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They’re not standing around the watercooler, but Cheryl Sadler, Mark Meszoros, Mark Podolski and Nicole Franz are talking about what they’ve been watching, listening to and playing during their free time.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dark Knight Returns Part 2 big letdown

The beauty of Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" was exactly what the title states.

Watching Batman "return" from 10 years of inactivity in Miller's futuristic take on one of the most iconic superheroes of all-time was unlike anything fans had seen.

That interpretation of Bruce Wayne's alter ego was penned in the mid 1980s. DC Comics gave it a straight-to-home video release last fall with Part 1 of the story. What an achievement in animation. It was dark, brooding, exactly like the graphic novel, which changed Batman forever.

The first two chapters of the four-part story beautifully tell a tale that pulls you in. You feel the conflict within Wayne as he struggles to cope with Gotham City crumbling. You feel the terror as Harvey Dent, Wayne's good friend before losing it as the villain Two-Face, threatens the city with a bomb. And you certainly feel the terror as Gotham is taken over by a gang of ruthless mutants. Of course, Batman saves the day in each instance.

Part 2, released this week, continues the story, months after Part 1 concluded. With the Joker and Superman added to the cast, it has to be a home run, right? Not even close.

The second installment loses the juice of Part 1, mostly because the plotlines seem overly rushed. The Joker certainly has his moments of mayhem, but the Superman arc (if you didn't grow up in the 80s, the references to the Cold War, and former president Ronald Reagan will go over your head) just doesn't click like it did on the written page.

Joker's story is buoyed by Batman's return, and he's as disturbing as ever (this film is NOT for children), but the voice-over provided by Lost's Michael Emerson misses the mark. In the final chapter, Superman has orders from the White House to stop (and possibly eliminate?) Batman, whose vigilante ways infuriates the new commissioner who took over for a retired Gordon.. It makes for another epic battle and interesting twist for those who've never read the book.

Unfortunately, it's not enough to save this animated film, which will forever be greatly outshined by its predecessor.

BLU RAY EXTRAS:  Director Jay Oliva provides commentary about creating the film from storyboards, plus there's short docs on the Joker, and the Batman-Superman battle. All are definitely worth a watch.

- Mark Podolski | @MPodo


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