I finally watched the Batman Beyond movie, Return of the Joker tonight. I’ve had the DVD for a good long while, but since I’ve been ripping a lot of them to my backend recently, I decided to watch it tonight since it was so dead simple.
It was a good movie, I liked it. In fact, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, which surprised me. The story was really well done, and unlike some of the other Batman animated movies, it really did a good job of keeping the feel of an original series episode.
That’s not to say I’m really familiar with the Batman Beyond series. I have to confess to seeing only about half a dozen episodes, if that. I do have all three seasons of them on DVD though. Again, just never really got around to watching them. There’s a lot of TV shows like that though that I own. It’s pretty common. I just don’t get to them until the bug kinda hits me.
One thing that really impressed me about the movie, that I kept noticing, was that I really liked their art style. I remember one reason I initially thought the series was going to be cool, was because it borrowed from the same animation style of the original Batman: The Animated Series runs, but now it was based in the future.
I’ve always loved the retro look of the original Batman cartoons (well, original for younger audiences), and I think that Warner Bros. has always done an amazing job with the art style. But one thing I’ve consistently noted is that when you get good animation departments working with a futuristic timeline, they really have a ball and can come up with some really amazing concepts.
That’s one reason I like animation so much — it’s much easier to play with fresh ideas.
The story was great, as well. I’ll be the first to admit that other Batman animated movies were alright. In fact, I remember going to see Batman: Mask of the Phantasm with a friend when it was in the theaters. We got there about 20 minutes late, which was a real crime, since the story flips back and forth between flashbacks constantly. We were especially screwed because we came in when they were in a flashback sequence, and the movie was really short, and we were *completely* lost. It’s still a good fun flick to watch, but the story is a bit strained.
This one, though, was much better by comparison. A lot darker, too. I’ve noticed that the newer WB animated movies are going in that direction. I’ve got mixed feelings about that, personally.
I won’t give any of the story away, but I have always remembered reading one review of the movie a long time ago that said that it was really cool how the Joker came back. And, I’ll agree completely. I was pretty skeptical how they were going to work it out, but it was well done. Plus, he is extra creepy in this one, and it seems like it delves into his character much more than before.
For that matter, now that I think about it, the other main characters (Bruce Wayne and Terry McGinnis) both get some character development in the story. We get to see a bit more about them as people. Again, I thought the story was well developed.
The only thing that bummed me about the movie itself was the video transfer. Warner Bros. is always great about their DVD transfers, but this one was non-anamorphic widescreen, meaning it was full-framed, but still letterbox. On the flip side, though, the audio track was 5.1 Dolby Digital (not 2.0 like the Amazon.com listing suggests), and it was not too shabby. It was well mixed, and even I, the non-audiophile, noticed the surround getting used quite a few times. So, they didn’t really skimp there. It wasn’t great by any means, but it was good.
I gotta say again how much I really enjoyed the art style in this one. They really seemed to put some care into it. I’m left to wonder if that transferred to the series as well. I haven’t seen any of the episodes in a while, but I’m certainly curious to check them out now.
There were so many great shots and backgrounds, and I would love to post more, but some of them would give away the story.
Good stuff, though. Can’t really go wrong with Batman. I’m surprised I hadn’t seen it before now. I like.