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Review: Batman The Dark Knight Returns Part 2

batman-the-dark-knight-returns-part-2-poster1review by Rick Pipito

Where do I begin?  I had the opportunity to see an early release of Batman The Dark Knight Returns Part 2.  If you have been with me for a few months, you may have caught my review of the first part.  In that review, I gave it many compliments and more than my seal of approval.  So what did I think of the second part?  There are SPOILERS AHEAD, so if you want to judge for yourself, skip down to the last paragraph for my spoiler free rating.

I’m not sure what happened with this, but it is definitely a case of “the sequel didn’t stand up to the standards the first one set.”  Voice casting was horrible.  I still enjoyed Peter Weller as an older Batman, and even the Joker had his moments, but overall it was nothing to write home about.

Portrayal of the Joker was wonderful, aside from the fact that he barely laughed.  He was a psychotic maniac killer with no remorse.  Other than him though, everything was wrong (and like I said, the voice could have been better – he’s no Mark Hamill).

The story begins with Batman disguised as an old hag in a store.  A thug boss named Bruno robs a convenience store.  Bruno was drawn horribly.  The design was terrible.  She wore no shirt with only swastikas over her nipples, and looked like a man.  In fact, every female in this cartoon looked transgendered.  At the same time, most of the men could have been drag queens.  I’m not sure why this was done, but it was annoying.  So Batman as the old hag takes out the goons and Bruno, but for some reason never takes a second to remove his old lady disguise.  hmmm.  Wierd at that.

Then we get to a scene with Clark Kent meeting with Bruce Wayne.  Of course Clark hasn’t aged because he is Superman, while Wayne is old.  Anyway, Clark is standing on a hill with an eagle on his arm and his shirt unbuttoned.  Hair blowing in the wind, this iconic pose makes him closely resemble Fabio more than the hero he is.  It is so cheesy, it forced me to shake my head.  At the same time, Clark is now working for the President of the United States.  By the way, this story is taking place in the 1980s with Ronald Reagan as president.  President Reagan’s portrayal is downright awful.  From voice acting to design to seeming like a dimwit, it is off on all accounts and downright offensive for some viewers I’m sure.

Finally, we get to a great scene.  When the Joker appears on a television talk show, he murders everyone there.  I can’t express how great this scene was, and you really get the feel for who the Joker really is.  On another note, Batman is a fugitive and facing off against the Gotham City Police Department.  On the roof of the building where the murders are happening, the real heroes can’t work together for five minutes, and they just leave the scene without investigating below.  Oh, did I mention that Gotham police department is terrible.  They can’t hit the broad side of a barn, and never catch their targets.

Apparently Selina Kyle, who is old and obese at this point, is running an escort service.  Her cameo here was a little misplaced, but nice to see.  While the GCPD is more focused on taking down Batman, he is chasing Joker into a tunnel of love.  The amusement park sees its share of death.  Joker killing everyone by shooting everything that moves is awesome.  Robin’s battle, though short lived, with Joker’s goon ends greatly as well.

Now we get to the battle between Joker and Bats.  When Joker gets a batarang in his eyeball, he barely flinches.  No pain at all for some reason, and he continues on as if he were wearing an eye patch.  At the end of the battle, Batman breaks Joker’s neck, but it doesn’t kill him, it only paralyzes him.  Somehow even though he can’t move, Joker manages to finish himself off by making his own neck break sideways.  Batman burns his body and is losing his grip on who his is because Joker stabbed him a dozen times in the stomach.

BATMAN SHOULD BE DEAD!  but somehow he is immortal and manages to live only to fight Superman a few days later.  That’s right I said Superman.  After being caught in a nuclear explosion (the animation here is amazing by the way), Superman has not fully recovered.  Bats and Supes duke it out, and with a little help by Green Arrow (who now has one arm), Batman beats Superman.

There is a lot I’m leaving out here, because the build up to this moment is great, but I’m not sure how he can even stand against the man of steel since his guts are still sewn together.  Ridiculous and useless fight that proved only that Batman is still a force with which to be reckoned.

What really gets me is that Alfred dies of a stroke, which makes sense, and the Wayne manor is burned to the ground.  Oh, Bruce Wayne also dies of a heart attack, but at his funeral we find out he faked his death.  Not sure how he did this cause it doesn’t explain it.  In the end, Wayne, Robin, Oliver Queen and the leftover mutants from part one build a new hideout/cave underground as a Bat-army.

SPOILERS ENDED.  Okay, so I skipped a lot of detail, but didn’t want to waste any more of my time talking about something that really disappointed me.  Bruce Timm in my opinion is the king of superhero animation, but sadly this interpretation of the graphic novel is not worth the time.  Granted, this is only my opinion, but I’m a HUGE fan of ALL the DC animation series and films, and this one has officially replaced “All Star Superman” as the worst one yet.  So here I sit, disappointed in something I had very high hopes for.  I still recommend checking out part one, but with my rating of 3 out of 10 stars, I can’t say many great things about part 2.  Please chime in with your thoughts if you check this one out.