#1  
Old 04-20-2003, 04:30 PM
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (UNCUT)



I was a big fan of the show Batman Beyond...when it was on at a convenient time, anyway. I'd been looking forward to the video release of the movie for quite a while, but then absolutely refused to buy it when it was delayed so that Warner could edit it for the little kiddies. LAME. So then about a year and a half later, they finally worked up the balls to release the uncut version, and based on what I hear the changes were, I'm VERY glad they decided to take the chance and give us the real goods. So here's my take on the original, uncut version of the best Batman movies since the original.

STORY:
Gotham City of the future. The new Batman, young Terry McGuiness (Will Freidle) fights crime under the tutilage of the retired Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy). A new group of thugs called Jokerz (guess who they're named after) has been ripping off several pieces of high-tech equipment, and it just so happens the one calling the shots is the real Joker (Mark Hamill) himself!

ANIMATION:
For those of you who've seen the series, you can tell the movie is a genuine step above in quality. The action scenes are fluid and dynamic, and even the quieter, dialogue-driven sequences are handled with class, but that probably has more to do with the vocal casting. Which brings me to...

ACTING:
Kevin Conroy has always been the greatest Bruce Wayne, and he plays the part with eighty years of emotional baggage. Does it work? Fuck yes! Will Freidle does great at the younger Batman, giving a perfect balance of adolescent cockiness and dead-seriousness. And has there been a greater Joker than Mark Hamill? I think not. Not even Jack Nicholson could stand up to this slick mofo. Joker is leaner, meaner, and more psychotic than ever, and I enjoyed every damn minute of it. The rest of the cast does fine as well; there's Angie Harmon as Commissioner Barbara Gordon, Dean Stockwell as the older Tim Drake (Robin II), and even the Jokerz feature the voices of Melissa Joan Hart, Henry Rollins, and the animal man himself, Frank Welker.

THE MOVIE:
For such a short movie (about 75 minutes), BB: RoTJ manages to cover just about all the bases; they establish the relationship between Wayne and McGuiness, why McGuiness has become Batman, their personal lives, their secrets; even Terry's family and girlfriend have a stake in things. However, as I said, for such a short movie, it could be argued that not quite enough time was taken to make sure those unfamiliar with the series could know the characters better. We do see a side of Terry that the series overlooked, but it's still only mildly explored. And we're still given little insight as to the true reason Bruce decided to hang up the Batsuit, aside from getting old. This could have been a great opportunity to detail that. Still, as a stand-alone movie, RoTJ works very well.

The revealing of the future Joker is creepishly inspired, and his confrontation with the elder Bruce Wayne is a great twist. The highlight, however, is the flashback to the days of the original Batman in his prime, where he takes on the Joker for what he then thought was the final time. The Joker's actions are insidious, and his downfall is pretty damn tragic when you think about it a while. To say more would spoil. Finally, there's the climactic duel between the future Joker and the younger Batman, which I for one will remember for a long time; the banter, the action...surprisingly classic stuff. Here's a clip:

JOKER: You're out of your league, McGuiness. I know every trick the original Batman and Robin knew at their peak.
BATMAN: Maybe. But you don't know a thing about me.

What didn't strike me so well? (SLIGHT SPOILERS HERE) There are some big logic leaps. The reason behind the Joker's return, while diabolical, is a stretch, even by comic book terms. Yes, it's clear the Joker was a technological and artistic genius, but I never once caught wind that he was THAT FRIGGIN' SMART! Also, the Joker's newest plot is pretty cliche...y'know the big giant laser motif that futuristic bad guys seem to enjoy so much. Though I must admit, seeing the beam tear through a busy cineplex was an interesting shot.

OVERALL:
I only wish the live-action Batman movies could be as good as this one. If you can get over the fact that it's animated, you can have yourself a great time (it is rated PG-13). A little slipping here and there, but a fine work of storytelling and animation. And if you don't like that, then the joke's on you! (Haw haw.)

8.5/10

Last edited by Weapon X; 04-20-2003 at 04:32 PM..
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  #2  
Old 04-28-2003, 05:17 PM
I wasn't a big fan of the Batman of the Future (as it's called in the UK) cartoon much as I was with the old ones, when Bruce Wayne was Batman. But I actually saw this with my lill' bro (actually thats a lame excuse....I watched it on my own...making sure no one was home like ) but I actually dug this one.

The Return of Mark Hamil as the Joker was a blast, just to see The Joker back on a Batman cartoon was great. I actually laughed at his daft one-liners. I enjoyed this, but probably not as much as you did Weapon X

6/10
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