Okay, let's start with "Year One".
The book (from here).
So, Post-Crisis, it was opened up for the flagship characters to have a fresh coat of paint, and this effort by Frank Miller has stuck around as the definitive origin of Batman for a helluva while.
Even in the face of "Batman Begins", it's still pretty sweet.
If you're not the reading type, it's even recently had the animated adaptation treatment.
Check that out.
Although...if you're not a big reader, why are you even fucking reading this?
The movie (from here).
A page-by-page adaptation of the graphic novel.
If you love the book, you'll love this, and vice versa.
Easily my fave of the Batmans of this batch.
Next year, at long, long, last "The Dark Knight Returns".
*Wipes a tear*
So, to summarize, the book inspired "Batman Begins", and stills holds its own up against it.
The movie nailed the book perfectly, so, if you like "Batman Begins", and what geek doesn't, you'll definitely enjoy this alterni-verse take of the story.
Now, "The Dark Knight Returns Part 1".
The book (from here).
This actually came out before "Year One", but...I wanted to be all chronological-like to try to make a little more sense out of all of this.
This is, like, the "Moby Dick", of comic books.
Story is simple, a 50 year old Batman comes out of retirement to tackle an even darker, and decayed Gotham.
Along the way, he fights Superman.
The Batman/Superman friendship was never the same after this in the mainline titles, even though it was one possible future, and a dystopia to boot.
Frank says in "Superheroes Unmasked", he proudly takes credit for breaking that friendship up.
Anyhoo, this one is next up for an animated adaptation.
I can hardly fucking wait.
Edit- It's here!
The movie (from here).
Like "Batman: Year One", they nailed it, it is the book come to life.
Surreal seeing it play out..and not have it be surreal...it's exactly how my brain animated it all these 25 years every time I read it.
Can't wait to have the marathon of Y1, and DKR1 and DKR2.
That's gonna be a sweet afternoon/night.
Only minor nitpick, there are little teensy nips and tweaks over bits of language, and story pacing, and getting information out of internal monologues, and out in the open in the action, but...so minor, as to barely be worth mentioning.
The story is all there, the scenes are all there.
Second disk features a touching documentary on the life of Bob Kane that to my mind, anyway, is easily the Batman companion to "Look, up in the sky!".
You MUST have this.
It's not even a question.
So, in summary, the book is the Moby Dick epic of not just Batman, but graphic novels period that inspired everything Batman from cartoons to movies for the past...almost 30 years, so, it's THE one the fans have been salivating for.
The first half of the movie nailed it pretty well with some mild divergences, and no real cuts that I could see.
And now, finally "The Dark Knight Returns Part 2".
The book (see DKR part 1).
Still great, but more divergences than in part 1, and some noticeable cuts.
The bit with Joker killing children with poison cotton candy was cut, but the general subplot wasn't, so, Joker is just giving out harmless cotton candy, and it makes no sense.
Part of me hopes those scenes don't exist, so they won't be milking us for an unrated cut.
Cuz, I've really had it up to here with this double-dipping shit.
Conversely, the David Endocrine murder scene is more dragged out and disturbing, possibly to make up for the cotton candy death.
Issues 3 and 4 of the comic that are the basis for part 2 are far more intense, they're where everything really ratchets up, so, this is the one we were really crossing our fingers on.
Did they drop the ball?
Mmm....some say "yes".
Given the massive frustrating compromises they had to make for "Batman Beyond: The Return Of The Joker", and the slow, careful, tortured buildup to more adult fare they've had to go through the last 20 years to even get up to this point, I really tried to rein in my expectations.
I was pleasantly surprised how much they were able to get in there.
The cotton candy was about the only blatant cut I really missed.
Gone was most of the full-on profanity.
The talking android dolls were foul-mouths in the comic, I was hoping for some of that to get in, but they didn't talk at all (I think, I don't recall any doll dialog).
The Batman vs Superman fight was dragged out with some extra stuff.
I didn't mind that.
It is a movie, after all.
The final Batman vs Joker fight seemed sped up, but...it's only slower in comic book time where things are frozen, and you get to linger.
In real time, it's how it would really look.
I dearly miss Batman's inner dialog though.
That might have paced it out right.
They didn't use any inner dialog in this one.
They inserted some of it as outer dialog, sure, but...."Year One", had inner dialog as narration, so I don't know why they couldn't have had it.
The bit where Superman gets fried by a nuke really needed the inner monologue.
I can't play that bit out in my head without it.
A friend of mine said he was let down by the Joker's performance.
Eh, he wouldn't have been my choice, but I thought he was okay.
Although, you want more than "okay", for a masterpiece.
But, that's the trouble, everyone's got their own movie in their head.
I certainly had one.
My Mutant Leader was scarier, my Joker was crazier, my Carrie Kelly sounded different, and so on.
But, despite the flaws, it gets all the big stuff right IMHO.
Batman is still badass, and a little crazy, Joker is still twistedly evil, I still love Carrie Kelly as my favorite Robin, I still love Ellen Yindel even though she's effectively "a bad guy", and, I still pity this version of Superman.
And, it's still the book that taught me to hate the US government, and cowardly little conformists. ;-)
Oh, okay, I already hated the latter with a fuming passion, and had a healthy distrust for the former just from the news.
Anyway, this movie is still that story.
And if you play both parts back to back, it's still one of the best superhero movies ever.
Up there with the Iron Mans, and Zach Snyder's "Watchmen", and yeah, even "Super".
And all three together are fuckin' Star Wars.
Does it stack up against the whole Nolan trilogy though?
Oooh, that's a tough one.
For my money, Nolans are still the best, by a nose hair, but yeah.
But, it's really apples and oranges.
So, there, that's those reviewed.