BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER [2000 / 2006] [Blu-ray] [USA Release]
The Original Uncut Version of the First Feature-Length Animated Batman Beyond Movie!
It is no laughing matter when the greatest villain of all comes out of the past to threaten Batman, Bruce Wayne and all of Gotham City in ‘BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER.’ A sleeker, deadlier and seemingly immortal Clown Prince of Crime is back with his own unique brand of havoc and mayhem. While trying to uncover The Joker’s secrets, the new Batman, Terry McGinnis, discovers the greatest mystery in the life of original Caped Crusader: what happened the night he fought The Joker for the last time. When Bruce Wayne is almost killed in one The Joker’s latest attacks, Batman vows to avenge his mentor and put The Joker to rest forever. Get ready and strap yourself in for a heart-stopping action, awesome adventure and amazing revelations in BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER!
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: 2001 Annie Awards: Win: Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Home Video Production. Nominated: Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production for Curt Geda. Nominated: Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production for Bruce Timm, Glen Murakami and Paul Dini. Nominated: Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Male Performer in an Animated Feature Production for Mark Hamill (As the voice of "The Joker").
Voice Cast: Will Friedle (Terry McGinnis / Future Batman), Kevin Conroy (Bruce Wayne / Batman), Mark Hamill (The Joker / Jordan Price), Angie Harmon (Commissioner Barbara Gordon), Dean Stockwell (Tim Drake), Teri Garr (Mary McGinnis), Arleen Sorkin (Dr. Harleen Quinzel / Harley Quinn), Tara Strong (Barbara Gordon / Batgirl), Mathew Valencia (Young Tim Drake / Robin), Melissa Joan Hart (Delia Dennis / Deidre Dennis / Dee Dee), Don Harvey (Charles Buntz / Chucko), Michael Rosenbaum (Stewart Carter Winthrop III / Ghoul), Frank Welker (Woof the Hyena-Man / Ace the Bathound), Henry Rollins (Benjamin Knox / Bonk), Rachael Leigh Cook (Chelsea Cunningham), Ryan O'Donohue (Matt McGinnis), Lauren Tom (Dana Tan), Vernee Watson-Johnson (Ms. Carr), Mark Jonathan Davis (V.R. Newsman), Mary Scheer (Mrs. Tim Drake), Andrea Romano (Laughing Boy) and Bruce Timm (Guard)
Director: Curt Geda
Producers: Alan Burnett, Benjamin Melniker, Bruce Timm, Compton Beaton, Glen Murakami, Jean MacCurdy, Koji Takeuchi, Michael E. Uslan, Paul Dini, Shaun McLaughlin and Teruhisa Yahaji
Screenplay: Bruce Timm (story), Glen Murakami (story), Paul Dini (story/screenplay) and Bob Kane (character creator of Batman)
Composer: Kristopher Carter
Cinematography: Junko Miyakawa (Director of Photography), Rumi Ishiguro (Director of Photography), Yoshihiro Kasahara (Director of Photography) and Yukihiko Ichikawa (Director of Photography)
Image Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
French: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio
Spanish: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio
German: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio
Swedish: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio
English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, German SDH, Spanish and Swedish
Running Time: 76 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Warner Bros. Animation / Warner Home Video
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER’  was unfortunately the only Batman Beyond animated film to ever be released. That said, it’s a really fantastic addition to the canon of Batman Beyond and helps tie together with the older animated series into the world of Batman Beyond.
‘BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER’ takes place roughly 40-years after the animated series we have come to know and love. Bruce Wayne is now old and he is no longer Batman, but Gotham is still in trouble and needs the help of Batman. So high school superstar Terry McGuinness has taken the mantle of Batman while Bruce Wayne has taken on a support role similar to Alfred. Together they do their best to protect Gotham City. Terry McGuinness and Bruce Wayne have been working together for a while now and have gotten into a groove. The animated film opens with what seems like a routine mission. Things are disrupted when an old enemy seemingly comes back from the dead. Yes it is the Clown Prince of Crime has appeared once more in Gotham City! Except that, according to Bruce Wayne, and eventually Barbara Gordon, The Joker was supposed to have died years ago.
Things step into somewhat disturbing territory and there is a really interesting flashback involving Batman, Robin and Batgirl from the original Batman animated series. It shows Tim Drake has been kidnapped by The Joker and Harley Quinn and then subjected to some weird and horrid experiments that are wound up turning him into some kind of Kid Joker. It’s during this flashback though that The Joker is accidentally electrocuted by Tim Drake and killed once and for all. It is well worth noting that this was not the original version of the scene, and the intended version was much more violent than what is in the animated film now.
The action scenes in the animated film are brilliant great fun filled action all round. It’s interesting, because The Joker here is using Tim Drake’s body, so he is immediately a better fighter than The Joker we’ve seen before. It’s more of an even battle between the two than one might expect and it makes for a more exciting final battle between them. It’s difficult to trace exactly how this is possible, but it involves a personality chip and a few other things the animated film sort of glosses over. But that’s okay because all we really want, as viewers, is to see is Batman fighting against The Joker.
The battle comes to an end when Batman manages to fry the personality chip that is stuck to Tim Drake’s neck. After all this, The Joker is finally gone and Tim Drake can be at peace. It’s a short, tight story that works as a slightly longer episode of the DC television series. The character development has more to do with Bruce Wayne and his mistakes as Batman, than it is to do with Terry McGuinness himself, and that’s okay. Terry McGuinness’s character was never the highlight of Batman Beyond and we simply want to see him kick butt as Batman and this animated film delivers 100%.
The voice cast is also really good in this animated film, which is now to be expected from DC Animated cartoons. Kevin Conroy is superb as usual as Bruce Wayne, but it was an entirely different performance from him now that his character no longer wears the cape and cowl. His character sounded much more vulnerable, both physically and emotionally, and this helped to give Bruce Wayne layers never before seen from this canon. It was a Kevin Conroy performance like no other, and it cements his position as the unparalleled true Batman.
As to Angie Harmon as Commissioner Barbara Gordon, although I haven’t seen her or heard her in fact, if anything else, her performance was heartfelt, emotional, and really appreciated the character of Barbara Gordon. Of course, how could I talk about voice acting here without mentioning one of the best performances in animated history: Mark Hamill as The Joker and his performance is, as always, absolutely terrifying and spellbinding, and he perfectly captured the madness, brutality and downright insanity of The Joker here, and one could argue that it has been one of his best ever Joker performance yet.
Overall, I had a great fun and an exciting time viewing ‘BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER,’ and I was so excited when I received my Blu-ray disc, and I certainly was not disappointed and if you really like your Batman stories dark, gritty and character-driven, or you just love Batman, I recommend this animated film, because ‘BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER’ is a brilliant DC Comics animated film and well worth adding this to your Blu-ray collection.
BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER MUSIC TRACK LIST
BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER (Main Title) (Written by Kristopher Carter) [Performed by Kristopher Carter]
INDUSTRAIL HEIST (Written by Kristopher Carter) [Performed by Kristopher Carter]
MEET THE JOKER (Written by Kristopher Carter) [Performed by Kristopher Carter]
JOKER CRASHES BRUCE’S PARTY (Written by Kristopher Carter) [Performed by Kristopher Carter]
TERRY RELIEVED OF DUTY (Written by Kristopher Carter) [Performed by Kristopher Carter]
NIGHTCLUB FIGHT / TERRY RESCUES BRUCE (Written by Kristopher Carter) [Performed by Kristopher Carter]
A TRAP FOR TIM (Written by Kristopher Carter) [Performed by Kristopher Carter]
JOKER FAMILY PORTRAIT (Written by Kristopher Carter) [Performed by Kristopher Carter]
ARKHAM MAYHEM (Written by Kristopher Carter) [Performed by Kristopher Carter]
BATMAN DEFEATS THE JOKER (Written by Kristopher Carter) [Performed by Kristopher Carter]
JOKER MEETS HIS END (Again) (Written by Kristopher Carter) [Performed by Kristopher Carter]
HEALING OLD WOUNDS (Written by Kristopher Carter) [Performed by Kristopher Carter]
CRASH (The Humble Brothers Remix) (Written by Mephisto Odyssey, Wayne Static and Julien Morris) [Performed by Mephisto Odyssey featuring Static-X]
BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER [End Title] (Written by Kristopher Carter) [Performed by Kristopher Carter featuring Kenny Wayne Shepherd]
* * * * *
Blu-ray Image Quality – Warner Home Video has brought out another stunning beautiful 1080p encoded colourful image, with a 1.37:1 standard aspect ratio, but what a shame they could not of brought this out in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio like the other Batman animated films. So overall the video is stunning and the details on the backgrounds are just gorgeous and the animation is absolutely stunning, so making this animated film just looking so much better, than my inferior DVD released which I had in my collection and now gladly I will never have to go back to watching the DVD version after seeing this Blu-ray release. I can also say that viewers will notice how clear the background looks here, how new details simply jump out. It's like Warner Home Video wiped off a layer of dust from the animated film forever. The animated film looks totally excellent, plain, simple and out of this world.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Warner Home Video has once again given us another stunning superb 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio experience and a definite upgrade from the inferior DVD release. Dialogue is crisp and clean. Surround usage is frequent and natural, sending explosions, flying around, and The Joker's devious laugh echoing from all sides. Dynamic range is solid but never quite reaches the same expanse of big budget live action films. The bass packs some power in the action sequences and the balance between vocals, score, and effects is good. But overall I am very happy with the audio track here is quite strong, providing an exciting and enveloping audio experience that will give all your speakers a good workout.
* * * * *
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: A Word From The Creators: This is an exclusive feature-length audio commentary for the animated film ‘BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER,’ and we are introduced to Bruce Timm [Producer], Paul Dini [Screenwriter/Producer], Curt Geda [Director] and Glen Murakami [Producer/Art Director]. They warn us that if you have not watched the animated film via the DVD, they suggest you to stop right away and go to the menu and click on play, then come back to the audio commentary. To me this is a big fat no no, because Warner Home Video should of done a new audio commentary, but this time mentioning that you are watching the Blu-ray disc. With the audio commentary they warn us there is a lot of spoiler alerts, so be warned. With this audio commentary, the people already mentioned tend to on the whole waffle on the banal side and lots in joke information, but now and again we do get some good snippets of information on certain scenes you are watching. When we first see the scene at the Disco, we are informed that they think these specific scenes were done by an animated team with the Japanese animation studio TMS and of course the style of these particular animation scenes is definitely a different style to the rest of the animated film, but despite this, it still blends in quite smoothly well with the rest of the Batman animated film. Now and again we do get some highlight information and including discussing some of the difficulties of working on the animated film while the series itself was still in production, conceptualising the story line, and brief mentions of some extra bits of disturbing footage that were excised even before any controversy was highlighted. The people doing the audio commentary seem to bounce off each other, but with Bruce Timm he tended to lead the discussion from the rest of team. When you see the luxury boat get blown up by The Joker, they all feel the animation effects is pretty spectacular as well as amazing and they also talk about how hard and difficult it is to portray something being blown up, or hoe to animate the water, as it is some of the toughest stuff to produce to get it just right and to make it look as realistic as possible for animation, and again they praise the Japanese animation team for all their sterling work. People who are great fans of this animated film, will probably find this particular audio commentary of great interest, but for me I could only give it a three star rating, as it tended to get slightly boring and very silly pointless banter at certain points in the animated film.
Special Feature: Animatics  [480i] [1.37:1] [3:20] This is basically a very rough animated black-and-white slideshow sketches from three scenes from the animated film. The Animatics is accompanied by music, dialogue, and some isolated incomplete sound effects. Though not the most thrilling or thought provoking supplement, animation buffs and also fans of the Batman series might find something to like here, and of course these rough sketches eventually gets turned into the actual animated film.
Special Feature: Beyond “Batman Beyond”  [480i] [1.37:1] [11:59] Here we get a look at behind-the-scenes feature, and we get to hear comments from the screenwriters, producers, animators, voice talent, and of course the composer involved with the animated film. It is broken up into different sections that includes “The Animation process;” “Voice Recording” and “The Music.” Topics that are basically touched upon includes the dialogue recording process, conceptualising the music film score, making the film's music video, and some background on the original TV show and it is definitely worth a view if you are a dedicate Batman fan. Contributors include: William Alan "Will" Friedle [Voice of Batman], Curt Geda [Director], Paul Dini [Producer/Screenwriter], Glen Murakami [Producer], Kevin Conroy [Voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman], Bruce Timm [Producer], Kristopher Carter [Composer], Static X [Metal Band], Mephisto Odyssey [Music Group], Danielle Berman and Kenny Wayne Shepherd [Guitarist].
Special Feature: Video Character Bios  [480i] [1.37:1] [5:03] Here we get to the character files of the main different characters portrayed in the animated film ‘BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER.’ We get to view the following information, which is as follows: Name: Bruce Wayne; Origin: Gotham City; Age; late Seventies, Early Eighties, accounts vary; Occupation: CEO of Wayne Enterprises; Height: 6’ 1;” Weight: 195lbs; Hair: White. Name: Delia and Deidre Dennis [Dee-Dee Twins]; Origin: Gotham City; Occupation: Criminals, Thrill Seekers; Height: 5’ 6;” Weight: 110lbs; Hair: Red and Matted to look like yarn. Name: Joker [Unknown Origin]; Age: Late Forties; Occupation: Criminal; Height: 6’ 3;” Hair: Green. Name: Terry McGinnis; Origin: Gotham City; Age: 17; Occupation: Crime Fighter, High School Student, and Personal Assistant to Bruce Wayne; Height: 5’ 10;” Weight: 170lbs; Hair: Black. Names: Woof [Unknown Origin]; Age: Unknown; Occupation: Criminal and Splicer Experimentee; Height: 5’ 8;” Weight: 140lbs; Mane: Black; Fur: Grey with black spots. With the information we get to read, you get to read much more information than I have supplied you about their characters and what they do in the animated film and Warner Bros. Animation hasn't let you down.
Special Feature: Confidential Bat Footage [For Your Eyes Only]  [480i] [1.37:1] [5:19] The following segment we get to view was to follow the scene with Terry, his Mother and Brother. It was deleted for reason of pacing and thus not animated for the film. It is shown in the fil in the form of a very rough Animatics/Storyboards drawings and shot to a dialogue track that is very sporadic. There are some interesting moments toward the end of the second scene featuring Bruce Wayne visiting an abandoned Arkham Asylum.
Special Feature: Music Video “Crash”: Mephisto Odyssey featuring Static X  [1080i] [1.37:1] [3:43] This is the official video version of the Mephisto Odyssey Vs. Static-X collaboration for the song "Crash" as featured on Batman Beyond and Directed by Len Wiseman. This video Features Wayne Static, Koichi Fakuda, Mikael Johnston, Orpheos Dejournette, Josh Camacho and Barry Eves.
Special Feature: ‘Young Justice’ Trailer  [1080p] [1.85:1] [00:55] This is a Cartoon Network animated trailer that looks totally spectacular and the characters that are highlighted are Superboy, Kid Flash, Miss Martian, Robin, Aqualad and Artemis. Not only is it in stunning 1080p high definition image quality, but also in awesome and outstanding stereo sound.
Trailers: Here we get to view three specific DC Comics trailers and they are as follows: ‘ALL STAR SUPERMAN’ [Blu-ray and DVD]  [1080p] [1.85:1] [1:10]; ‘GREEN LANTERN: Emerald Knights’ [Blu-ray and DVD]  [1080p] [1.85:1] [1:10] and DC COMICS [Download Promotion] [iPhone / iPod touch / iPad / SONY PSP / Online]  [1080p] [1.85:1] [00:48].
Finally, I sincerely believe that all Batman Beyond fans need to rush out and pick up this stunning Blu-ray release. Even if you haven't upgraded to the Blu-ray format yet, you should do so without delay. ‘BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER’ in 1080p high definition is totally awesome and a really excellent experience! The main feature alone is well worth the price of admission, to be honest, but having it in high definition gives the film a new, fresh look. It's never looked or sounded this good before, and fans will definitely notice the difference and improvement 100%. Don't hesitate with this Blu-ray release and go out and pick up ‘BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER’ and I will guarantee you will not regret it. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado
Le Cinema Paradiso