• Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
Ok, so you're a die-hard Batman fan, and it's taking you a while to warm up to Batman Beyond. Hey, it's ok. I understand. I felt the same way you do, and I'm here for you... I mean, Bruce is now a brooding old man, shuffling along with the help of a cane, much like Ozzy Osborne. Our new Batman is just a punk kid named Terry McGinnis, more akin to wise-ass Spiderman than the beloved Bat. He's got more gadgets and gizmos than Bruce ever had. But give the kid a chance.

For those who don't know, Batman Beyond takes place some 40 years into the future. Bruce Wayne has long since hung up the cowl and tights. Then fate knocks on his mansion door in the form of punk kid Terry McGinnis, who soon becomes the new Dark Knight. Enough prologue? Ok, ok... sheesh. Batman Beyond - Return of the Joker brings back the most notorious villian in Batman lore. Voiced by the AMAZING Mark Hamill, the Joker is more maniacal than here than Jack Nicholson ever dreamed to make him. He's twisted, evil, and you can tell he loved every single second of it. Hamill's voice just rips out of the TV and commands you attention. Yes, whiny Luke is THAT GOOD.

This one ain't for the kiddies, folks. The U.S. release of this had to be toned down by the studio because of the violence. The fans complained and wa-la, we get the Uncute DVD version. And man-o-man, the action here is top-notch. The punches are bone crunching, the kicks make your ribs ache, and the style is one of the best blends of Anime and American animation you'll ever see.

Yeah, yeah, that's all well and good, but what about the STORY? Well, don't get your knickers in a bunch, I'm getting there. Ok, so it's been 40 some-odd years since Batman last faced down the Joker. He should be dead, right? Or at least so old he'd be nothing more than the scourge of a sunny-Florida retirment facility... WRONG. The J-man is back, he's young, he insane, and he's never been better (or worse, as the case may be). How'd they do it? Well, I'm not telling you that, but rest assured, it's a great device that has everything to do with how sick and twisted the Joker is. The bottom line is that it works.

This is a smart, stylish, adult telling of a new age for the Bat, and it couldn't have been done better. Quite frankly, it is one of the best comic book films ever made, regardless of the fact that it's animated.

Here is where the film falls a little short. It's presenting in the old formatted-to-fit-your-screen (how do they know how big my screen is anyway?) 1.33:1 Full Screen ratio. Boo! The animation in this is so good, why not present it in widescreen?

Other than that, the colors look great. They've vibrant and clear, even at the edges.


If you have the means, you can hear this one in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. And believe me, it's well done. The sound here is some good stuff, and Hamill's twisted Joker laugh will drill into your spine.


The extras on the disk are nothing to write home about, but they're not bad, either. They include, commentary from the filmmakers, most notably, Paul Dini, the screenwriter. His insite and views of Batman are a wonderful addition to the track. We also get the standard Production Notes, a Behind-the-Scenes doc*mentary, which is fairly bland, Animated Character Bios (cool idea), Trailers, the "Crash" music video, Weblinks, Animation tests, and a deleted scene shown through story boards set to dialogue. All in all, pretty standard stuff. The commentary is great, the storyboards are pretty cool (if you're interested in the process of animation), but the rest leaves something to be desired. Interviews about how Batman Beyond came about, where the idea was first bounced around, how they decided on the style... anything more would have been nice.
Bottom line: This is an exceptional story, with outstanding, highly stylized animation, and great voice work (most notably by Hamill). It's not for the little ones due to the violence, but any fan of the Bat should eat this up. And if you're not in tune with Batman Beyond, consider this a great initiation into the world. It's a fun one, and well worth your $$.

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