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Releases - DVD - Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Uncut)


Release Information:
Studio: Warner Studios
Original Release Date: April 23rd, 2002
Run Time: 77 minutes
Production Company: Warner Studios
Package Type: Snap Case (Discontinued); Amaray
English, French

Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1

Note: The Aspect Ratio is actually a form of widescreen--the video is matted at the top of the bottom to give the illusion of widescreen format.

Sound Quality:
English (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround)
Commentary (Stereo)

Special Features
-Commentary by the Filmmakers
-Behind-the-Scenes Documentary
-Deleted Scenes
-Animation Tests
-Music Video Crash by Mephisto Odyssey feat. Static X
-Animated Character Bios
-Interactive Menus
-Production Notes
-Scene Access
-Subtitles: English & Francais

After relentless demand from fans, Warner Home Video has finally released the unedited version of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker and is considered second only to Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, this story starring the futuristic Dark Knight faces off against the Clown Prince of Crime in this revealing, harrowing story.

While the story can be found elsewhere on this site, I'll provide a quick backdrop on how this release came to be. The first release of this film, developed while in production on the animated series, was released in 2000. Unfortunately, Warner executives felt the content and tone was too dark and extreme for their target audience. As a result, filmmakers Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Alan Burnett, Curt Geda, and Glen Murakami were forced to extract almost five minutes of footage from the print, to lessen the impact. The flashback sequence was toned down, and fight sequences and dialogue were either trimmed or cut out completely. The content was essentially still the same, but the execution was considerably dulled.

A copy of the unedited version was leaked weeks before the edited hit shelves and the backlash was unbelievable. The story, broken by myself, caused a massive letter and petition campaign, eventually resulting in the release of this edition of the movie. The comparison between the cut and uncut version of this movie can be viewed here.

Now what about the actual movie? Amazing. The voice acting is top notch, the animation is beautiful, and the story is amazing. To say anymore would really ruin the entire experience, but this is a must-see movie on a must-see DVD.

And the audio and video transfer? The Dolby 5.1 Surround makes the action and excellent score sound all the more vivid and intense. The video is a mixed back. While the Cut release featured flawless video, this release suffers from a massive amount of interlacing, visible on a PC monitor or hi-def TV set. Definitely a disappointment.

Despite the packaging claim of being Full Frame, the film is actually shown in 1.78:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. The widescreen really adds to the tone of the film, making it seem more epic than those overblown live action installments. The colors jump against the dark, fully digitally painted backgrounds, and the detail is brilliant.

The extras for this DVD set is actually pretty impressive for Warner Home Video. Usually we're saddled with terrible "games," brainless extras, and horrible production values. But here? We have a solid release, probably the best Animated DC DVD release outside of the box sets. The extras include Commentary by Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Curt Geda, and Glen Murakami, Animatics, a Making Of Featurette, Character Bios, Deleted Scenes (In Animatic Form), Bat Trivia, the Mephisto Odyssey Featuring Static X "Crash" music video, and some trailers.

The highlight of the release is the commentary. This is a commentary I have actually listened to on many occasions, multiple times. The four participants keep it going with Bruce Timm leading the charge. There are a few brief moments of silence, but the wealth of candid conversation and information is just mind blowing. It's probably one of the best commentary tracks I've ever heard and has definite reply value. Fans will truly enjoy it.

The other extras, while pretty standard, are excellent for this release. The deleted scenes, including the infamous 'Arkham Asylum" scene, are in animatic form with voice performances. They're pretty interesting, though it's understood why they were cut. The rest of the extras are pretty entertaining and provide a nice look into the process into making and promoting this feature.

Just a note, the commentary featured on this release is different than the commentary featured on the edited release.

Overall, I highly recommend this film. This movie ties Batman: Mask of the Phantasm as the best interpretation of the iconic hero. While this unedited version can be pretty intense, it really should be enjoyed by all Bat-fans of all ages. However, parents might want to check it out before their let their kids do just in case. Very few American animated series have achieved the quality and excitement Warner Brothers has created with the Batman franchise, and this is just another example of how excellent this animated franchise has become.

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