REVIEW: LEGO DC BATMAN: FAMILY MATTERS

Starring

Troy Baker (Marvel Anime)
Alyson Stoner (Step Up 3D)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Jason Spisak (Batman: Hush)
Steve Blum (Wolverine & The X-Men)
Zach Callison (Justice League: War)
Gary Anthony Williams (TMNT: OFTS)
Cam Clarke (He-Man and The Masters of The Universe)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Ralph Garman (Ted)
Josh Keaton (The Spectacular Spider-man)
Tom Kenny (Catdog)
Nolan North (Ultimate Avengers)
André Sogliuzzo (Family Guy)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Goes to Rome)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk vs)
Christian Lanz (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

LEGO DC: Batman - Family Matters (2019)After being bored with a board meeting after stopping Solomon Grundy from stealing a magic staff, Bruce Wayne puts a new machine, Brother Eye, in charge, as he proceeds to sell Wayne Tech. However, this leads to Two-Face buying the company, and plotting to use Brother Eye to take other Gotham and destroy both Batman and Bruce Wayne. Also, Red Hood has arrived to challenge the Bat Family.LEGO DC: Batman - Family Matters (2019)While some people may not like this, this is actually a good film for kids who are not yet ready for films like the ones in the DCEU or the Dark Knight Trilogy. As a result of this being a Lego DC movie, they did change Red Hood’s origin story to be more kid-friendly, however, seeing as the Lego DC films are part of their own continuity, it should not be a problem. Also, the movie has some good references to classic Batman shows and cartoons (one scene has the bat poles from the 1966 Batman series, complete with automatic suit up, and another scene has a Grey Ghost playing as Batman and Two-Face duel with swords, a neat reference to the episode from Batman: The Animated Series).LEGO DC: Batman - Family Matters (2019)However, there can be some annoying things (Nightwing and Batgirl keep bringing up a missed text that got them on non-speaking terms, which they never shut up about), but this is a good DTV movie and one that is perfect for younger kids or anyone into Lego or superheroes.LEGO DC: Batman - Family Matters (2019)

REVIEW: BATMAN: HUSH

Starring

Jason O’Mara (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Jennifer Morrison (Once Upon A Time)
Jerry O’Connell (Veronica Mars)
Rebecca Romijn (X-Men)
Maury Sterling (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Rainn Wilson (Star Trek: Discovery)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty)
Peyton List (Remember Me)
Bruce Thomas (Army of Darkness)
Stuart Allan (Rise of The Guardians)
James Garrett (Titanic)
Geoffrey Arend (Body of Proof)
Jason Spisak (Batman: Bad Blood)
Peyton List (Gotham)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Goes To Rome)

Batman: Hush (2019)Bruce Wayne is attending an evening party where he meets Selina Kyle and his childhood friend and renowned brain surgeon Thomas Elliot, until he receives an alert from Alfred about a child kidnapping from Bane. After a brief fight, Batman is confronted by Lady Shiva who tells him an unknown intruder has used the Lazarus Pit and asks for his assistance in identifying them. Batman rescues the child, but Catwoman steals the ransom money. As Batman swings through Gotham City in pursuit of her, a mysterious villain shoots his grapple line and he falls to the ground, fracturing his skull. He is nearly killed by a group of nearby criminals until he is saved by Catwoman and Batgirl. Catwoman delivers the ransom money to Poison Ivy, who is controlling her through a hypnotic kiss.Batman: Hush (2019)Alfred summons Thomas Elliot to remove skull fragments from Bruce’s brain. Batman recovers and pays a trip to Blackgate Penitentiary to interrogate Bane on the whereabouts of the money. Bane eventually escapes and Batman strikes a deal with Amanda Waller, who allows Bane’s escape so Batman can track him. Bane leads Batman to Poison Ivy’s now abandoned greenhouse where Catwoman is. Waller captures Bane and returns him to Blackgate Penitentiary.Batman: Hush (2019)Seeking retaliation for Ivy’s manipulation, Catwoman offers information on her whereabouts to Batman in exchange for a kiss and a tenuous romance blooms between them. Batman and Catwoman follow Poison Ivy to Metropolis. Batman finds Lex Luthor, now a probationary member of the Justice League, and asks for information on a delivery list of an ethylene compound to track down Ivy’s location. There they find Ivy has taken control of Superman and she commands the Man of Steel to kill Batman and Catwoman. Batman observes that Superman is subconsciously resisting Ivy’s influence, holding back on his attempts to kill both of them. Using knuckledusters made from Kryptonite, Batman stalls Superman while Catwoman lets Lois Lane fall from the Daily Planet building. Superman breaks free of Ivy’s control to save Lois. Batman, Superman, and Catwoman work together to capture Ivy, who reveals that she was being manipulated by a mysterious foe called Hush.Batman: Hush (2019)Bruce Wayne goes on a date with Selina, who is unaware of the former’s identity as Batman, much to the encouragement of his family. The two, along with Thomas Elliot, attend an opera when Harley Quinn arrives and attempts to kill Bruce. In the ensuing struggle, Dr. Elliot is apparently shot dead by Joker. An enraged Batman violently beats Joker who claims that he is innocent, and he is stopped short of killing him by Commissioner James Gordon. Bruce attends Elliot’s funeral and deduces Joker’s innocence as well that Hush must know his secret identity. After foiling a robbery by Riddler, Batman chases after Hush but fails to catch him. Afraid for her safety, Batman asks Selina to leave Gotham so she doesn’t fall victim to Hush, who vowed to murder everyone close to him. He eventually decides to trust Catwoman and reveals his identity to her, and the two become a romantic crime-fighting couple.Batman: Hush (2019)Later, Batman investigates the office of Thomas Elliot and discovers one of his patients was someone called Arthur Wynne who sought an operation for an inoperable brain tumor. Nightwing and Catwoman investigate a graveyard break-in and are attacked by the Scarecrow. Nightwing is overpowered by the fear toxin, but Catwoman defeats Scarecrow and gets Nightwing to safety. However, she is captured by Hush after Nightwing escapes.Batman: Hush (2019)At Arkham Asylum, Batman interrogates Riddler who reveals that he has been Wynne as well as Hush. He had used a Lazarus Pit to cure himself of his brain tumor and during his time in the Lazarus Pit, he figured out Batman’s identity as Bruce Wayne and formed a plan involving several villains to destroy both the personal life and the crime-fighting career of Batman. Batman deduces that Riddler is actually Clayface mimicking his identity while the latter communicated via satellite. After defeating Clayface, Batman finds Riddler’s location and the two engage in a final confrontation. Riddler is nearly killed, but is saved by Batman with his grapnel. However, Catwoman cuts the line and allows Riddler to fall to his death. In the aftermath, Batman and Catwoman decide to go their separate ways after a fierce disagreement over Batman’s ethical code. Both of them acknowledge that while their relationship cannot happen presently, it may someday.Batman: Hush (2019)We see Batman go through a lot of trials in this movie. He takes on his gallery, he explores love, and his code is tested. The movie is great in the visuals, the writing, the music, the voice acting, and so much more. There are changes made to make it fit in the current universe and it works well. A good balance of humor and drama in between all the action. Some will complain about the changes and cuts, but the movie maintains the heart of the story when it comes to Batman and his challenges. A worthwhile watch for fans of Batman.

 

REVIEW: THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS

Starring

Louis C.K. (Trumbo)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
Kevin Hart (Get Hard)
Jenny Slate (The Lego Batman Movie)
Ellie Kemper (Set Tape)
Lake Bell (Man Up)
Dana Carvey (Wayne’s World)
Hannibal Buress (Bad Neighbours)
Bobby Moynihan (Sisters)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Steve Coogan (Alan Partiridge)
Albert Brooks (The Simpsons)
Jim Cummings (Christopher Robin)
John Kassir (Tales From The Crypt)
Jason Marsden (Young Justice)
Jim Ward (Batman Vs Two-Face)

Louis C.K., Lake Bell, and Bobby Moynihan in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)A spoiled Jack Russell Terrier named Max lives with his owner Katie in a Manhattan apartment. While she is at work during the day, he hangs out with other pets in the building: tabby cat Chloe, pug Mel, dachshund Buddy, and budgerigar Sweet Pea. One day, Katie adopts Duke, a large Newfoundland mix from the pound, leaving Max jealous because of her divided focus on Duke. Enraged by Max’s attitude towards him, Duke tries to abandon Max in an alley, but they are both attacked by cats led by Sphynx cat Ozone who removes both dogs’ collars and leaves them to be caught by Animal Control. Duke fears that he will be killed if he goes back to the pound. When Gidget, a white Pomeranian who is not so secretly in love with Max, discovers that he is missing, she decides to find him.Louis C.K. and Kevin Hart in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)Max and Duke are rescued by a white rabbit named Snowball, the leader of “The Flushed Pets”—a gang of feral sewer-dwelling animals who hate humans because their owners mistreated and abandoned them. After Max and Duke pretend to despise humans as much as they do by saying they killed their owners, the Flushed Pets invite them to join. Before they can prove their loyalty by allowing a one-fanged viper to bite them, Snowball learns from the cats that Max and Duke are tamed. The two dogs escape the sewers and board a ferry to Brooklyn, inadvertently killing the viper in the process. Snowball vows to kill them and leads the Flushed Pets after them.Louis C.K. and Jenny Slate in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)Meanwhile, Gidget recruits a red-tailed hawk named Tiberius to find Max, but he mistakenly locates Ozone, whom Gidget coerces into telling what he knows about the dogs. They then enlist Mel, Buddy, Chloe, guinea pig Norman and Sweet Pea. On the way, they meet Pops, an old Basset Hound who helps Gidget and the pets find Max. Gidget and her team encounter Snowball, who vows to kill them as well, and Norman is captured as the rest of Gidget’s team flees.Louis C.K. in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)In the meantime, Max and Duke raid a sausage factory for food. While there, Duke tells Max about his previous owner, Fred, an elderly man who adopted him as a puppy and loved spending time with him. One day, Duke got lost while chasing a butterfly and was caught by Animal Control, but Fred never came to claim him. Max convinces him to visit Fred’s house in a nearby neighborhood, confident Fred will still love him and take him back. When they arrive at Fred’s house, they learn from the resident cat Reginald that Fred has died. Heartbroken, Duke accuses Max of attempting to get rid of him and barks at the new homeowners who have just returned to the house and called Animal Control. The handlers catch Max, but Duke interferes long enough for Max to escape and ends up being captured instead.Albert Brooks, Tara Strong, Chris Renaud, Lake Bell, Bobby Moynihan, Jenny Slate, and Hannibal Buress in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)While trying to rescue Duke as he follows the Animal Control van, Max is attacked by Snowball who tries to kill him. However, when his gang is captured, Snowball realizes that he and Max must work together to rescue them. They drive a city bus into the van on the Brooklyn Bridge, stopping traffic. The Flushed Pets encircle Max, unaware of his partnership with Snowball, but Gidget and her team save him. Upon seeing Gidget using her kung-fu fighting skills, Max starts to fall in love with her. The van gets stuck in scaffolding and the Flushed Pets escape. As soon as Max gets the keys to Duke’s cage, the van plummets into the East River with him inside. Max is unable to free Duke, so Snowball jumps into the river to retrieve the keys, allowing them to escape the sinking van.Louis C.K. and Lake Bell in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)The entire group returns to the apartment block by pig-driven taxi. Max expresses his love for Gidget, who returns his affection. Snowball and the Flushed Pets then come up with a new plan to annihilate all humans, but a little girl named Molly arrives and adopts Snowball and the remaining Flushed Pets return to the sewers. At first, Snowball resists, but gives in and lets himself become a domesticated pet. The other pets return to their homes and embrace their owners, and Max and Duke finally reunite with Katie, sparking a true friendship as brothers. In a post-credits scene, Buddy and Mel show up in costume at a party in poodle Leonard’s apartment, hosted by a now-friendlier Snowball.This is clearly aimed at kids but has plenty of humor that adults will enjoy. I’m in my 50s and laughed long and loud at some of the antics. The script is good and moves quickly. I was never bored.

REVIEW: BATMAN VS TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

Starring

Troy Baker (Young Justice)
Eric Bauza (The Liud House)
Darren Criss (Glee)
Baron Vaughn (Mystery Science Theater 3000)
Kyle Mooney (zoolander 2)
Ben Giroux (Henry Danger)
Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Brian George (The Big BAng Theory)
Tom Kenny (The Superhero Squad)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)

Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019)While touring at Powers Industrial, Barbara Gordon witnesses a powerful generator being stolen by the Foot Clan and also spots four creatures she believes are metahumans during the robbery. She relays the information to Batman, who fights the Foot Clan at Wayne Enterprises before he is defeated by the Shredder. The four metahumans Batgirl was referring to are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who have arrived in Gotham to stop Shredder’s schemes and find out who his new ally is. After defending Wayne Enterprises from Penguin, the Turtles meet Batman in an alleyway and proceed to fight him as both sides believe the other is working with Shredder. The Turtles are forced to retreat when Batman gains the upper hand on them with his superior fighting prowess.Troy Baker, Ben Giroux, and Rachel Bloom in Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019)After researching Batman and his reported locations, Donatello manages to lead the Turtles into the Batcave, where they have a brief scuffle with Robin. After Batman and Batgirl arrive, the Turtles introduce themselves and offer their assistance to the Bat Family when they realize they have the same goal. Robin reveals to the group that Shredder is working with Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins. In exchange for the secrets of the Lazarus Pit, Shredder and his subordinates aid Ra’s in building a machine that will throw Gotham into chaos by infecting everyone in the city with mutagen combined with the Joker’s venom. The two break into Arkham Asylum, where Joker gives them the formula for his venom in exchange for a canister of mutagen.Brian George, Eric Bauza, Troy Baker, Ben Giroux, Darren Criss, Baron Vaughn, and Rachel Bloom in Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019)The Bat Family and the Turtles are alerted of an incident in Arkham Asylum by Commissioner Gordon, where they discover that Joker has used the mutagen to transform all of the inmates and himself into mutant animals. The heroes face off against the mutated rogues gallery, and Joker injects Batman with the mutagen and venom combination to turn him into an unhinged mutant bat. After defeating Joker, the heroes use Batgirl and Donatello’s retro-mutagen to cure Batman and the inmates, but realize that it was all a distraction for Shredder and Ra’s al Ghul to acquire the Wayne Enterprises cloud seeder from Penguin.Troy Baker and Andrew Kishino in Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019)As Batman recovers in the Batcave, the two teams find out that their villains are launching their machine at the Ace Chemicals plant. Batman initially orders the Turtles to leave Gotham due to their impulsiveness, but Raphael convinces him that they are better off working together to learn from their mistakes. As the two groups advance towards Ace Chemicals, they defeat most of the Foot Clan and League of Assassins forces before confronting Shredder and Ra’s al Ghul. Leonardo defeats Ra’s, Batman and Raphael take down Shredder, and Donatello and Michelangelo destroy the machine before it activates. The debris from the ensuing explosion knocks Shredder into a vat of chemicals and detonates the plant. Before the Turtles depart Gotham, Batman treats the heroes to pizza.Eric Bauza and Troy Baker in Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019)In a post-credits scene, Shredder is revealed to have survived the explosion, as he now strongly resembles the Joker and starts to laugh maniacallyEric Bauza, Troy Baker, Darren Criss, Baron Vaughn, and Kyle Mooney in Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019)Absolutely Loved it. Dc has done everything right this year. Doom Patrol, Titans and now this. Everything is on the right track.

REVIEW: THE BATMAN VS DRACULA

The Batman vs. Dracula (2005)

CAST (VOICES)

Rino Romano (Get Him To The Greek)
Alastair Duncan (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Peter Stormare (22 Jump Street)
Tom Kenny (The Powerpuff Girls)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Tara Strong (Batman: TAS)

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The Batman vs. Dracula opens inside Arkham Asylum, where a heist is being planned. A mass breakout finds the Joker and the Penguin pitted against each other in search of the loot, which is located in a graveyard. The Batman (voiced by Rino Romano) steps in and heads off the Joker while the Penguin proceeds to break into a crypt and inadvertently awaken Dracula (a perfectly-cast Peter Stormare), who has been “dead” for centuries and somehow vaguely transported to Gotham City. The count begins assembling his army of the undead, and soon the battle is on to decide who will be the last man-bat standing.hello-kitty-vibrator-2396fg2The combination of the Batman mythos with the Dracula legend blends ideally at times. A dream sequence that casts the Batman and Dracula as one and the same is visually arresting and thematically compelling. More importantly, temptations to evil and questions of crime-fighting ethics are a major part of what makes Batman an interesting character. It’s nice when those aspects of Bruce Wayne/Batman are handled honestly, instead of glossing them over.Bat-fans will enjoy both of these features. Although each has a distinct style and different creative teams, they both hew to the basics of the Batman story and the world of Gotham City. There is nothing particularly exceptional here, other than good entertainment and, especially in The Batman vs. Dracula, some wonderful visuals.

 

REVIEW: THE ZETA PROJECT

MAIN CAST
Diedrich Bader (Batman: TBATB)
Julie Nathanson (Sofia The First)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST~
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Ethan Embry (Eagle Eye)
Tara Strong (Batman: TAS)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Eli Marienthal (American Pie)
Stacy Keach (The Bourne Legacy)
Conchata Ferrell (Two and a Half Men)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Tom Kenney (Super Hero Squad)
Chad Lowe (Floating)
Keith Szarabajka (Angel)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Dave Coulier (Full House)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Kate Jackson (Charlie’s Angel)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Robert Costanzo (Batman: TAS)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Steven Weber (13 Reasons Why)
Joey Lawrence (Melissa & Joey)
Chris Demetral (Lois & Clark)
Lukas Haas (Inception)
Mae Whitman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012)
Michael McKean (This is Spinal Tap)
Wil Wheaton (The Big Bang Theory)
zeta-b
In this Batman Beyond spinoff, Zeta, an assassination & infiltrator robot, rebels against its programming. The authorities think it has been reprogrammed by their enemies, and tries to bring Zeta in for reprogramming. Zeta goes on the run, trying to find his creators and assisted by an orphan girl, Ro.
zetaproject1
As a spin off for a character introduced in Batman Beyond, this cartoon series went beyond the scope of adventure. Zeta was an experimental infiltration robot equipped with weaponry and a holographic self-projector that allows it to assume any identity. However, negating his own programming, he refused to kill. He fled his employers merely attempting to find his creator to prove that he is acting on his own free will. The government doesn’t know that, and hunt him down as they think he is rogue. Along the way Zeta hooks up with Ro, a teenage girl, and they assist each other in their treks.
165770_fullDiedrich Bader (The Drew Carey Show) lends his voice to the peaceful, naive and near-human robot, sounding the least bit threatening and true to Zeta’s nature. The friendship between the child-like Zeta and Ro is genuinely portrayed. The supporting characters who chase him are great, including the government agents, and a young genius whom at one point reprogrammed Zeta. The Zeta Project is indeed a combination of Short Circuit and The Fugitive, balanced out by fantastic action, excellent characterization, and plenty of comedic moments.  In one episode, Batman Beyond even makes a cool guest appearance. Sadly, KidsWB canceled this exceptional show after 2 seasons, leaving Ro and Zeta’s quest hanging.

REVIEW: BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER

 

CAST (VOICES)

Will Friedle (Boy Meets World)

Kevin Conroy (Batman:
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Angie Harmon (Agent Cody Banks)
Teri Garr (Young Frankenstein)
Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Tara Strong (Comic Book: The Movie)
Matthew Valencia (Lawnmower Man 2)

Melissa Joan Hart (Melissa & Joey)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Henry Rollins (Wrong Turn 2)
Rachael Leigh Cook (Antitrust)
Ryan O’Donohue (The Iron Giant)
Vernee Watson (The Big Bang theory)

It’s a shame that Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker did not have the opportunity to grace the silver screen. Though the film was originally conceived as a direct-to-video effort, Bruce Timm reported in San Diego during the summer of ’99 that Warner was flirting with the idea of a theatrical release. Was not to be, though, and as the Halloween 2000 release date of the video and DVD drew closer, the entertainment industry was under the watchful eye of the government, fending off accusations that it was delivering adult content to children. A nearly two month delay for the dark, violent Return of the Joker was announced shortly thereafter, and fans were aghast at the timing. Rumors began to circulate that Warner was unhappy with the content of the movie in this hostile political climate and sought to water it down considerably. Writer Paul Dini confirmed in an interview with Ain’t It Cool News that edits were in the wings, and though he was positive about the changes spearheaded by partner Bruce Timm, it did apparently lead to a rift in the seemingly insurmountable team.

 

To get an idea of how drastically certain portions were changed, World’s Finest has a assembled a detailed list of edits, though bear in mind that there are substantial spoilers. Sales of the edited disc were lackluster, due in large part to a lack of any real promotional effort by Warner Bros. Though the quality of the butchered product was still exceedingly high, it seemed as if the untainted version would never see the light of day. Slowly, positive news began to trickle from Tinseltown. Paul Dini, at the Wizard World Convention last summer, stated that he was certain that an unedited release would be forthcoming. This was confirmed by Warner two months later in a chat on the Home Theater Forum. Now, just over three years after Paul Dini first put pen to paper for his initial draft of the Return of the Joker screenplay, Warner has finally given the movie the release it deserved from the very beginning.


Batman Beyond, for those unfamiliar, takes place some fifty years after the previous animated series. Bruce Wayne had long since shelved the cape and cowl, and Gotham City went two full decades without a protector. Derek Powers, who picked up the reins at Waynecorp, was using Wayne’s company to traffic weapons, including some of the thoroughly nasty biological variety. The father of troubled teen Terry McGinnis stumbled upon this secret and paid for this knowledge with his life. Terry, after a chance encounter, deduced Wayne’s secret identity and lifted a Batman suit, setting out to punish those responsible for his father’s murder. Despite some early friction between Bruce and Terry, the mantle was passed, and Terry took over as Gotham’s champion.


The Clown Prince of Crime has been painted in the animated series as more of an entertaining nuisance than a psychotic murderer, a far cry from how the character has appeared in comics for the past couple of decades. Return of the Joker shows the title character for what he truly is: a genuinely deranged, insane soul. Bruce has made a conscious effort to avoid telling Terry about his greatest foe, though such facts cannot remain buried forever. A gang of thugs inspired by the Joker has been ripping off bleeding-edge tech, which isn’t exactly their style. While Terry tries to determine who it is they’re fencing for, Bruce regains control of his corporation after a prolonged battle, much to the chagrin of the worm who was next in line. At a celebration to commemorate his return, the gang strikes again. This time, they are led by an individual who looks and sounds exactly like the Joker, unmarred by the ravages of time. Terry is assured that the genuine article is dead, though Bruce and Commissioner Gordon are both reluctant to provide a detailed explanation. Whatever may have happened decades ago was obviously traumatizing for the elder Wayne, who is concerned enough to request that Terry step down as Batman. Though the Joker is six feet under the festering remains of Arkham Asylum, whoever’s stepping into the role is well-aware of the secret identity of both Batmans, seizing the opportunity to rid himself of the Caped Crusaders once and for all. Long-buried secrets are unearthed, and not everyone will walk away from the final battle unscathed.

I cannot heap enough praise upon Return of the Joker. The animation is theatrical quality, sharper and more fluid than any of the previous animated tales or the best of the television series. The roster of voice actors put in excellent performances, particularly Mark Hamill as the Joker and the always-reliable Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne and the original Batman. Return of the Joker also doesn’t pull any punches…literally. Though it’s not really any more violent than what can be found on the printed page, this is undoubtedly the most extreme representation of the Caped Crusader to date, live-action or animated. It’s kept in character, though. Bruce Wayne has said time and again in the animated series that Batman does not kill, but in the film’s central flashback, he lobs a knife at the Joker with fatal force. It may have missed, but it’s difficult to fully describe the sensation of seeing Batman pushed that far. The intensity of the flashback to the torture inflicted by the Joker rivals most any live-action film I can recall offhand.

This DVD-only release of the unedited Return of the Joker includes the supplemental material from the previous release, as well as its original commentary track and intended aspect ratio. Devoted fans of the Batman Beyond series ought to find a purchase to be a no-brainer, and even those who didn’t much care for the concept of the series may very well feel differently about Return of the Joker.