Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1" May Show Some Promise

While all of you fine folks wait for my review of ParaNorman, here's something that touches on another of my nerd facets: comics.  Plus, it does relate to animation, so away we go!

It's been a few weeks, but Warner Home Video released their first trailer for the animated film adaptation of Frank Miller's seminal "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns."  In case you haven't seen the trailer, here it is:

It does seem to have a lot going for it.  The story seems to be pretty much intact, but certainly some of the violence (particularly the Joker's stunt of poisoning an amusement park full of kids) will almost certainly be toned down to get the PG-13 rating.  They also have Peter Weller voicing old Bats, and what's a gritty, futuristic, urban crime drama without RoboCop himself?

The art seems to work a little too hard to look like every other DC animated movie of the last few years with only some passing references to Frank Miller's original styling.  I also have general reservations about adapting a work such as this in its entirety to a film.  

TDKR came out in the 80's when writers like Frank Miller and Alan Moore were reclaiming comics from the edge of the mediocre kids'-stuff abyss.  They were dark, mature, and intense, but they were also designed to be comic books.  It's the primary reason Alan Moore throws a fit every time one of his works is made into a movie.  It is virtually impossible to properly adapt those types of graphic techniques into a linear narrative for film.  The closest they came was Watchmen a few years ago, but they still failed to capture the book's true essence.  My guess is that the pages of vox populi reactions to Batman's return will be the most telling aspect missing from this version.

Warner Home Video has been doing a pretty good job with their DC animated DVD features lately, so consider me a hopeful skeptic for this one.  An episode of The New Batman Adventures called "Legends of the Dark Knight" featured a segment taken out of TDKR and did a pretty solid job at recreating a few key scenes from the graphic novel.  We'll see if this version can do it equal justice when it comes out September 25.

1 comment:

  1. I am super-stoked about this, although I know it's going to be a let down. DC's animated movies are head-and-shoulder above the Marvel movies (which have been abysmal).

    I think it's interesting they're splitting it up into more than one movie. That bodes well from them actually telling a decent story. I do think that because it's animated (and thus "for kiddies" right?) WB will neuter Miller's work.

    Still, as a comic fan I'm going to check this one out the day it's released.