Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
A good friend of mine who also writes for this site, whose name I won't call out since I'm still paying dearly for doing that in another review a while ago, was watching the movie Argo which pre-ran the trailer for this movie 'Batman: The Dark Knight Rises - Part II'.  She let me know she saw that trailer and couldn't believe how fired up she was to watch… a 'cartoon'.  Oh gosh.  Don't worry, we took care of it.  Scooby Doo is a cartoon.  Animanics is a cartoon.  The Road Runner and Bugs Bunny, while plenty subversive, are cartoons but this…this is Animated Cinema.  At its very best. 

The last time we saw Batman (Voiced by Peter Weller) in part one, which I think was yesterday for us, he had come off a ten year retirement, put down Two-Face, throttled the beyond brutal Mutant leader, sent Commissioner Gordon off to retirement and found himself a new Robin (Ariel Winter).  It all seemed to end well enough for Batman and them, or at least as well as anything can end for that miserable ass son of a bitch, but that movie ended with a smiling psycho at Arkham Asylum remembering who was, so we know that trouble and chaos are just moments away.

Meanwhile, Batman is steadily cleaning up Gotham and making enemies in high places.  White House high.  Somebody somewhere… I don't know, Frank Miller maybe… had a problem with 1980's governmental policy, when this story was originally penned.  At this time, superheroes have been shutdown, involuntarily so it would seem, and Batman putting on the cape again is causing concern for a certain crusty President who at one time used to be a Hollywood actor.  Thus this President is telling his boy Superman (Mark Valley) that he might be making trip to Gotham to shut that loon down if he keeps this nonsense up.  Clark does talk to Bruce, a talk that went over about as well as a fart in church, but Bruce has been warned.  Meanwhile, Superman has a mission to go shove some U.S. foreign policy down some Bolshevik throats.  The Cold War just got hot.
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Bruce has bigger issues though.  The Joker (Michael Emerson) has conned his way out of Arkham for a moment, and that moment was all he needed.  It appears the only thing that stay at the asylum did for The Joker was make him crazier and more violent.  Seriously, this cat is insane and he needs to be dealt with in the harshest way possible.
And this President we've mentioned has had just about enough of Batman causing a ruckus.  Not because he's doing anything particularly wrong, but because the United States is on the brink of chaos and the only city under any kind of law is Gotham, thanks to Batman, and that's making him look bad.  This president, at least in this fictional reality, is kind of a dick.  It's time for Batman and Superman to have a meeting of the minds.  Surely there's no way a regular dude with a utility belt could do anything except kneel down to the Son of Krypton in a man to man battle, but Superman seemed to forget that Bruce is almost as crazy as the Joker.  And way smarter.  An epic battle shall ensue.

So for my money, for pure entertainment value and animated mayhem and violence, you can't get much better than this installment of the 'Batman: The Dark Knight Rises - Part II'.  We do have to recognize, however, that Part II was far more off the wall and insane that Part I.  With both episodes directed by Jay Oliva, Part I seemed to at least try to adhere to some semblance of reality, at least as real as a lunatic in a batsuit with a thirteen year old sidekick, both kicking much ass, can be.  This time however, all bets were off.  One might even call it over the top, with the sky high murder rate, the blood, the gore, the swastika covered titties, or the very concept of letting the craziest person in the history everything out of an insane asylum without nary an armed guard nearby.  Then we have to deal with the concept of Batman and Superman getting into a fistfight and conceive that this fight could be remotely fair, but that's not so difficult to deal with since most of us following the Dark Knight's exploits knows he tends to think three to four steps ahead. 

Over the top or not, 'Batman: The Dark Knight Rises - Part II' is dark, violent, brutal, unapologetically hardcore and completely excellent.  The narrative is rich, textured and layered.  It deals with issues of politics, personal philosophy, loyalty, duty, and revenge and handles these issues deftly and in a way that's true to itself.  You may or not agree with these politics, but I did love the way they were presented.

Technically, the voice acting, as we've come to expect, is fantastic across the board.  Peter Weller bringing a gruff, weary, dogged determination to the voice of Batman and Michael Emerson takes his own special turn with the voice of The Joker who is cooly 'matter of factly' insane rather than simply hysterically cackling insane.   The animation is crisp and clean, and the action and story elements are well balanced. 

When DC started with their animated features back with 'Superman Doomsday' a few years ago, we always tempered any criticism with the comment that 'At the end of the day, these are cartoons still largely for kids'.  That is not the case anymore.  This is mature, adult cinema that just happens to be animated, and we applaud Warner / DC for their accomplishment. 
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