This film is a masterpiece, a real work of animated art The story of new Batman Terry McGinnis (Will Friedle) continues in this non-stop, dark, and super intense adventure when the legendary Joker (Mark Hamill), thought to be dead, makes a shocking return to unleash his brand of chaos onto the people of Gotham. The newest Dark Knight needs answers as to who is behind the return of the infamous Clown Prince of crime as he face his deadliest foe yet.
Animation legend Bruce Timm is back in the producer's chair for this film, spun off from the popular TV show, as well as writing the story alongside Glen Murikami and genius writer Paul Dini who also penned the screenplay. Dini is like Picasso with this piece, effortlessly and masterfully turning out some really incredible and heartfelt lines of dialog within a brilliant story.
Curt Geda also did an amazing job directing the movie. The animation and art work is once again in Bruce Timm's trademark art style and design seen in all of the animated movies and shows seen before and even a bit after this show that he produced. These animated movies and shows produced by these guys always impress with the well planned out, and brilliantly set up and staged action scenes. From the big massive confrontations between Batman and the Joker, to just a small brawl in a nightclub, the fight scenes all feel important and engaging, while having a proper place and time in the story to occur.
This movie is without a doubt one of the best and darkest Batman stories I've ever seen. There's a big flashback scene in the middle of the film that goes back to the characters and animation style seen in the fourth season of Batman: The Animated Series, at the time re-dubbed The New Batman Adventures. This is the heaviest, most intense sequence of the film. It shows the final confrontation between former Batman Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) and the Joker ever had. It reveals some pretty big secrets and plot points as you see what the Joker did to Tim Drake, current robin at the time, that devastated and tainted the Bat-family forever. It's the worst possible thing that the Joker could have ever done to Batman mentally, emotionally, and really just overall, It's pretty dark and twisted.
The performance Mark Hamill gives as the Joker this time around, combined with his Frankenstein Monster meets Hannibal Lector appearance, makes for arguably the darkest and one of the scariest versions of the Joker ever conceived. He is straight up scary in scenes of this movie, while at the same time still managing to be the same Joker we all know and love. Hamill really did an amazing job with his performance in this movie, as did the entire voice cast directed by legendary voice casting and director Andrea Romano.
Especially Will Friedle, his character really shines in this piece. He goes through a bit of an arch himself. Going back to the great dialog, Terry has this great line where he's trying to convince Bruce that what happened to his past partners won't happen to him when he says, "I'm a completely different Batman, I was never a robin." When he does have his last confrontation with the Joker, Bruce warns him that the Joker likes to talk and distract him, get into his head and to just block it out and fight harder like Bruce would do. Instead Terry proves what he said before that he is a different Batman. Instead of just blocking it out, he turns the Joker's tricks back against him and starts mocking and teasing the Joker himself. Getting into his enemies head and distracting him, giving terry the upper hand in the fight. It's brilliant writing like that that makes this movie so great.
While the explanation for how the Joker is back does seem a bit convoluted and goofy, the world is set up so well and the way they fit it into how the character himself was in the Batman cartoon, how he's crazy and out of his mind but at the same time, in his own way, a bit of a genius ahead of his time, and even throwing in a clever connection to Tim Drake, they actually manage to make it work and not be a problem or a big plot hole.
While I can see people that aren't into the superhero genre not liking this, those that do enjoy it, especially Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond, it is most definitely worth watching.
Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker, even with it's goofy but still clever plot twist at the end, gets a high 5/5 from me.