'Rewind' is a series of reviews that take a look back at the movies of yesteryear. These reviews are NOT spoiler free, and if you read it you will probably ruin the movie for yourself if you haven't seen it already. Enjoy!
Title: Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
Release Date: December 12th, 2000
Starring: Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Will Friedle
Written by: Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and Glen Muramaki
Run time: 77 minutes
In the wake of 'The Dark Knight' there is obviously a spark of interest in the caped crusader. New fans and old fans alike have been delving into other stories of the batman. Luckily there is plenty of content for us fans to revisit. 'Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker' is a straight-to-dvd feature that deserves another look. The story kicks in about 40 years after the original animated series with a gang called "The Jokerz". The gang is centered around everybody's favorite villain, the Joker. The Jokerz are seen stealing a large metallic device until batman comes and kicks their asses. They eventually get away with only a chip.
The Jokerz street gang.
Enter the new Joker who sounds identical to the Joker of Bruce Wayne's time. He even looks identical. The Joker kills one of the henchmen out of anger for not getting the desired device. Bruce tells Terry (the new batman) that this couldn't possibly be the Joker from his era. Bruce says that the Joker died before his eyes. When Terry goes out clubbing, Bruce Wayne gets attacked by the new Joker.
The new Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill).
Terry finds Wayne on the ground with a large grin on his face. Terry gives Bruce the antidote and wants answers. Commissioner Barbara Gordon (the former Batgirl) tells Terry the truth about the Joker's death. This is where my favorite part of the movie comes in.
Afterwards it's revealed that Robin is the new Joker! Plot twist! After Terry discovers this he kicks the Joker's ass, says a few puns, and everybody lives happily ever after. Well, that's the short version anyways. I'll leave the rest of the movie watching to you... even though I spoiled pretty much everything already.
Batman kicks ass when he isn't saying lame puns.
Now, the animation in this movie is top notch. From the opening scene to the credits this movie delivers smooth action sequences and fluid motion. It's on a higher level than the Batman Beyond show, but it's still pretty similar. They kept the art style almost identical, but just added a lot more frames of animation. The only complaint I have with the art direction is the backgrounds. The backgrounds never really seemed that memorable and they don't stand out. It's just bland.
I love the art direction. Although the Joker looks kind of like a douche with that hair.
The weakest part of this movie is the sound department. The voice acting is fairly well done, with Kevin Conroy letting his manly voice resound. Mark Hamill also does an excellent job in the flick, that laugh is chilling. I can't say I love Will Friedle's voice acting much though. But overall the voice acting is good. Where the movie really hits a sour note is in the music. When the background tones aren't Danny Elfman-esque they sound like a horrible mess of bad hair metal and techno. It's too bad, because Batman: The Animated Series had wonderful music.
You won't be buying the Original Soundtrack anytime soon.
Overall, 'Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker' is a solid title worth a revisit. It has a strong narrative, fluid animation, and some quality voice acting. If you haven't seen this movie you should definitely get on it, because I know that 'The Dark Knight' left you with a Batman Crave. If you can, buy the unedited version because it's a lot more violent. And violence is good kids.