26 October 2013

Movie Review: "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: Part One"

Rated: PG-13 for some intense sequences of violence and action
Starring: Peter Weller, Ariel Winter, and David Selby
Released: September 25, 2012 (DVD and Blu-Ray)
Synopsis: Several years after Batman's retirement, Bruce Wayne (voiced by Peter Weller) is still alive and well.  A massive gang known as the Mutants is wreaking havoc all over Gotham, and the police, including commissioner James Gordon, are at their wits' end trying to protect innocent citizens.  Despite his advanced age, Bruce Wayne puts on the Batsuit again to uphold justice...but the Mutants aren't going down without a fight.  With Two-Face escaped and still against him, and some citizens of Gotham totally opposing him, this mission may prove to get the best of the Dark Knight.
Based on the best-selling graphic novel by Frank Miller and Klaus Jackson.

Artistic Merit

Plot: 5/5
Though this movie may only be seventy-six minutes in length, it packs a powerful, gripping narrative.  It's arguably as fast-paced as many of the action/adventure flicks that get released in theaters.

Production Values: 4/5
The animation is stellar; the blending of computer-generated images with hand-drawn ones works amazingly well.  However, the voice work left a little to be desired.  Though most of the cast did well, I felt that Batman could have been better voiced.  According to the end credits, the voice director for this film was the same one who did the Batman and Superman animated series, including Batman Beyond; I'm afraid she might have lost her touch.

Moral Content

Positive Elements: 3.5/5
The main message here? Crime doesn't pay.  Also, Batman is shown overcoming personal tragedies and putting his life on the line for the greater good.  Others risk their lives as well to help out the Caped Crusader.

Sex: 5/5

Nudity: 4/5
Bruce Wayne is seen shirtless a few times; in one scene, it is implied that he is naked, though his private area is well obscured.  The main villain also spends most of his time bare-chested, and even has weird thorn-like things protruding from his chest.  Random women are seen in low-cut or bare-midriff outfits a time or two, and a female hero wears short shorts.

Violence: 1.5/5
Of course, when you have superheroes, you have to have violence, right? I had expected this to fall into "TV-Y7-FV" territory; instead, it ended up being far too bloody and intense for children.  Shots are fired left and right, and blood is seen in almost every action scene, as well as in a flashback.  At least five people are killed; one person is seen lying in his own blood during a news report.  There are also a few explosions.

Language: 2.25/5
The language also keeps this movie from being kid-friendly.  The d-word is used at least seven times--including once on a sign--and the h-word three or more time.  Other profanities, such as the a-word and the b-word, are used at least once.  God's name is also misused three or four times.

Drugs: 3.75/5
Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon are seen drinking.  The Commissioner also uses nicotine gum because his wife made him give up cigars.

Frightening/Intense Scenes: 0.5/5
There's little within the movie that isn't intense or frightening.  Along with the mostly bloody violence, some scenes--such as Batman dangling a perp from a skyscraper--would likely scare many kids and even some adults.

Final Score: 3.5/5
Amazing, yet violent.  Usually, those words wouldn't go together--at least, not for me--but this movie's story and action sequences are so compelling, it was like reading a book you couldn't put down.  Even the imperfect voice work didn't keep me from watching this in one night, which is something I rarely do with movies of any length.  Still, this film is not for children; it might even be a bit much for some teens and adults.  If you're sensitive about language, I would suggest using ClearPlay or a similar filter, as this movie adds in a bit more profanity than I would have even expected.  For fans of the Caped Crusader or superheroes in general who aren't bothered by the above concerns, though...you're in for a treat.

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