A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 is the conclusion to the animated movie based on the legendary 1986 comic book. Like the previous installment, it's extremely violent, with almost constant fighting, blood, guns, shooting, stabbing, and death. Sex is also an issue, as an escort service becomes a minor part of the plot. Some strong language surfaces, such as "son of a bitch," "ass," and "hell." And some minor characters are shown drinking to drown out their pain and misery. This is a very dark, ambiguous story, steeped in 1980s-era values about vigilantism, but it's also ambitious. Literate, intelligent teens may be interested in this fascinating addendum to the Batman mythology.
What's the story?
Batman (voiced by Peter Weller) and his new, female Robin (voiced by Ariel Winter) continue fighting the new wave of crime in Gotham City, perpetuated by vigilante gangs. To make matters worse, a new police commissioner has replaced James Gordon and has issued an arrest warrant for Batman. Meanwhile, the Joker has escaped from prison by agreeing to appear on a talk show (where he kills everyone in the audience). In addition, the United States has become involved in a nuclear stalemate, threatening everyone in the country, and the president has ordered Superman to stop Batman's antics. How will Batman survive his most complex and deadliest adventure?
Is it any good?
This faithful, satisfying adaptation of Frank Miller's legendary, groundbreaking 1986 comic book is perhaps the most ambitious animated feature yet to come from Warner Bros. It has done remarkable justice to what some consider to be the ultimate Batman story: the conclusion of the entire mythology. Steeped in 1980's values, including the threat of nuclear war, the rise of gang violence, and a sinister Reagan-like president, it comes across as perhaps even more frightening and alien than it might have in its own time.
Actor Peter Weller, also known as Robocop, adds just the right combo of chilliness and humanity to Batman, as he makes choices no longer governed by regular laws or ideas of justice. He's now looking to settle a score, destroying an infrastructure so that he can rebuild from its ashes. Director Jay Oliva sticks close to Miller's dark, brutal style and makes the classic comic come to life. Serious comic book fans will be pleased.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in this version of Batman? Does it enhance or detract from the central story?
How has the Batman character evolved over the years? What has remained unchanged about his basic story? Out of all the different Batmans played or voiced by different actors, which one is your favorite?
Is Batman a good role model here? Is he supporting the idea of vigilante justice? What are the differences between Batman's justice and that of the police and the U.S. government?
How does ex-Commissioner James Gordon help his community in this story? How does his vision of good differ from that of Batman?
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