Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)
Director: Curt Geda
Starring: Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Will Friedle
To be honest, this isn't the first time I've talked about an animated superhero film on here. What piqued my interest about this specific project was a combination of hearing how it went a little darker than children's programming typically does and Netflix guessing I'd give it about four stars. It didn't hurt that I used to watch the television show occasionally and thought favorably of it. However, that's all before viewing. Let's see how it stands up to the expectations.
Batman Beyond, the television series, was a sort of spinoff of the fantastically well done Batman animated series of the '90s. Batman Beyond takes place several decades in the future where an older retired Bruce Wayne works with a protege named Terry McGinnis to take on the role of Batman. The show was a pretty interesting look into the future of Batman, and although audiences of the original Batman animated series had been exposed to Bruce Wayne as a mentor (Robin, Batgirl), Batman Beyond creates a different dynamic since Wayne can't actually be there to aid McGinnis in the field.
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker feels less like a movie and more like an extended episode of the television series. As the title implies, it's about the notorious Batman villain Joker's return to the future Gotham City. By itself, such an event is quite the cause for alarm, but the plot thickens once we learn that Bruce Wayne is quite certain that Joker had died years ago.
While there are many aspects to Return of the Joker that feel like they are devised more for a younger audience, there are just as many that feel more mature. In the first scene in which the Joker is introduced, the maniac actually kills one of his henchmen by impaling his heart with a tiny flag. It makes the threat feel a little more real when people can actually die in the story should our hero fail (not that we for a moment would think that Batman himself would die). I liked the way the movie handled the relationship between Bruce Wayne and the Joker, and was shocked at just how dark the real final confrontation between them was as well as the film's final twist. The dynamic between Wayne and McGinnis is also a dramatic focus of the film and one that I feel pays off reasonably well.
Overall, I think this was very well put together for something tied down by obligations to a younger audience. I'm torn between rating this on its own merit and rating it based on what it was trying to be. If I split the difference, I think I can settle on four stars.
Netflix Rating: Really Liked It