste for such cinema has reached an all-time high. After a prolonged wait for the adaptation of Miller’s work, The dark Knight Returns clearly satisfies and justifies the long wait. I hope in years to come we will be treated with numerous more of such magnificent films. For now, we can busk in the glory of the Dark Knight Returns for he does return in grand style.