Monday, June 16, 2014

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Curt Geda, 2000) Review

While the Marvel Cinematic Universe is truly a fantastic thing and is the gift that keeps on giving, DC had the idea of multiple iterations feeding into one universe down perfectly before Marvel did. With shows such as 'Batman: The Animated Series', 'Superman: The Animated Series', 'Batman Beyond' and many Justice League iterations feeding into one giant master plan, there was a sense that there was strong continuity and closure so what better way to show this off than with another animated Batman film....I'm game for it!

Set in the future where Terry McGinnis (Will Friedle) has taken over the mantel of Batman over a now elderly Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy), Bruce is given a haunting meeting from a enemy long though dead...The Joker (Mark Hamill). Terry is warned by Bruce about the huge threat that The Joker poses but Terry is too intrigued by how The Joker is still alive after he was killed back when Bruce was Batman. Before taking on the clown prince of crime himself, Terry has the find Batman's previous partners and discover what really happened the night Joker died and how he's back.

I can't go on ahead without talking about on thing. Mark Hamill. Mark Hamill is absolutely tremendous as the Joker as he has always been up until he dropped the role after hit his peak in Batman: Arkham City. He manages to keep the Joker's comedic, clown-like edge while hamming up the frightening and intense psychotic side that is most evident here. The rest of the cast also do a good job. Will Friedle as Terry delivers a VERY different interpretation of Batman as having someone else under the cowl is risky yet diverse. It's also interesting to see the characters we've known and loved much older and to see how they've ended up after giving up a life of vigilance.

The biggest complaint that comes to mind with this one is that I feel it doesn't go far enough. Yes, it's intense and violent and all that good stuff but a lot is started yet it never goes the full way. In addition, outside of the big Joker scenes, nothing else really stands out. I remember Terry fighting against Joker's gang, the flashback scenes....and that's about it. Nothing else really sticks out except the action scenes, which are excellent, but nothing else sticks (wow, that's redundant). In addition, many, many viewers will be left confused if they have no idea about the animated Batman shows. While I did get by having not watched any of 'Batman Beyound' but I have watched almost episode of 'Batman: The Animated Series' so that helped.

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker is a great watch for Batman fans but ONLY for Batman fans. Anyone not too familiar with the franchises goings-ons so they will be left ostracized from what the hell is happening. The animation matches well with the tv show (and the flashback has one of the best Joker designs I've seen) and the voice acting is tremendous as a result of the excellent Mark Hamill reprising his best work since Luke Skywalker....probably actually better than Luke Skywalker....much better.

May leave out people who aren't too familiar but it's a well crafted addition to the Batman animated film line-up.

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