Twitter Plot Summary: The Dark Knight continues his quest to restore peace to Gotham, whilst butting heads with The Joker and Superman.
Five Point Summary:
1. Bats getting back into the groove.
2. Some Russian aggression.
3. Bats VS The Joker, for the final time.
4. Bats VS Supes, for the final time.
5. A new beginning?
Picking up from the closing moments of Part 1, The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 takes events to another level and presents the closing half of a story that is perhaps as dark as Batman gets. The return of Batman has caused uproar both in Gotham and on a national level, resulting in The Joker awakening from a lengthy catatonic state and somehow managing to convoke his doctor to allow him onto a TV talk show, through which he will have opportunity to explain his side of events. The gang problem may have mostly been resolved thanks to Batman’s intervention in Part 1, but now there are larger concerns in the form of the Russians, their invasion plans for the island of Corto Maltese, and their impressive nuclear arsenal.
Once again the animation is crisp and clean, and acts as a near perfect adaptation of the graphic novel source material. There are some elements of that graphic novel that are not explained as clearly in the film, in particular relating to Gotham’s condition after it all hits the fan, but thematically at least the film remains as strong as the source. Superman is a government whipping boy, the only super-powered being permitted to intervene in events and subsequently used as a targeted weapon acting on behalf of the United States government. The resulting nuclear blast(s) certainly ensure that this is not a film for a younger market. Not only does the blood flow and female Russian bad guys run around with some conveniently placed tape covering up their chest, but Superman has a potentially disturbing scene following an encounter with a nuclear blast.
There are a couple of other minor issues that prevent the film from reaching the same heights as the graphic novel. For starters Michael Emerson’s Joker lacks something, he’s a little too calm to be the Joker, catatonic state or not. True, he does come across as unnervingly sinister, but Emerson needed to be a little more OTT to really inhabit the character. Still, the character’s actions are absolutely clear and are entirely appropriate given his history with Batman. Their final encounter in a fair, of all places, is a fitting end to that particular story. Given her previous life, it’s also a surprise to see Selina Kyle having put on weight and appearing like a cat that’s had too much cream in the later years of its life.
On the other hand, Dark Knight Rises Part 2 does end strongly, if leaning heavily towards the darker end of the spectrum, and the showdown between Superman and Batman is a worthy end. It also marks the start of a possibly grim future, albeit one marked with the glimmer of hope. It would be somewhat churlish to criticise the film too much against the graphic novel as the whole purpose of this is to expand the source material out to a wider audience. Whilst it doesn’t have time to cover every aspect of that novel, despite being split into two halves, it performs admirably enough to stand alone. This second part works better in isolation than Part 1, however it all flows nicely when combining the two.