Saturday, January 19, 2013

ANI-MOVIES, *Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker

Probably one of the best of the made-for-video animated Batflicks(Mask Of The Phantasm was a theatrical release), Return Of The Joker was the only movie of Batman Beyond, which also acted as a kind of finale to the series.

Set sometime after Season 3 of the show, a remaining group of the Jokerz(a street gang enspired by the Joker)has been working with a criminal claiming to be the original Joker. Meanwhile, the elderly Bruce Wayne has regained control of his family's business, but Joker & Co. crash his big party. Luckily, Batman 2.0(aka: Terry McGinnis)is on hand to stop them. The return of his old nemesis forces Bruce to take away the Batsuit from Terry. That doesn't stop the Jokerz from hunting down him down while Joker busts into the Batcave and nearly kills Bruce. Barbara Gordon fills Terry in on the demise of the first Joker from back in her Batgirl days when Tim Drake(the second Robin)was kidnapped and tortured by the Joker, which caused Tim to shoot him. Terry suspects Tim has some connection to the new Joker, mainly because of his current expertise as a satellite engineer, and the Joker's been stealing lots of computer parts used to control satellites. Joker uses an orbiting particle-beam satellite to shoot down the Batmobile, and wrecking half of Gotham in the process! Batman arrives at the Joker's hideout, and is stunned to find out that Tim Drake is really the Joker who the original one had planted some of his DNA inside him when he was Robin. Thankfully, Terry is successful in freeing Tim from the Joker's control, and stops the satellite laser.

This was a triumph for Warner Bros. video animation, which later helped set the stage for the current DC Universe line of films. It was also alot more mature then the previous DC Comics animated outlets up until then, so much so that there is a unrated version of this film that's much more worth owning. The animation is also profoundly upgraded. Batman Beyond was already heavily influenced by cyberpunk anime like Akira and Bubblegum Crisis, but it really shows up alot more here than in the TV series, especially in the shots involving the space laser destroying the city. The TV series also occasionally suffered from a lack of decent writing, but this movie was a profound boost in that and making it a true Batman story more with mystery and intrigue. There's also better development with the characters, more so with the original Batman characters than the Beyond ones. This is a must for all Batfans, even ones who didn't watch BB.

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