BATMAN BEYOND: SEASON TWO
Since the advent of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, I have been a huge fan of the series that have been produced by Warner Bros television animation under the stewardship of producer Bruce Timm. BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES is acknowledged as one of the most ground breaking animated TV series ever, because it was intelligently written, respectful of the superhero characters themselves and pretty darn faithful their established mythologies. The Batman mythology was eventually taken into an uncharted region, when the series BATMAN BEYOND was developed as a follow up BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. While BATMAN BEYOND was designed to break new creative ground, the series biggest appeal rests in how this new incarnation of the Batman legacy remains thoroughly steeped in the original mythology, while spreading its creative wings and taking flight into its new territory.
Set twenty years after age and failing health cause Bruce Wayne to hang up his cape and cowl for good, 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, Cree Summer and Lauren Tom.
BATMAN BEYOND: SEASON TWO ($45) comes to DVD in a four-disc set that features the following twenty-six episodes: Splicers, Earth Mover, Joyride, Lost Soul, Hidden Agenda, Bloodsport, Once Burned, Hooked Up, Rats!, Mind Games, Revenant, Babel, Terry's Friend Dates a Robot, Eyewitness, Final Cut, The Last Resort, Armory, Sneak Peek, The Eggbaby, Zeta, Plague, April Moon, Sentries of the Last Cosmos, Payback, Where's Terry? and Ace in the Hole.
Warner Home Video has made BATMAN BEYOND: SEASON TWO available on DVD in a full screen format that is representative of the original television broadcasts. The episodes look quite good on DVD, besting broadcast by a comfortable margin. Of course, this is still television caliber animation, so one isn’t likely to be blown away by the presentation. Colors are strongly rendered and are free from flaws. Blacks are deep, whites are crisp and the level of contrast is about all that one can expect from this type of production. BATMAN BEYOND is amongst the last shows to be produced on film, so there are the expected imperfections in the elements, including dust, blemishes and other minor irregularities that are associated with this form of 2D cell animation. A bit of film grain is also noticeable in places. Digital compression artifacts are always nicely contained.
All of the episodes that comprise BATMAN BEYOND: SEASON TWO come with their soundtracks presented in 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo, which decodes to standard surround reasonably well. This being a television production, the sound mixes significantly favor the forward soundstage. There are some left right channel separations across the front channels, but the sound mixes are constrained by the necessities of being created specifically for television broadcast. Surround usage is quite limited, consisting of mild ambience, musical fill and an occasional active effect. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and is easy to understand. No alternate language tracks have been included on the DVD, although French and Spanish subtitles have been provided.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as a couple of nice extra features. Running audio commentaries are offered on Splicers and The Eggbaby with Producers Bruce Timm, Glenn Murakami, Voice Director Andrea Romano, Storyboard Artist James Tucker and Actor Will Friedle. Inside Batman Beyond: The Panel is an eleven-minute discussion program featuring Producers Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Glenn Murakami and Moderator Jason Hillhouse, who examine season two of BATMAN BEYOND.
As a big fan of Warner Bros. superhero animation, I am delighted that a second season set of BATMAN BEYOND has been released on DVD. Warner continues to deliver the goods in terms of offering the episodes in presentations that easily best the broadcast format. If you are like me, and are a fan of BATMAN BEYOND or any of Warner Bros. other animated superhero series, then you’ll want to add this collection to your personal library. BATMAN BEYOND: SEASON TWO comes highly recommended.
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