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whatever flaws this movie has, they were simply unavoidable ones. necessary ones even. in the meticulously faithful adaptation from page to screen, somethings aren't going to translate properly. they did the best they could though, and it seriously pays off. this is the ultimate animated batman movie, and it easily rivals any of the live action films. it's second only to a tie between batman (1989) and batman begins.
as for its animated ilk? the dark knight returns isn't simply better than the rest, it towers over them- casting a quite familiar shadow. it works so damn well, because the source material is so damn good. this might very well be the quintessential batman story, period. as the second half builds to an iconic confrontation between the dark knight and the man of steel, it also ends up proving to be a far more satisfying experience than batman v superman.
i mean, at 2 hours and 30 minutes, this movie feels like a true batman epic- small screen or not. it follows bruce's return to the cowl after a 10 year hiatus from the rooftops of gotham. it explores why batman works, and why he's so necessary as well. while all his other exploits on the screen- big or small, have simply had him facing off against a particular foe or two, this one has batman facing so much more.
it's not really a matter of quantity either. the villains and the crime in the story feel like a massive wave that's washing through gotham, not dozens of isolated threats, but one singular threat that batman must contend with. as bruce re-adapts to being batman, we see that he's not the only one returning, nor is he the only one who has aged and changed over the years. everyone is a little meaner, a little farther gone. the world isn't as malleable or accepting as it once was.
at the end of the day, the dark knight returns isn't really about batman versus anyone. it simply is what it says. it's about his return, plain and simple. he's back. it tells a complete story without having to resort to formulaic comic book plotting or a grandiose good vs. evil showdown. i've always found this to be a wholly satisfying story, and i love the characters. so many iconic moments, and so many scenes that make me actually want to cheer.
as violent, dark, grim and gritty as this one is, in its finest moments, it's also a surprisingly inspirational story as well. i would tell hollywood to take notes, but... they already did that.
to mixed results.
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