Archive for Peter Weller

Revisited: RoboCop

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the near future, Detroit, Michigan, is a dystopia and on the verge of total collapse and anarchy due to financial ruin and a high crime rate, higher than any large American city. To avoid mass collapse, the city mayor has signed a deal with the mega-corporation Omni Consumer Products (OCP), allowing them to run and control the underfunded police force in exchange for giving OCP the freedom to demolish the poor run-down sections of Detroit and construct a high-end utopia called “Delta City,” to be managed by OCP as an independent city-state free of the United States. However, OCP must clean the city of crime in order for the plan to be put in effect.

This move angers the police officers as they are now forced to obey OCP instead of the city, and they threaten to strike, but OCP evaluates other options for law enforcement. OCP senior president Dick Jones (Ronny Cox) offers the prototype ED-209 enforcement droid, but when it accidentally kills a board member during a demonstration, the OCP chairman, nicknamed “The Old Man” (Dan O’Herlihy), decides to go with the experimental cyborg design titled “RoboCop” as suggested by the younger Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer). His decision disgusts Jones, who objects to the idea of a human having robotic parts.

Because a recently-deceased officer is needed for the RoboCop prototype, OCP reassigns police officers to more crime-ridden districts, expecting officers to be killed in the line of duty. One such officer is Alex J. Murphy (Peter Weller), who is teamed with Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen), a rookie police officer. On their first patrol, they chase down a gang led by the ruthless criminal Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith), tailing them to an abandoned steel mill. When Murphy and Lewis are separated, Boddicker’s gang corner him, then gun him down with shotguns.

Murphy is pronounced dead and is chosen by Morton for the RoboCop program. As RoboCop, he is given three primary directives: serve the public trust, protect the innocent, and uphold the law, as well as a fourth classified directive that Morton doesn’t know of. He single-handedly and efficiently cleans Detroit of crime, and Morton is given praise for his success. This draws Jones’ anger with Morton’s plan working perfectly while Jones’s ED-209 is ridiculed. Lewis eventually discovers that RoboCop is really Murphy. Murphy experiences past events from his life and, at one point, returns to his former home, finding out that his wife and son have long since moved away, thinking that Murphy has died.

Later on, as Morton shares cocaine with two prostitutes, Boddicker arrives, forces the prostitutes to leave, then shoots Morton’s legs, crippling him. He then shows him the message from Jones, explaining that he hired the killer to execute him for going over his head and not going through the proper channels of OCP. Boddicker then places a grenade on the table and abandons the crippled executive, leaving him to die after Jones tells him he is ‘cashing him out’.

Murphy tracks down Boddicker to a cocaine factory and threatens to kill him, but Boddicker admits his affiliation with Jones, and is able to verbally trigger RoboCop’s law-abiding directive. Murphy finds he cannot kill Boddicker and arrests him instead. He approaches Jones at OCP headquarters and attempts to make an arrest, but Jones reveals he planted the hidden fourth directive that prevents Murphy from taking any action against an OCP executive. Jones explains his larger goal of taking over OCP, and confesses to Morton’s murder. Although he orders his personal ED-209 to kill Murphy, Lewis is able to help Murphy escape and takes him to the same steel mill at which he was murdered to repair himself and recover. There, Lewis learns that much of his personality still exists intact.

Meanwhile, the police force, under further duress by OCP and fearing their replacement by the RoboCop program, finally goes on strike and crime runs rampant. Boddicker regroups his gang to take out Murphy using anti-tank rifles and a tracking device provided by Jones. They converge on the steel mill, but Murphy and Lewis are able to fend off the attack and kill the gang, although Lewis is wounded. Murphy assures her that medical help is on the way, and heads back to OCP, easily destroying the ED-209 guarding Jones using one of the anti-tank rifles.

He arrives at the board room where Jones is offering his ED-209 to replace the Detroit Police Department, which is still out on strike. Murphy replays Jones’s confession, which reveals his duplicity to the board, and explains that he is unable to act against an OCP officer. Jones threatens to kill The Old Man unless he’s given a helicopter. The Old Man immediately fires Jones, which gives RoboCop clearance to kill him by shooting him out the window. The Old Man thanks RoboCop and asks for his name, to which RoboCop replies, “Murphy.”

REVIEW:

The city of Detroit has fallen on some hard times of late, but if there is one thing they haven’t lost it is that they are the city in which RoboCop was based. Ironically, this film was set in the future and now “old Detroit” resembles actual Detroit. As a staple of 80s R-rated action, this is surely worth a viewing, right? Especially since I’m not in the most pleasant of moods right now since the President has taken over the airwaves and I’m missing Agent Carter and I already missed The Flash thanks to traffic. Let’s hope this cheers me up.

What is this about?

A monolithic corporation controlling a futuristic, crime-riddled Detroit transforms a dead cop into a cybernetic law-enforcement unit called Robocop.

What did I like?

Commercials. I hate commercials. When they come on, that’s when I flip through channels. When ads pop up on YouTube, I press the skip button, or open another window and do some random surfing. However, the commercials that are interspersed throughout this film caught my attention, mainly because they are just random cutaways and the products they are advertising are just plain ridiculous, such as a Battleship-type game called “Nuke ‘Em” that the whole family can enjoy. You know, I was watching these things and started pondering whether or not this is where Cowboy Bebop got the idea for their random broadcasts.

Satire. When you look at this film, the last thing you think of is that it is a comedy, unless you count the 80s cheesiness of it, of course, but truth be told, there is so much satirical material in here that a few tweaks to the script would have totally changed its genre. For instance, the big corporation running everything was supposed to be an allegory for how “big brother” was going to look out for us in the future. Debate whether that happened or not. Some theories have compared the death and “resurrection” of Officer Murphy to Jesus. Yes, you read that right! Apparently, this was the director’s intent, going even further by having the idea of him walking through water at one point in the film symbolize Jesus’ walk on water. Of course, there are the aforementioned commercials which take consumer culture at the time and turn it on its head with how ridiculous they are. Who would have thought this little action movie would have such a message hidden underneath, right?

Hemoglobin. Ah, good ol’ 80s R-rated action flicks! There truly is nothing like them. Why? Well, just look at the death scenes! They are bloody as hell. Peter Weller’s character gets his hand shot off, then has a firing squad of shotgun shells put in him, followed by a show from a pistol, and we see all this bloody goodness. In an earlier scene, the ED-209 shoots up a guy in the office and the blood gushes like no one’s business. This is not to forget the guy at the end who crashes into a vat of toxic waste, has his skin melting and then is smashed by his bosses car. Back then this kind of stuff was allowed, and it was awesome! Today, well the fact that horror movies are rated PG-13 and don’t have killing in them most of the time, even if they are a slasher flick, should tell you something.

What didn’t I like?

Partner. The main character of this film is Peter Weller’s Robocop and he is mostly a solo act, but for some reason I wanted more from his partner. Granted, this is a woman who watched her brand new partner get brutally gunned down, and there really wasn’t much of a connection developed between them beforehand. That being said, a partner is a partner, and in the world of 80s cinema, females either have extreme compassion or develop feelings for their male counterparts, sometimes both. In Allen’s case, she does the former, but there is no reason for her to be in the film past the shooting, other than to tell Weller that his wife and kid are gone.

Wife and son. Speaking of the wife and son, we never really see them, other than in flashbacks. When Weller, as Robocop, returns to his home, they are gone, it is up for sale, and everything looks like it survived a mini house fire. What is wrong with this, you ask? Well, the duration of the film where Weller is a cyborg, he is struggling to find his humanity. What is more human that the two most important things in a man’s life? Surely, they would have helped him with that. On another point, I can’t see the wife just letting her husband’s body be donated to an experiment like this and then just packing up and leaving town, even if it is Detroit and they just moved there.

Mr. Ed. There is no bigger proponent of stop-motion animation than I, and the fact that they used this technique on a mechanical creature, the ED-209, rather than dinosaurs and mythical creatures was something that I appreciated (the dinosaur in one of the commercials is stop-motion, now that I think about it). While I appreciated it, that doesn’t mean it worked. Maybe this is just something that hasn’t stood the test of time, but there is a look to the film that is sleek and sophisticated, dare I say modern or even futuristic (for the time that this was released), and then there is ED-209, who is supposed to be even more futuristic looking, but comes off as more of a cartoon. Making matters worse is that this is supposed to be a giant killing machine that is meant to uphold the law. How can you take something like this seriously when it can’t walk down stairs without falling and then squealing like a pig? For comic relief, that was fine, but it didn’t fit in with what this thing was supposed to do.

With all the police issue going around these days, RoboCop is just what we need. I highly doubt he would have choked a guy to death for just standing there, or killed a guy who hadn’t committed a crime, or any of the other things that have been reported (and not reported) involving police and their killing the public. This is a good 80s escape film. What I mean by that is you will be transported back to the 80s when you watch this, and that isn’t a bad thing. Unfortunately, there is a remake that was released which I’m sure just defecated all over the legacy of this film, but you can never go wrong with the original! So, do I recommend this picture? Yes, very highly!

4 out of 5 stars

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Star Trek Into Darkness

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 2259, the starship Enterprise is on a survey mission to the planet Nibiru, studying a primitive culture. Captain James T. Kirk and First Officer Spock attempt to save the planet’s inhabitants from a volcanic eruption. When Spock’s life is endangered, Kirk violates the Prime Directive in order to save him, exposing the Enterprise to the native inhabitants, a decision with which Spock disagrees.

Returning to Earth, Kirk loses command of the Enterprise and Admiral Christopher Pike is reinstated as its commanding officer. Pike manages to convince Admiral Marcus to allow Kirk to continue as his first officer on the Enterprise, rather than being sent back to the Academy. Meanwhile, a secret Section 31 installation in London is bombed by a renegade Starfleet officer, Commander John Harrison. During a meeting of Starfleet commanders to discuss the situation, Harrison attacks in a jumpship, killing Pike. Kirk disables the jumpship, but Harrison uses a prototype portable transwarp transporter device to escape to Kronos, the Klingon homeworld, knowing Starfleet would be unable to follow.

Admiral Marcus orders the Enterprise to kill Harrison, arming them with 72 prototype photon torpedoes, shielded and untraceable to sensors. Chief engineer Montgomery Scott resigns his duties in protest when Kirk denies Scott’s request to examine the weapons for safety reasons. Pavel Chekov is promoted in his stead and Dr. Carol Wallace, a weapons specialist, joins the crew. Spock, Dr. Leonard McCoy and Uhura convinces Kirk it would be better to capture Harrison and return him to Earth for trial, rather than killing him.

En route, the Enterprise suffers an unexpected coolant leak in the warp core, disabling the ship’s warp capabilities. Kirk leads a deniable operation to Kronos in a confiscated civilian vessel. Approaching Harrison’s location, they are ambushed by Klingon patrols. Harrison easily dispatches the Klingons, then unexpectedly surrenders after learning the exact number of torpedoes locked on his location. On the Enterprise, Wallace is revealed as Dr. Carol Marcus, the Admiral’s daughter, who along with Dr. McCoy, opens a torpedo at the behest of Harrison, revealing a man in cryogenic stasis. Harrison reveals his true identity as Khan, a genetically-engineered superhuman awoken by Marcus from a 300-year suspended animation. Khan reveals his crew was held hostage by Marcus to force him to develop weapons and warships for Starfleet in preparation for a war between the Federation and the Klingons. Khan attempted to smuggle his crew out in the torpedoes he had designed, but was discovered. Believing Marcus had killed his crew, he instigated his attacks to avenge his family. Khan reveals Marcus had sabotaged the Enterprise’s warp drive, intending for the Klingons to destroy the ship after firing the torpedoes at Kronos, giving him a casus belli for war. Acting on information from Khan, Kirk asks Scott to investigate a set of coordinates within the Solar System.

The Enterprise is intercepted by a larger Federation warship, the USS Vengeance under the command of Marcus. Marcus demands that Kirk deliver Khan, but Kirk refuses. The Enterprise, with a hastily repaired warp drive, flees to Earth in order to report Marcus, however the Vengeance intercepts and disables it. Kirk offers to exchange Khan and the cryogenic pods in exchange for sparing the lives of his crew. Marcus refuses, transporting Carol Marcus to the Vengeance and ordering the Enterprise’s destruction. The Vengeance suddenly loses power, having been sabotaged by Scott, who discovered and infiltrated the ship during his investigation. With the transporters down, Kirk and Khan, with the latter’s knowledge of the warship’s design, space-jump to the Vengeance. Meanwhile, Spock contacts his older self on New Vulcan, who informs him that Khan cannot be trusted. After capturing the bridge, Khan overpowers Kirk, Scott and Carol, killing Admiral Marcus and seizing control of the Vengeance.

Khan demands from Spock the return of his crew in exchange for the three Enterprise officers. Spock complies, but had previously removed Khan’s frozen crew and armed the warheads. Khan betrays their agreement, crippling the Enterprise, however the Vengeance is in turn disabled following the detonation of the torpedoes. With both starships powerless and caught in Earth’s gravity, they begin to fall toward the surface. Kirk sacrifices himself by entering the radioactive reactor chamber to realign the warp core, saving the ship. Kirk succumbs to radiation poisoning, throwing Spock into a grief-stricken rage.

In one last act of defiance, Khan crashes the Vengeance into San Francisco to destroy Starfleet headquarters. Fleeing the scene, Spock transports down in pursuit. While experimenting on a dead tribble, McCoy discovers that Khan’s blood has regenerative properties that may save Kirk. Spock manages to subdue and capture Khan, and Kirk is revived. One year later, Kirk addresses a gathering memorializing the events, where he recites the “where no man has gone before” monologue. Khan is resealed in his cryogenic pod and stored with his crew, while Carol Marcus joins the crew of a recommissioned Enterprise, as it departs on a five-year exploratory mission.

REVIEW:

Let me preface this review with a very important statement, I am not a trekkie. My sci-fi franchise allegiance lies with the holy trilogy, before George Lucas decided to make them nothing more than a cash cow. That said, I do have respect for the phenomena of Star Trek and was somewhat looking forward to Star Trek Into Darkness.

What is this about?

This sequel returns much of the cast from the Star Trek feature released in 2009, breathing new life into the seemingly ageless space franchise. Led by the intrepid Captain Kirk, the Enterprise crew still includes Scotty, Spock and Chekov as well.

What did I like?

Characterization. In the last Star Trek, I don’t recall the characters being as similar to the original as they are in this one. For instance, Scotty has an exaggerated, almost Scrooge McDuck-like Scottish accent, Bones was spitting out metaphors, until ordered to stop, etc. I know that this irked some people, but I loved it! If you’re going to reboot something, you need to have nods to the original, and this is a good way to give the fans a little nugget of nostalgia.

Sherlock. Benedict Cumberbatch is a fast rising star. If you haven’t had the chance to see him in Sherlock, then you are missing out on a great show. I’m no fan of him as Khan, but as a villain he has the cunning, cruel streak that is pure evil, not to mention his voice, which has been compared to the likes of Ian McKellan, Patrick Stewart, and Alan Rickman, makes for quite the imposing antagonist.

Pacing. If you are an avid reader of this blog, then you are more than aware that I am a sucker for films that keep things rolling along. When things slow down, my ADHD kicks in and I lose interest, unless it is an older film that Is made in a different time, so pacing isn’t the same. I appreciate this film being almost non-stop action, slowing down just long enough to let the audience catch their breath and then ratchets right back up.

What didn’t I like?

Plot. The big selling point of this rebooted Star Trek universe is that it is new adventures that may be similar to things that have happened before. Well, this was not a new adventure, no matter what they try to tell you. My dad was a trekkie and forced me to watch Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan when it was either released or on TV. It is more than obvious that this is a blatant ripoff of that film. Many of the memorable parts are recreated, just with different characters, for instance, it is Spock that yells “Khan” and Kirk that ends up in radiation. They came up with a new villain for the first film, and Khan was eventually going to have to make an appearance, but damn…they could have done better than this.

Lens flares. When this was released everyone was complaining about the lens flares. A couple of times, it worked, but after a while it just got to be old and annoying, in the same vein as bullet time has become. What was J.J. Abrams thinking by using this technique so frequently?

Underwear. There apparently is a bit of a controversy surrounding the scene with Alice Eve in her underwear. I was expecting it to be some huge scene where she’s half-naked, but instead it is a quick shot where she’s changing clothes. Yes, it was out of place, but I’m not complaining. A little skin never hurt anyone. I really don’t get the backlash. No one said anything about the alien girls in Kirk’s bed. Also, I would much rather see curvy Alice Eve than anorexic Zoe Saldana in her underwear.

There are only a few other films that were as hyped coming into this year as Star Trek Into Darkness. Did it live up to the hype? Well, judging by the box office, you would say no, but audiences seem to have responded very positively to it. That being said, audiences expected more than what we got. I enjoyed and recommend it, but I can’t help but feel it is a bit of a step back from its predecessor. Give it a shot, though.

4 out of 5 stars

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, part II

Posted in Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2013 by Mystery Man

Batman the Dark Knight Returns part II

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Feigning regret for his past, Joker convinces Wolper to take him on a talk show to tell his story; he makes plans for his escape with his old henchman who supplies him with mind-controlling lipstick. Meanwhile, Superman — who works as a government operative in exchange for being allowed to covertly help people — is asked by the President to end Batman’s vigilantism. Framing these events is a growing hostility between the USA and the Soviet Union over possession of the island of Corto Maltese.

As Batman’s continued presence humiliates the national authorities, Yindel becomes commissioner and orders Batman’s arrest. Superman warns Batman that the government will not tolerate him much longer. Joker makes his talk show appearance as Batman fights with the GCPD on the studio roof; while they fight, Joker kills Wolper and gasses everyone in the studio to death and escapes. He finds Selina Kyle and uses one of her escorts and his lipstick to take control of a congressman and make him call for a nuclear strike on the Soviets before falling to his death.

Batman’s investigation leads him to Kyle, who he finds bound and dressed like Wonder Woman. Kelley notices cotton candy on the floor and Batman deduces Joker is at the fairgrounds. There, Kelley accidentally kills Joker’s attacking henchman while Batman pursues the Joker, who indiscriminately guns down dozens of people. As Batman corners a wounded and partially blinded Joker, he admits to feeling responsible for every murder Joker has committed and intends to stop him permanently. The pair fight, which ends in Batman being stabbed repeatedly and him breaking Joker’s neck in front of witnesses. Content that he made Batman lose control and that he will be branded a murderer, the Joker finishes twisting his neck, killing himself. The GCPD arrive and the profusely bleeding Batman fights his way to Kelley and escapes as the Joker’s body burns in flames.

After Superman deflects a Soviet nuclear missile, he is hit with the blast and badly injured; the detonation creates an electromagnetic pulse that wipes out all electrical equipment in the United States and causes a nuclear winter. As the city descends into chaos, Batman, Kelley, and Gordon rally the Sons of Batman and the citizens of Gotham to restore order, and Yindel accepts that Batman has become too powerful to take down. While the rest of the powerless U.S. is overrun with crime, Gotham becomes the safest city in America, embarrassing the President’s administration and causing them to send Superman to finally stop Batman; Batman and Superman agree to meet in Crime Alley. Wearing a powerful exoframe and supported by Kelley and former Green Arrow Oliver Queen, Batman fights Superman, using various tactics to make the fight even. When Superman gains the advantage, Queen hits him with a Kryptonite arrow that severely weakens him. Batman beats Superman and claims that he intentionally made the Kryptonite weak, only wanting to be the man who beat Superman. Batman then dies of a heart attack while Wayne Manor self-destructs and Alfred dies of a stroke.

In the aftermath, the world learns that Wayne was Batman; all of his secrets are destroyed with the manor and his finances have disappeared. As Superman leaves Wayne’s funeral he gives Kelley a knowing wink after noticing a faint heartbeat. In underground caves, Wayne is revealed to have faked his death, and makes preparations to continue his mission more discretely, allied with Kelley, Queen, and his followers. Wayne states that this will be a good life, “good enough.”

REVIEW:

Continuing with this dark story of what Batman would be like as grumpy old man, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, pt. II brings us some familiar characters like the Joker, Selina Kyle (Catwoman), Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), and Superman. Are they as jaded as Bats? How have they held up over time? What about the characters we were introduced to in the first part? Do all of these questions get answered?

What is this about?

Along with new sidekick Robin, the Dark Knight has reclaimed Gotham City, but his return has awakened a terrible new – yet familiar – threat. The Joker has resurfaced with an evil plot that may pull Batman down to the darkest levels of insanity.

What did I like?

Classic Batman. In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, pt I, Batman didn’t feel like Batman, even in the climactic fight scenes, but in this one we get more of the brute detective that has made the character such a lasting one. He dons disguises, beats up the bad guys, mentors Robin, and even throws out a few one-liners. In other words, this Batman is a mixture of all the incarnations. Whether you’re a fan of the kitschy 60s Batman or the more realistic one of the Nolan films, you’re sure to enjoy this take on the character.

Superman. Not since the Superman cartoons of the 90s have I seen a Superman that brings to the screen everything we have come to love about him. While I would have loved for Tim Daly to have provided his voice, I had no issue with the guy who did, his name escapes me at the moment, though. The invincible boy scout, as he tends to be portrayed when paired with Batman, appears to be a government weapon, but this is a dark alternative timeline, so it makes sense. I’m just glad they didn’t try to turn him into something he isn’t (my big fear with the upcoming Man of Steel).

What didn’t I like?

Character design. I believe I said this in my review for part I, but I am not a fan with the way the characters are designed. It isn’t as bad this go around, but that may have something to do with getting used to the style. Still, the Joker should never, ever be the size of a linebacker. It appears as if he hasn’t really aged, so there is no so-called age-weight on him, plus he’s been in a catatonic state all this time, so why does he look like he’s been hitting the gym?

Selina. Bringing in Selina Kyle wasn’t a big deal, but Joker randomly puts her in a Wonder Woman costume. Two issues with this. She’s Catwoman! Why not put her back in one those outfits? Second, what does Wonder Woman have to do with anything? She wasn’t even mentioned! Unless there is some reference in the graphic novel that leads up to this, there was no reasoning to put her in this get up!

Pose. Speaking of strange costumes, when we first see Superman talking to Bruce Wayne they are out horse riding. First off, last time I saw Bruce riding horses he was doing his playboy thing. Doesn’t necessarily seem like the thing to do with a friend/associate. That isn’t my qualm, though. Throughout this whole scene Superman/Clark Kent is doing his best Fabio impersonation, complete with eagle on his arm. I don’t know if this was meant for some kind of comic effect or not, but it seems out-of-place and unnecessary.

Joker. The Joker didn’t feel like the Joker to me. I said this about Heath Ledger’s version of him in The Dark Knight, too. As much as I didn’t like that wild man version in The Batman, at least he had a Joker-type feel. This version was too serious for my taste. Much of that may have had something to do with the voice they gave him. The voice didn’t match the character.

Critics have been lauding Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, pt II as one of the best Batman films ever made. I don’t see it that way. Truth be told, there isn’t anything that terribly special about this. This time tomorrow, I’m sure I’ll have forgotten most of what I just saw. That may come off as a bit harsh, but that’s the way I saw it, sorry. Still, I suppose if you’re into Batman enough to check out this film, you’re sure to like it, at least, so check it out!

3 out of 5 stars

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, pt. I

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In a dystopian near-future version of Gotham City, 55-year-old Bruce Wayne has retired from being Batman following the death of his former sidekick, Jason Todd. Criminals now run amok and the city is constantly terrorized by a gang known as the Mutants. Bruce Wayne is now something of a recluse, despite his continuous philanthropic endeavors and friendship with Commissioner James Gordon (who now knows Bruce’s former identity as Batman).

The escalating brutality of the Mutants prompts Bruce to take up the mantle of Batman again, but the public opinion over Batman and his methods is sharply divided. While the public generally approve of Batman’s return, richer and more powerful people such as the unnamed Mayor of Gotham City and Dr. Bartholomew Wolper (head psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum) brand Batman as a fascist. Bruce’s old friend Harvey Dent (formerly Two-Face) undergoes plastic surgery and his face is repaired but at the high cost of eradicating Dent’s good side forever. Batman confronts Two-Face and stops him from holding the city ransom with a bomb.

Inspired by Batman’s actions, 13-year-old girl Carrie Kelley buys herself a Robin costume and searches for Batman to aid him. She finds him at the city dump where the Mutant gang is gathering. Onboard a tank-like Batmobile, Batman defeats most of the gang (shooting them with rubber bullets) before confronting the Mutant Leader in hand to hand combat where he is overpowered, but Kelley distracts the Leader long enough for Batman to subdue him. She then rescues the injured Batman and tends to his wounds as the vehicle drives toward the Batcave while the Mutant Leader is apprehended by the police. Once home, Batman takes Carrie on as the new Robin despite the objections of his butler Alfred Pennyworth. Batman instructs Carrie to disguise herself as a Mutant and spread the word of a meeting at Gotham Pipe starting with Mutant members Rob and Don. Batman also arranges the Mutant Leader’s escape from Gotham City Police Headquarters.

At Gotham City Police Headquarters, the Mayor attempts to negotiate with the Mutant Leader in his cell, but the Mutant Leader brutally mauls him to death. Gordon then “accidentally” allows the Leader out of his cell and he makes his way through the ventilation system leading him to Gotham Pipe where he finds his entire army waiting. Batman appears and engages the Mutant Leader in battle again. Only this time, Batman manages to outsmart the Leader’s moves and eventually subdues him, breaking several of his bones in front of his army. Accepting defeat, the Mutants disband where some of them form smaller gangs while the others were arrested by the police. One gang in particular operates under the name of “The Sons of Batman” where they work to purge Gotham of crime with questionable methods.

Batman’s return and victory over the Mutants becomes public news. Following the death of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor Stevenson has been sworn in as the new Mayor of Gotham City. Nearing retirement, Gordon meets with his successor Police Captain Ellen Yindel who also voices her doubts over Batman’s methods. Meanwhile in Arkham Asylum, a catatonic patient sees a report about Batman on the news and gives off a disturbing grin

REVIEW:

Batman has long been portrayed as a dark, brooding antihero, with the exception of the time of the Dick Grayson Robin. Have you ever wondered what it would be like in the future when Batman was a bitter, old man and crime in Gotham City and crime had taken a new form of criminal? Well, that is what Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, pt. I brings to the table.

What is this about?

In this animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel, 55-year-old Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement to protect Gotham and face both the Joker and a battalion of new foes. But does he still have what it takes to be the Caped Crusader?

What did I like?

Show some love. While watching this, I could really see and feel that the artists and animators really had some love for the source material. In many other comic adaptations, so much is changed that one can hardly tell that it is the same story anymore. The fact that they chose to keep it as close to the source material as possible earns major kudos from me and I hope that future comic book films, both animated and live-action, take note.

Ratchet. I won’t lie and say this film is nothing but action from start to finish. As a matter of fact, there are more scenes on non-action, but when we do get some kick butt scenes, it is totally worth it. This group of animators make it feel like a live action film, which is something that we really haven’t seen in this medium, to date.

Robin. Think about all the Robins we have seen in every incarnation of Batman. Obviously, there is the Dick Grayson Robin, occasionally we get the Tim Drake Robin, and I think there are a one or two versions that actually use Jason Todd, but when have we seen the female Robin? Sure she isn’t the most popular character, but in this day when heaven forbid there not be a strong female influence, it is good to see her.

What didn’t I like?

Animation. I cannot say that I was a fan of the way these characters were animated. It isn’t as if they were bad, but rather not my cup of tea. I long for the days of the immaculate animation of Batman: The Animated Series. Back then everything was hand drawn and not so reliant on computers. There are moments in this flick that are obviously done strictly by computers which, at least for me, is offensive. Can no one draw by hand anymore?!?

Voice acting. Let’s get this out of the way right now. No one is going to live up to Kevin Conroy’s Batman. There is a reason they brought him back from the latest video games. Peter Weller didn’t sell Batman for me. I actually felt he was more human back in his Robocop days, which is pretty sad when you think about it.

Spirit. While this flick does manage to stick as close to the source material as possible, I didn’t feel it conveyed the different tone of this alternate future. It definitely didn’t portray the mutants as a major threat, as they actually are, save for the leader, and even that was nothing more than a way to justify breaking this up into two films.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, pt. I is just another dark Batman flick that, personally, I am growing weary of. It has plenty of moments that are worth watching, but I’m not so sure it would be worth buying, let alone justifying that this had to be split up into two films. I guess that is a query that will be answered next year when part 2 is released. In the meantime, check this out if you’re a Batman fan.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars