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117 of 120 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Adaptation and "Deluxe Edition"
Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is considered to be one of the seminal works in the comics canon, and for good reason: it's an adult, layered work with elements of social and political satire and rich, often-disturbing characterizations of Bruce Wayne/Batman and the other denizens of Gotham. The story's complexity made it clear to Bruce Timm and the DC...
Published 15 months ago by A. Thomas

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor DVD Authoring keeps the Deluxe edition from being the Ultimate Edition
My review is about the DVD Deluxe Edition Set, and I'm going to focus on the features of that as a product as opposed to the quality of the movie, which you can find plenty of opinions about.

DVD collectors offer crave the ultimate edition. When they released this movie individually as two parts many of us knew that the combined parts would be released together...
Published 12 months ago by beanlynch


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117 of 120 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Adaptation and "Deluxe Edition", September 16, 2013
Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is considered to be one of the seminal works in the comics canon, and for good reason: it's an adult, layered work with elements of social and political satire and rich, often-disturbing characterizations of Bruce Wayne/Batman and the other denizens of Gotham. The story's complexity made it clear to Bruce Timm and the DC Animated Universe team that the usual 80-minute long adaptation could not hope to capture the essence of Miller's story, and so the decision was made to split the book into two films.

This Deluxe Edition joins the two halves together for the first time via a "seamless" edit into a single film. Despite not having seen the separate parts, nonetheless there is a moment roughly at the midpoint of the feature that smashes to black before continuing, so it is my belief that they simply removed the credits from Part 1, spliced on Part 2, and tagged on a new credit sequence with the cast and crew from the full feature. Structurally, the film still narratively plays as two conjoined halves, but the consistency of the overall tone and thematic motives throughout, as well as of the cast and crew, keep the full 148-minute presentation relatively unified. It's nice to have the full story all in one place.

In terms of quality, "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" is right at the top of the DCAU canon. The source material is of course top notch, and director Jay Oliva and screenwriter Bob Goodman have hewn closely to Miller's opus. Minor incidents have been omitted and certain aspects of the narrative have been shuffled (again, necessary to the production of the film in two parts), but the core of Miller's material is in there. The largest change is the removal of much of Batman's inner monologue. But for a single voice-over in the "rebirth" sequence, this aspect has been excised from the film. This was originally a major concern for me because so much of the comic's best writing is located within these internal monologues, but enough of the best material has been incorporated into dialogue or otherwise dramatized to satisfy, and the film is much better off than if they had simply slathered voice-over narration all over the place. Like a cherry on top of a rich sundae, a definite sense of 1980s style is infused throughout the film through the production design, slang, and music, much like in Zach Snyder's underrated live-action adaptation of Watchmen.

The voice cast is solid. Peter Weller's portrayal of Batman seemed flat in the trailers I had viewed prior to the release of the film, but in context he's just fine. A few moments here and there weren't quite convincing, and I -- as would many of my generation, I suspect -- would have preferred Kevin Conroy in the role, but overall I'm happy with the result. David Selby as Jim Gordon doesn't quite sound right at first, missing a more athletic timbre more common in other animated incarnations of the character, but his world-weariness grew on me. Michael Emerson's Joker is frighteningly cerebral and restrained. The rest of the voice cast, including Ariel Winter as Carrie Kelly, Mark Valley as Superman, Michael McKean as Dr. Bartholomew Wolper, and with bit parts filled by the likes of Paget Brewster, Grey DeLisle, Robin Atkin Downes, Maurice LeMarche, Tress MacNeille, Rob Paulsen, Wade Williams, and Conan O'Brien (!), is excellent.

As a digitally-animated film, the video transfer is quite good with vivid detail and excellent color; I noticed aliasing in several places, but this likely is a flaw of the source material. The audio is in DTS-HD 5.1, and while it's not reference quality it does a fine job of immersing you into the film with excellent bass in Christopher Drake's pulsing electronic score and in the action sequences.

The main benefits of this Deluxe Edition, other than gathering the full adaptation in one package, lie in the new bonus material. The first new extra is a feature-length commentary track with director Jay Oliva, writer Bob Goodman, and voice director Andrea Romano. It's an engaging, informative track with very little self-congratulation, focusing instead on their reasoning behind various decisions in the adaptation and in the process. If you're a fan of commentaries, you will enjoy it.

The second, and arguably more important, new extra is "Masterpiece," a 78-minute documentary centered around Frank Miller and the creation of the graphic novel itself. Interviewees include Miller, Klaus Janson, Dennis O'Neil, Jenette Khan, Michael Uslan, and Grant Morrison, among others. It focuses on Miller's rise in comics and the decisions that went into the creation of "The Dark Knight Returns" and is very informative.

It should also be mentioned that all extras from the releases of Part 1 and Part 2 (production featurettes, bonus episodes from the animated series, and digital comics excerpts) are included, minus previews for Part 1 and Part 2, which makes sense now that the feature is present as a whole. Except for the commentary, all the extras are housed on a second Blu-ray disc that is unfortunately stacked underneath the feature disc to leave room for the DVD copy of the film on the package's second spindle, but as Blu-rays are very scratch-resistant this is really a nitpick.

Finally, a note to parents: this is not a film for children. In fact, I am utterly amazed that this was released with a PG-13 rating. There are sustained sequences of graphic, bloody violence and hundreds of people are murdered quite unambiguously on screen, in addition to mature themes of insanity, sexual innuendo, and impending nuclear war. I am not a prude nor do I believe that any of the violence of the film should be excised, but I would advise that the film be treated as though it has an R-rating.

All things considered, this is a fine package of an excellent animated adaptation of one of the most celebrated comics of all time and is more than worthy of my highest recommendation.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best DC animated movie by far!, February 15, 2014
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I highly recommend this film and want to point out some of the key positives without giving away the plot:
1. The animation quality is higher than previous DC animated movies. It is the best-looking DC animated movie since Mask of the Phantasm (it actually looks better). But besides that, the editing, use of shadows, and thoughtful camera angles give this movie the sense of being a "real" movie as opposed to merely being a long Saturday-morning cartoon. My 65 year old father said it best when he said "I forgot I was watching animation." That's a testament to the quality of the storytelling, voice-acting and the overall production value. Peter Weller (Robocop) deserves a lot of credit for playing an older Batman.
2. The running time for the Deluxe Edition is 2 hours. This means that the story is not rushed from one plot point to another. One of the big problems with other DC animated movies is that they are usually less than 75 minutes long, which makes them seem rushed and leaves me feeling cheated for paying full-price for half a movie. Dark Knight Returns takes its time and allows you to become invested in the story. A proper cinematic running time makes a huge difference and I sincerely wish Warner Brothers/DC would get the hint for future animated movies.
3. The soundtrack has an amazing 1980s action-movie vibe to go along with the 1980s setting as opposed to a canned, forgettable soundtrack like Under the Red Hood and Year One.
4. The story itself as shown in film might actually be better than Frank Miller's original as it is paced better.
If you are a Batman fan or an action movie fan, then this is a must-have item.
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179 of 221 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DK Return as Full Feature & 70 min Miller Doc? No Double Dip!, July 15, 2013
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Movie Gal With a Brain (A galaxy far, far away) - See all my reviews
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For fans thinking they are being 'double dipped' by this DC Universe Animated Original Movie 'Deluxe Edition' release of 'BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS,' think again. You only need look at what you are getting for your money to realize Warner Bros. animation is offering up a totally new 'viewing experience' for this groundbreaking animated achievement, along with phenomenal new extras well worth the investment. The full-length, uninterrupted version of the film clocks in at 2 hours and 29 minutes. That makes this uninterrupted viewing experience the closest fans will get to a Christopher Nolan 'Batman' film, perhaps, for the last time ever.

The fact that the entire version features a crew commentary track exclusive to this 'full-cut' means that fans get a creative perspective on the film as a whole. Had commentary tracks been recorded and released on each of the separate 'Part 1' and 'Part 2' releases, they would have inhibited the creators from discussing their overall approach to the creation, acting, directing, writing, and production work that went into the entire epic film, as each commentary would have focused exclusively on either 'Part 1' or 'Part 2.' Fans hear what it was like to tackle a a 2 and 1/2 hour animated film. The creative efforts that went into this project were phenomenal, expensive, and unprecedented for the DCUAOM team. This is a film that Warner Bros. Animation gave a high budget to and lost a significant amount of money on. The total gross for both 'Parts 1' and '2' was less than 5 million dollars. DCUAOMs used to gross 5 million PER TITLE, minimum.

The inclusion of a 70 minute Frank Miller documentary focused on the creation of the graphic novel itself is the type of bonus material the DCUAOMs have virtually never included. Miller is notoriously 'tight-lipped' about his creations, and particularly, this historic graphic novel. The fact the documentary includes extensive new interview footage with Miller makes it the definitive documentary of the book - one of the most important graphic novels ever written.

The carry-over of all bonus materials from the separately released 'Parts 1 & 2' is, of course, obligatory. Many fans, though, will enjoy the 4 exclusive collector cards included in the set which will feature never before seen artwork. Given the fact the graphic novel itself has seen various special anniversary, hard-cover and limited release editions, it seems perfect that the animated version is getting this treatment.

Kudos to Warner Bros. Home Video for taking a second chance on this title by giving it to fans in a format they really wanted it in, including a comprehensive NEW commentary track, and a 70 minute definitive documentary on Frank Miller and the Graphic Novel itself. Given the low sales of the original releases, this might turn out to be another 'break-even' release for the division. And, if that's the case, it's the fans who will end-up being the sole winners yet again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the live action features, November 14, 2013
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It's a shame that DC's animated movies are so much better than their live action stuff. This is arguably the best Batman movie DC has ever released. PERIOD. My dad is in his mid-60's and you can't get him to watch an animated feature. I watched it with him, and he stayed riveted to the screen the entire time. DC should have whoever is in charge of animated features take over the decision making process for live action features. Again "best batman movie, hands down."
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor DVD Authoring keeps the Deluxe edition from being the Ultimate Edition, December 5, 2013
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This review is from: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Deluxe Edition) (DVD)
My review is about the DVD Deluxe Edition Set, and I'm going to focus on the features of that as a product as opposed to the quality of the movie, which you can find plenty of opinions about.

DVD collectors offer crave the ultimate edition. When they released this movie individually as two parts many of us knew that the combined parts would be released together eventually as an "ultimate" edition and waited for this. Unfortunately, this could be better.

I am used to seeing chapter selection menus with every DVD. I don't use them often, but they are certainly useful when I do need to use them. Considering that this movie combines the two parts that were released separately, making it a two and a half hour film, it really needs chapter selections menus. The DVD menus are pretty barebones. This isn't a make or break issue as a whole, but it does leave something to be desired which a deluxe edition shouldn't do in such an obvious way.

There are two discs of special features, one of which is just 5 episodes of cartoons mostly from Batman the Animated Series. They don't really have much to do with the feature besides being Batman animated episodes, and they are tonally quite different. This is quality material but a lot of collectors will probably have this material already and because it is so tonally different from the main feature, if they don't have it it might be because they aren't interested in it. The other disc has some documentary featurettes are pretty good but pretty short. There is no commentary or feature about the transition from graphic novel to animated feature so while you could make some connections between the discs (really only with disc 1 and disc 3), there really isn't that natural connection that bridges them.

Somethings are still missing. There is room for improvement.
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30 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic Achievement, July 21, 2013
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Kudos to WB for releasing this film in a single package.

The story is legendary. The cast is incredible. The animation is excellent. This may be the best Batman film ever made, trumping even the works of Nolan. A large part is due to its loyalty to the source, Frank Miller's epic dystopian tale.

There are many layers inside the story. Social commentary. Political commentary. But at its core we find out what drives Batman and why he is so important. Not only that, but we get to see the two great superheroes go at it when Superman and Batman go toe-to-toe.

WB is packing a lot into this new release. The only shame I can see is that they're not giving the full film a theatrical release. It deserves one. The quality is there and as a singular film, it moves at a fast pace. I would love to see this one on the big screen in the Fall.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Batman story!, May 30, 2014
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No spoilers here.

This is the definitive Batman story in my humble opinion. The Dark Knight Returns animated movies were very well done, but I didn't like that they split them into two parts, so I held off on purchasing them. This release solved that issue and the seamless story is nice to have. I was very happy to add this deluxe edition to my Batman movie collection.

Overall the picture quality doesn't disappoint and the audio was great. This is a nice looking animated feature, as the pages from the graphic novel look amazing coming to life in all their HD glory. All the sound effects and voice acting are well done too.

If you're a fan of the graphic novel, I can't imagine you'd be disappointed. If you're a Batman fan, you need to check this out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it., January 27, 2014
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This is the best Batman movie you will ever watch. The real Dark Knight, not that Nolan crap that was out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT but only for ADULTS!, November 17, 2013
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This review is from: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Deluxe Edition) (DVD)
This movie is awesome and I don't use that word lightly. It stays fairly true to the Frank Miller material. NOT FOR KIDS, no nudity but tons of violence.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting, intense, inspiring!, November 8, 2013
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Dc comics animation films are just getting better and better. Definitely a must have for any Batman fan. The extra material and the beautiful cards give a huge extra value.
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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Deluxe Edition)
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