The first two episodes of Gotham have given me a feel for the show as it is and where it can go from here. So far… I’m on the fence.
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For the most part, I’m a big fan of the DC Comics Animated Universe. It’s almost all gold, but this time, they kinda blew it. I wouldn’t say Son of Batman is boring, but since none of the characters are especially interesting, it just kinda plods along to its inevitable conclusion.
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Guess who’s back? Back again? It’s Batman in The Dark Knight Returns Part 2! And this one… whew, this one is crazy.
I think I liked Part 1 better than Part 2 – maybe because for what Part 2 lacks in story in comparison to Part 1, it it makes up for in sheer lunacy. Seriously, this movie is nuts. It features: Superman fighting the USSR’s military and just… killing people, the joker on an insane murderous rampage, nuclear explosions and Batman fighting the cops – and that’s none of that is even in the climax of the movie. It’s nuts.
Like I mentioned yesterday, Peter Weller is the voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman in these flicks rather than Kevin Conroy, and I know I already mentioned the speech he makes near the end of this flick, but wow, is it awful – it bares repeating. Kevin Conroy is great as the voice of Batman, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. (Check out the trailer below: “Tonight, we are the law. I am the law!” Yuck.) Oh, and while I’m’ taking shots at people, Michael Emerson as The Joker just wasn’t working. Again, just call Mark Hamill – and again, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
This movie is nuts, but if you watched Part 1, you’ll need to watch Part 2 to see how the story ends… and it’s not the most satisfying of endings, but it’s worth checking out for any Batman fan. I give Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Part 1 a 7 out of 8.
Of the two parts, I’d say that part 1 of The Dark Knight Returns is the better, more entertaining half of the story. It’s fun to get acquainted with this new Gotham City and a new Bruce Wayne – they’re both older and they’ve both changed. I’d of never thought I’d see Bruce Wayne driving a race care and thinking something tot he tune of, “This would be a good death… [to die in a race car accident] But not good enough.” It calls into question whether or not being Batman was about thrill seeking, revenge, or justice, or if somewhere along the road, the line got blurred, but it doesn’t matter anymore, because Bruce hasn’t been Batman for 10 years, and he’s kinda old.
This movie features Peter Weller as the voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman rather than Kevin Conroy, who is almost always the voice of Batman in any animated presentation since the late 80s, and Weller is OK, but he just doesn’t hit the mark – it’s not so noticeable in Part 1, but he makes a speech in Part 2 that I didn’t believe for a second.
It’s an interesting story with interesting characters, but unless you’re really into Batman, you might want to skip this one – especially if you saw The Dark Knight Rises and you didn’t think it was anything great. On the other hand, if you couldn’t get enough of DKR, then this is the movie series for you. I give Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Part 1 a 7.5 out of 8.
See, this is why I don’t read Batman comics anymore. I can deal with the silly costumes, ridiculous story lines and endless fake-deaths, but one thing I can not, will not tolerate is long lost brothers who are evil. If Bruce Wayne has to have a long lost brother, why can’t the guy just be an accountant from Metropolis who wants his half of the family fortune? I thought it was enough that he lived with a bunch of young boys he’d been collecting (Dick, Tim and Damian), but now they have to throw a brother into the mix… quite the sausage fest. Couldn’t they give Bruce Wayne a wife? Guess not.
Anyone, this one’s for you, Thomas Wayne, Jr.! (Imagine me giving him the finger.)
“I’m chatty – it’s part of my charm.”
Ah, Dick Grayson, the original Robin – even all grown up as Nightwing and voiced by Neil Patrick Harris in Batman: Under the Red Hood – what a great character. Watching Nightwing and Batman hopping around all over the place brought back found memories of Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures even more so. But that’s not where this movie opens.
Fans of the aforementioned series (not to mention the Batman comics) should be fairly familiar with all the characters accept the first hero we meet: Jason Todd, the second Robin, who makes no appearance in either series, but is instead replaced by the third Robin, Tim Drake. This might tempt me to go into a, “What’s with Batman taking scantly clad kids into battle with him all the time?” essay, but maybe some other time. As the film opens, we are ‘treated’ to Todd’s death at the hands of the Joker. If you missed this way back in the 1980s, Todd’s character was so unpopular that DC comics held a poll that would let the fans decide if Jason lived or died, and the fans chose to kill him. The vote was close, but that’s got to be a blow to somebody’s ego, huh?
The movie skips ahead a few years and we find that the new criminal mastermind, The Red Hood, an alias once used by the Joker, has begun to consolidate his nefarious power through brutality and murder and is now setting his sites on the Black Mask, his competitor for control of Gotham’s underworld. Now the movie makes no attempt to hide that The Red Hood and Jason Todd are the same person, as comic book fans already know this, and it doesn’t take the other characters very long to figure it out, either, as Todd wants Bruce Wayne to know it’s him. The movie is really about two questions that Todd’s character wants the answers to:
- Is the brutal crime fighter/criminal he’s become his true nature, or did his lazarous pit resurrection drive him over the edge?
- Why didn’t Batman avenge his death and kill the Joker?
This is where the movie is going, and the questions it’s trying to answer, but only get an answer to one of them. You want there to be redemption for Todd, but there isn’t any – he’s gone way past the point of no return, and the movie ends with a flashback to Todd’s first day as Robin, which he proclaims as the greatest day of his life.
The story is great, the movie is well paced, but its essentially a fan only experience. Ra’s al Ghul is much different in the comic books than the character we met in Batman Begins, and the lazarous pit is probably hard to accept if you’re not familiar with the history of Ghul’s character. The action sequences, especially the chance scenes, were a ton of fun. I enjoyed the flashbacks and their attention to detail: notice how the Batmobile is different in the past.
I liked this movie, I really did – but saying it’s a fun ride is probably not the right phrasing. It’s sad at it’s core, and even depressing. There’s no happy ending, justice doesn’t prevail and Todd doesn’t return to the Batman family at then end of the movie. But it’s a good flick, and a must watch for Batman fans. I plan on watching it again soon – that should tell you something.