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BATMAN BEYOND: THE COMPLETE SERIES (LIMITED EDITION)

 



Batman Beyond: The Complete Series (Limited Edition)
 

Actors: Will Friedle, Kevin Conroy, Stockard Channing, Mari Devon, Sherman Howard
Directors: Butch Lukic, Curt Geda, Dan Riba, James Tucker, Kyungwon Lim
Writers: Alan Burnett, Bob Goodman
Format: AC-3, Animated, Box set, Color, Dolby, DVD, Full Screen, Limited Edition, NTSC
Language: English
Region: 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Number of discs: 8
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: November 23, 2010
Run Time: 1097 minutes


Special Features:

  • All 52 episodes
  • Creator commentaries
  • Season retrospectives
  • Bonus disc with 95 minutes of new special features: Secret Origin The Story of DC Comics documentary and three all-new featurettes
  • Booklet featuring artwork from the DC archives
     

Movie:
Discs:
 

For most comic book fans, Batman Beyond represented irrefutable proof that Paul Dini and his team walked on water. They took a concept that smacked of homogenized corporate-think (Batman! In the future! And he’s a teenager!), and turned it into a wonderful addition to the Batman universe. As with their other animated series, they did it by thoroughly understanding the characters, then filtering them through their own creative sensibilities.

It starts with the new Batman: Terry McGinnis (voiced by Will Friedle), a high school student living in Gotham City at some unspecified point in the near future. The city has advanced with the times—flying cars and impossibly high skyscrapers mark the landscape—but crime is still crime, and the good people haven’t had a champion since the original Batman vanished years before. McGinnis eventually stumbles on a crumbling estate inhabited by an ancient, embittered Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) and still sporting a number of very cool goodies in the basement. Wayne initially wants nothing to do with the outside world, but when McGinnis’s father is murdered, the young man borrows some of the choicest gadgets in an effort to find the killer. An unlikely partnership follows and Gotham’s long-dormant protector is reborn.

Dini and crew set up the series perfectly, bridging the action between the original Batman: The Animated Series before diving headlong into this new world. Wayne’s presence gave it the seal of approval, but McGinnis quickly blossomed into his own character: not quite Dick Grayson’s Robin, but with the same fun-loving twinkle in his eye. The series provided plenty of cool villains to tackle—from the shapeshifting Inque to the radioactive Blight—and the producers wisely kept the appearance of Batman’s old rogues gallery to a minimum. Mr. Freeze pops up once or twice and the return of Ra’s al Ghul marks a series highlight, but largely, McGinnis faces off against his own baddies instead of mopping up Bruce’s leftovers. (There is a street gang named The Jokerz, however, and a direct-to-video movie—sadly absent from the set—covers the Clown Prince of Crime’s return to future Gotham.)

In the process, Batman Beyond retains the energy of the original series without depending on it. It transcends its gimmicky origin and provides a fitting sense of closure to the Batman mythos; gentler than, say The Dark Knight Returns, but no less respectful. The visual palate remains eye popping without being garish, and the copious action scenes are exciting without becoming too over-the-top. Voice acting, as usual with the Dini-verse, is top-notch. Friedle plays McGinnis as insouciant and cocksure while still holding a moral core, and Conroy… well, for all the stiff competition from Christian Bale and others, Conroy remains the definitive voice of the Dark Knight. Dini and company created a one-of-a-kind show from the most unlikely sources here, and in the process made the DC universe a great deal richer.

THE DISC: There’s a bit of a bait and switch going on with this new edition. The giant boxed set gives way to a single clamshell case containing nine discs and a large 24-page art book. Eight of the discs are exactly, precisely the same as previous editions of Batman Beyond: containing all 52 episodes of the series spread across three seasons. The ninth disc holds three (very brief) new featurettes and a full-length documentary, The Story of DC Comics, which is also being marketed separately. It’s a fairly complete set, though again, including The Return of the Joker movie would have made a nice final touch.

WORTH IT? The set costs about the same as purchasing the three individual seasons in their separate formats. You get the box, the art book and the ninth disc for no extra cost, which easily makes it the better option. Even so, the set smacks of double-dipping, since those most interested in it likely already own earlier editions of Batman Beyond.

RECOMMENDATION: If you don’t already own the show and want it, this makes for some nice one-stop shopping. If you have previous copies, you’re not getting enough to justify the cost. Pick up the DC Comics documentary separately and save yourself some cash.
 

- Rob Vaux


 



 

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