Hold onto your seat viewers because this is not your father’s Batman. DC Universe Animated Original Movies unleashed a gritty direct to video masterpiece that will amaze you and leave you pining for more. The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 was adapted from the graphic novel by Frank Miller. DC Universe decided to take a risk and release what fans had been asking for, the story of an aging Bruce Wayne dealing with a brand new group of criminals, a changed Gotham City, coping with his demons from the past and limitations from his age. The dark mood of this animated movie is more pulp-like than any previous attempt at bringing the iconic hero alive. This Batman holds no punches back as he comes to the aid of his city.
The story follows a 55 year old Bruce Wayne (voice of Peter Weller) who retired ten years ago following the death of his sidekick, Robin (Jason Todd, the second Robin). A new reign of criminals is stirring in Gotham City and the need comes once again for Wayne to don the cowl and become Gotham’s crime fighter, but is the older Bruce Wayne up for the challenge? Familiar figures from the Batman series are showcased here, such as Commissioner Jim Gordon (voice of David Selby), Alfred the butler (voice of radio commentator Michael Jackson) and the notorious criminal, Two-Face (voice of Wade Williams). New twists are added in the Dark Knight Returns with the introduction of an evil Mutant Leader (voice of Gary Anthony Williams) and a brand new Robin-a female Robin (voice of Ariel Winter) who brings the sidekick a revamp-and of course, what Batman story would be complete without the infamous Joker.
Fans of the Caped Crusader should love this adaptation of the Miller story as the movie direction stayed quite true to the feel of the original artwork. The stylized versions of characters and backgrounds work perfect with this storyline and newcomers to the Miller adaptation of the Dark Knight should get a kick out of the new Robin design overhaul. Updating visual props, such as the batmobile and the batcave worked seamless in the timeless Gotham setting. This movie is a bit adult with some language and very heavy on the violence (by comparison to other Batman animated movies children are used to seeing) so keep this in mind when considering young viewers in your home. The second part is scheduled for release in 2013 which should give you some time to watch the first part over and over, as I will be doing. Bravo DC Universe for another great movie.