There's a mystery afoot in Gotham City, and Batman must go toe-to-toe with a mysterious vigilante, who goes by the name of Red Hood. Subsequently, old wounds reopen and old, once buried memories come into the light.
Batman discovers a mysterious teen-aged girl with super-human powers and a connection to Superman. When the girl comes to the attention of Darkseid, the evil overlord of Apokolips, events take a decidedly dangerous turn.
Batman has not been seen for ten years. A new breed of criminal ravages Gotham City, forcing 55-year-old Bruce Wayne back into the cape and cowl. But, does he still have what it takes to fight crime in a new era?
While trying to uncover the Joker's secrets, Terry McGinnis, the new Batman, discovers the greatest mystery in the career of the original Batman - the true story of the night Batman fought the Joker for the last time. Though when Bruce Wayne is almost killed in one of the Joker's new attacks, it's up to Batman Beyond to avenge his mentor and put the Joker to rest forever. Written by
John Codega <Jedimaster54321@aol.com>
the Return of the Joker - better than the 'Beyond' series, almost as good as Phantasm!
The first thing that stands out about Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker is its structure. Unlike some of the other animated Batman movies (SubZero, Mystery of the Matwoman), this one comes closer to the likes of Mask of the Phantasm to actually feeling, however in short running time, like a real feature-length movie and not simply four episodes strung together. This is important since we can get wrapped up in the mystery behind the re-emergence of the Joker and it feels fluid and without a cliffhanger-type end every several minutes. The second thing that marks this as above-average animated Batman fare is the quality of the history of two series, original animated and Beyond, and how sharp the writing and voice performances go along with the (PG-13) action and cartoon violence. The filmmakers could've just thrown in old characters like Joker and Harley Quinn and Barbara Gordon and Tim Drake just for the hell of it. But it all fits a story that's worth telling, if only for the fans looking for that awesome coda to the first series.
It's hard to try and not spoil how the Joker, fifty years into the future, re-appears with his gang the Jokerz when Bruce Wayne is now an old man and Terry McGinnis is the new young Batman. Without saying too much, the Jokerz are stealing some high-tech equipment, and something smells fishy on top of the conniving Jordan Price possibly double-crossing Wayne, who is taking back control over Wayne enterprises. But when the Joker himself crashes Wayne's party, McGinnis and Wayne try and investigate what's going on- who he really is, since he's supposed to be killed- and where he'll strike next. The writing and crafting of the mystery, and the eventual truth, is told creatively and with the kind of absorption Batman fans crave (it IS Detective Comics after all), but also impressive is the animation done mostly with computers and not skimping on making the action fairly intense (the subtraction of a good deal of the blah heavy metal music from the show is a plus here).
And lest not forget Conroy as Bruce Wayne, always a sturdy presence, and Mark Hamill as the Joker. They're probably two of the most iconic voice actors of their time just on the basis of their work in the Batman animated saga; Hamill especially gives it his all, and even puts in double-time on the voice of Jordon Price (which for a little while begs the question of him being involved in the crimes), as the clown prince of crime and mayhem. It's such a good performance that it makes up for some standard work by other voice actors (however fine) by Dean Stockwell and Angie Harmon. With just his voice he projects this iconic villain for all its worth, and ranks up there with Nicholson and (now) Ledger as the wonderful if varied versions. Somehow, even in the drama, Hamill manages to get a couple of laughs out of the audience with this Joker. Funny, since it's one of the most dramatic Batman stories yet. 8.5/10
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