From the beginning, I was a fan of BATMAN BEYOND. While this new incarnation of the Batman franchise lacked the dark, brooding, noir atmosphere of its forerunner, BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, I really liked the action packed storylines and the futuristic setting of the show. In this high tech version of Gotham City, not only has The Batman become more high tech- so have the adversaries that he faces…
Set twenty years after age and failing health cause Bruce Wayne to hang up his cape and cowl, BATMAN BEYOND introduces us to a cocky teenage character named Terry McGinnis, who becomes the Wayne’s protégé after similar tragic personal circumstances make him the ideal Dark Knight for a new generation. From the Bat Cave, Wayne keeps a watchful eye on the new Batman, guiding him on his nightly prowl through the mean streets of this modernized Gotham City. BATMAN BEYOND features the vocal talents of Will Friedle, Kevin Conroy, Stockard Channing, Teri Garr and Lauren Tom.
BATMAN BEYOND: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON ($27) comes to DVD in a two-disc set that features the following thirteen episodes: Rebirth Part 1, Rebirth Part 2, Black Out, Golem, Meltdown, Heroes, Shriek, Dead Man's Hand, The Winning Edge, Spellbound, Disappearing Inque, A Touch Of Curaré and Ascension.
Warner Home Video has made BATMAN BEYOND: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON available on DVD in a full screen format that is representative of the original television broadcasts. The episodes do look better on DVD than they did on broadcast, but they are not perfect. BATMAN BEYOND was produced on film and the elements do display grain, dust, blemishes and other minor irregularities that are associated with this form of 2D cell animation. Other than that, the image is as crisp and detailed as this type animation is likely to get. Colors are strongly rendered and are generally stable, even in the most intense hot hues. Blacks are deep and inky, while the whites are stable and contrast is very good for an animated program at the television level. Digital compression artifacts are generally well concealed.
All of the episodes that comprise BATMAN BEYOND: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON come with their soundtracks presented in 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo, which does decode to standard surround in a fairly effective fashion. As expected, the sound mixes for television production are very much front-loaded. There are some left right channel separations across the forward soundstage, but the sound mixes are constrained by the necessities of the broadcast format. Surround usage is limited to slight ambient and musical fill and an occasional active effect. Dialogue is crisply rendered and remains totally understandable. No alternate language tracks have been included on the DVD, although English, French and Spanish subtitles have been provided.
Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as a few nice extras. Running audio commentaries are offered on Rebirth Part 1 and Shriek, participants include Producers Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Glenn Murakami, Writer Stan Berkowitz and Director Curt Geda. Inside Batman Beyond offers a panel discussion with the series creative team, who explore the development of series concept. Music Of The Knight includes an introduction Bruce Timm, who is a big fan of the series musical scores, and this feature offers fans the opportunity to listen to isolated music on key dramatic scenes from the series.
As I stated above, I am a big fan of BATMAN BEYOND; the series offers an intriguing and logical evolution of the Batman character for a new generation. Warner’s DVD release provides solid presentations for the episodes, which outclass broadcast. If you are a fan like me, BATMAN BEYOND: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON is a must have. Recommended.
reviews are Copyright © 2006 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied
or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.