|Batman Beyond: The Movie
|Warner Home Video
||Will Friedle, Kevin Conroy, Linda Hamilton, William H. Macy
‘Batman Beyond: The Movie’ is a surprisingly class act in every way but
one. While it’s aimed at teens and youngsters, it has an intelligent
script, moderately dimensional characters, a distinguished vocal cast
and a sound mix with music and effects that is better than a lot of the
live action out there. Furthermore, this DVD provides a lot of bang for
your buck, with not only the title item but four TV episodes - ‘Gotham
Golem,’ ‘Winning Edge,’ ‘Dead Man’s Hand’ and ‘Meltdown’ - included in
the package. Adding courtesy to generosity, each of the episodes is
broken into eight chapters (the movie has eighteen chapters), making
for some of the easiest scene access ever on a DVD release of episodic
What, then, is the caveat? Unfortunately, ‘Batman Beyond’ and the
accompanying episodes are done in what’s known as "limited animation,"
the technique favored by TV cartoons. This means that details are
sparing, facial expressions are exaggerated and sometimes static and
movements are rendered broadly. Of course, ‘Batman’ is a TV cartoon and
by limited animation standards, it’s rendered well, with some pretty
cool visual notions. It’s fun, for instance, to see how Bruce Wayne’s
big black menacing dog echoes the look of the big black menacing
Batsuit which, in this rendition of the legend originally created by
Bob Kane, is the repository of Bat power.
It’s wise to watch ‘Batman Beyond’ first, as it sets up the mythology
of the series (there’s a rough order to the rest of the episodes, but
it’s not as crucial). As ‘Beyond’ begins, Batman, a.k.a. billionaire
Bruce Wayne, gets badly beaten by an evildoer. He hangs up his Batsuit
for 20 years. Along comes teenager Terry McGinnis, whose own father is
murdered by Wayne’s archrival Derek Powers. McGinnis discovers Wayne’s
secret past and the abilities of the Batsuit. Although Wayne objects at
first, it’s not long before Terry is in the game. Terry fights crime in
the Batsuit, while Wayne provides him with strategies via an earlink in
The opening titles vacillate between being inspired and ridiculous.
There’s great dramatic use of gothic-font words hammering home what
‘Batman’ is all about - which is severely undermined by images of
Batman swinging his arms so hard as he runs that he appears about to
capsize and (Lord save us) teens boogying at a disco. We probably
wouldn’t want to see this last even if it was live-action; in limited
animation, the sight is supremely silly-looking.
However, ‘Batman’ still has some fairly resonant comic book imagery.
The iconographic shots of a looming Batman - whether it’s Wayne or
Terry inside the suit - are effective and the real face of the
villainous Powers (who crops up again in ‘Meltdown’) is satisfyingly
creepy, given the target audience. A point-of-view sequence in Chapter
3 of ‘Dead Man’s Hand,’ as characters fly up a winding staircase,
actually provides a good sense of dimension and depth.
There are also some smart bits of animation shorthand that work
beautifully in a way that would be overkill in live action. When
pitiably badgered teen Willy Watt (voiced by Seth Green, who plays
Scott Evil in the ‘Austin Powers’ movies) finally snaps and decides to
use his intellect in harmful ways, his eyes vanish behind his glasses,
leaving just opaque white lenses. Having an entire gang of
garishly-made up Jokers menacing Gotham City throughout is a clever
move, finding a way to preserve a touchstone of the ‘Batman’ mythos
while giving it a new twist.
Some noteworthy sound effects can be found in Chapter 9 of ‘Batman
Beyond,’ as guns fire and metal crashes. Chapter 2 of ‘Golem’ has lots
of sonic nuance as well as sheer blasting power as a giant robot mashes
a sports car. The voice casting is strong as well. Will Friedle is
rebellious yet thoughtful as Terry and Kevin Conroy’s gravelly tones
make Wayne even in his senior years a man to be reckoned with. Guest
voices in a truly impressive lineup include Stockard Channing, Amanda
Donohoe, Terry Garr, Michael Gross, Linda Hamilton, George Lazenby,
Laura San Giacomo, ‘Star Trek’s’ George Takei and Oscar winner William
‘Batman Beyond’ is not something to watch for state-of-the-art
animation. However, if comic book hero material appeals to you, it
enjoys professional treatment here.
|English Dolby Stereo; French Dolby Stereo
|1:3:3 (original aspect ratio)
Animated ‘Batman’ TV Episodes - ‘Gotham Golem,’ ‘The Winning Edge,’
‘Dead Man’s Hand’ and ‘Meltdown’; Theatrical Trailer; English
Closed-Captioning; French Subtitles; Chapter Search
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||32-Inch Sony Trinitron