Saturday, January 29, 2011

Return of the Joker Coming to Blu-ray

The first Batman: the Animated Series feature film to come to Blu-ray is the one that deserves it the most. Arguably the best of the four features based on the Timm-verse, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker tells the story of when Bruce Wayne's deadliest adversary comes back to haunt him. And how will the new Batman, Terry McGuiness, deal with the Clown Prince of Crime? The Blu-ray will be released on April 5.

When this direct-to-DVD movie was first released in 2000 there were two versions. The PG, 76-minute, full screen version, and the "original, uncut" PG-13, 77-minute, widescreen version.

The most noticeable difference in uncut version is the flashback scene in which the Joker and Batman engage in a much more violent and brutal fight. The edited version censors the blood and rewrites the Joker's death scene to something less dramatic. I'm sure all you fans will agree that the uncut version is much better.

However, the film was originally animated in full frame, 1.33:1 as it appears in the edited release. But the uncut version has been letterboxed to make a faux widescreen format. See the side-by-side comparison below to see how much picture you loose in the edited version:

So which version will be on the Blu-ray? Well, it is rated PG-13, so maybe it is the edited version. But the runtime, according to the back of the box, 76 minutes and a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, just like the censored version. So which version is it? I don't know.

I'm not sure why both versions can't be on the disc. After all, it is Blu-ray we're talking about. There is plenty of room for both plus all the bonus features (which are all carried over from the DVD releases).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Gotham High

For every one animated series that airs, there are dozens that never make it past the development stage. Illustrator Jeffery Thomas and writer Celeste Green share on their blog about one of these cancelled projects: GOTHAM HIGH!

We all go through incredible changes as teenagers: growth spurts, bad skin, a sudden insatiable need to uphold justice and avenge your murdered parents.... Well, that is if you're Bruce Wayne.

As if being a freshman at Gotham High wasn't tough enough, Bruce's insomnia and technological fascinations are taking their toll. Instead of spending his time studying, he has begun to obsess over an emerging personality trait: Batman. But under the watchful eye of his guardian and steward, Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce is forced to put his intelligence to good use: graduating high school. But given his classmates, can Bruce survive Gotham High?

Jeffery Thomas tells us that DC approached him to develop the series based on a picture he submitted. Sadly, the project never went anywhere. We have heard the announcement that there is a new Batman series coming in the next couple of years, but it will be a CG version of the Dark Knight that will be familiar to people who have only seen the new movies. I guess WB doesn't want to have two Batman show running at the same time, no matter how different they are.

Personally, I would have loved to see this series, especially based on the excellent artwork! I'm always a fan of alternate realities, and one in which Batman and his rogues gallery are in high school together sound like it has loads of potential. (X-Men: Evolution, anyone?) Check out more images here!