First of all, BATMAN BEYOND: THE MOVIE
isn’t really a movie. It is actually the first two episodes of the television show edited together. However, it was released as a “Batman movie,” so we’ll add it to our collection of "Bat-films" and review it that way.
In the near future, Bruce Wayne (probably in his 50s) is still fighting crime as The Batman -- although he’s wearing a new red and black suit with all sorts of high tech modifications (Such as rockets on the boots that allow him to fly). Anyway, while on a mission, he has a heart episode that leaves him virtually incapacitated. To save his own life, he picks up a nearby gun and considers using it on the thug attacking him with a crowbar. Bruce gets out of the jam, but retires as The Batman. “Never again” he says, as he turns out the Batcave lights.
Flash forward 20 years. Gotham City has become a BLADE RUNNER'ish futuristic city with flying vehicles and such. Bruce Wayne has lost majority control of Wayne Enterprises to Derek Powers -- a man more interested in money and power than continuing the good works of the Wayne family business. Bruce is now elderly recluse holed up in Wayne Manor and is rarely, if ever, seen in public.
Enter one Terry McGinnis, angry high school punk extraordinaire -- a punk with a good heart nonetheless. His parents are split and Terry lives with his father -- a Wayne Enterprises employee. The elder McGinnis soon discovers that Powers is developing very dangerous chemical weapons and plans to sell them to the highest bidder. Powers learns of McGinnis’ discovery, and has him taken out. However, a local gang called “The Jokerz” (Yes, they are named after you know who) seems to have done the deed during a robbery attempt.
To make a long story short (and in no particular order) Terry soon learns of his father’s discovery and figures out who was behind it. He’s chased by the Jokerz and ends up at the gates of Wayne Manor, where the old Bruce helps Terry kick the living crap out of the gang. “Hey man! We’re The Jokerz,” one of the gang members barks at Bruce. “Sure you are,” he replies.”
The arse-whipping that Bruce laid on The Jokerz has one drawback -- it brings on another “heart episode” which leaves Bruce requiring his medication at once. Terry helps him back to Wayne Manor, where Bruce gets his medication and proceeds to fall asleep almost immediately.
With Wayne now sawing logs, Terry does a bit of snooping around and finds a bat caught in a grandfather clock. As Terry is working to free the animal, the “clock” swings open revealing a staircase that leads to you-know-where.
Of course, Terry finds The Batcave and...
What does Bruce do once he learns Terry has taken the suit? Does Bruce help Terry avenge his fathers death? What about the dastardly deeds done by Derek Powers in the name of Wayne Enterprises? Will there be a new Batman in Gotham? And if so, what Bat-role will Bruce Wayne fill? After all, someone else may be in the suit, but Bruce Wayne is The Batman.
As I said in my RETURN OF THE JOKER review, I like BATMAN BEYOND. The only thing I never did really like was the suit's cowl and the red trim. How in the heck does the cowl cover his entire face "Spider-Man" style, yet we still see his mouth? Just how would that work? And I'd rather a dark grey bat-logo and cape/wings myself. But I digress.
Anyway, I enjoyed this “movie.” The animation is not nearly as good as the animated Bat-flicks that were intended to be feature-length films, but it’s not horrible. If you’ve seen any episode of the various “Animated DC Universe” series, you know what to expect.
Again, Kevin Conroy’s voice work as Bruce Wayne is terrific. This was Will Freidel’s first outing as “Batman,” and he does a fairly good job. Although his “I’m Batman” certainly isn’t up to par with the likes of Conroy, Michael Keaton, and Christian Bale.
I’m going to give BATMAN BEYOND a B- as a "movie" -- although I’d probably give it a B+ if reviewing it as a TV episode.