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Old 01-22-2006, 05:24 AM   #46
Drunken Savior
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Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)


Released 2000
Rated: PG-13
Staring: Will Friedle, Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Angie Harmon, Dean Stockwell, and Arleen Sorkin.
Written by: Paul Dini, Glen Murakami, and Bruce W. Timm
Directed by: Curt Geda


Acting: A
Cinematography: B-
Story: A
Sound: C+

2000. A weird time for Batman fans. The animated shows were coming to an end, and soon Batman fans would have to turn to Justice League to get their Batman kicks. However the animated series gave us one last hurah in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. For the benefit of those who have not seen this film, I will be reviewing the UNCUT version of this film and this review will not feature spoilers. At the end of the review, there will be a brief bit on the differences between the CUT and the UNCUT versions, and it will feature spoilers to the plot.


An old face returns to Gotham...

In the future, young Terry McGinnis has assumed the mantle of the Bat and carries on the name of Batman, and all he stands for. Aside from Mr. Freeze, Terry has a whole new slew of villains to fight. An aging Bruce Wayne, too old and weak to physically handle the duties of Batman, sits in the cave and monitor's his young disciple?s progress. Bruce's villains have all but disappeared...but then one day, the clown prince of crime returns, as young and as spry as Bruce remembers him in his heyday. Is this new Joker an imposter? The real Joker must be as old as Bruce.


The crew. No that's not the Scarecrow....sadly.

This new Joker terrifies Bruce. Unlike the Batman of old, aging Bruce Wayne knows of the horrors the Joker can, and will, inflict to Gotham City. More importantly, this new Joker knows there is more to Bruce Wayne than an old coot in a big mansion. He knows that his arch-rival, the Batman, is old and now is the time to exact his revenge and take Gotham City from the good people.


We meet again, Batman. Time has not treated you well.

Return of the Joker is much darker and more violent than the other animated Batman films. There is a scene of torture, blood, stabbings, implied deaths, and a general dark tone that easily warrants a PG-13 rating. Will Friedle(Terry) does an impressive job as the new dark knight, though his tone is much more lighthearted than his mentor, Kevin Conroy(Bruce Wayne), who pulls an amazing old man performance that still shows that he understands the dichotomy between Bruce Wayne and Batman better than any actor out there). Mark Hammill(The Joker) pulls his best Joker performance ever, enhanced by the wonderful new Joker design. Angie Harmon(Commissioner Gordon) does a good job, but doesn't add too much to the old Barbara Gordon, now Commissioner. Dean Stockwell(older Tim Drake) has the right tone and character to his character and his performance will probably go unnoticed, but it's an amazing job. And lastly, Arleen Sorkin (Harley Quinn) is just as we remember her.


The best part of the film is the trip down memory lane....

Sadly, the direction is one of the film's weak points. I found that I was bored of most of the way the film was presented. The character's moved very well, the fight scenes were all done very well and feature a lot of complicated animations (especially the last due between the Joker and Terry). However, nothing really stood out. Often times, the backgrounds were so drab that I would find myself bored unless the animation was standing out. In general, that's my biggest beef with Batman Beyond too. The dark deco style didn't fit the Gotham of the future. It fit a more Dick Tracey, retro New York World's Fair look much better. But before I end this bit, I want to point out that I did give the Cinematography a B, a good mix between the drab backgrounds and the excellent character animation.

When talking about sound, simple music here. Kristopher Carter's original music doesn't hold a candle to Shirley Walker's orchestra from older Batman episodes or Mask of the Phantasm. Replacing a full orchestra with electric guitars fits the futuristic tone, but it's not good music for the dark knight.


Man, I love the new Joker redesign....

How does this film stand to other Batman films? Personally, it's my #3 behind Mask of the Phantasm and Batman Begins. The plot is simply superb and well written. The Joker is a psychopath and this film solidifies his new role in today's Batman universe. The film essentially ties up the older series (Batman: the Animated Series and The New Adventures of Batman) and also expands upon the Batman Beyond storyline.


Gotta love the Dark Knight Returns inspired Batmobile of Batman Beyond!

WARNING!!! SPOILERS BELOW!

The Differences between the CUT and UNCUT
+
Arguments for Both


Warner Bros. has actually released two versions of this film. The first release was the cut version, which was softer and had "less" violence. The Uncut version features blood and more explicit violence. Both films have the same outcome, but both come to their conclusions under different terms. Each film has an argument for how the characters would have acted.

Some of the cuts are just to appease the MPAA. The Joker more so 'poisons' his victims rather than kills them. He says "yutz" over "putz"...tough I don't really see the difference. The blood is removed. However the biggest change comes in the flashback...

In the film, the Joker kidnaps young Robin, a.k.a. Tim Drake and tortures him. During his probe, he pries out the secret identity of Batman. To add insult to injury, the Joker transforms young Tim Drake into a bastardized version of himself, complete with a purple schoolboy suit. When Batman discovers this, he loses it. Batman has lost his family before, and considers all of the Robins as his sons. Now he's lost his son to the chaos he has sworn to fight. At the same time, he is responsible for putting his son in danger. A fight ensures and the Joker is killed. But the way he dies is told differently:

CUT
When Joker gets the upper hand on the emotional Batman, he plans for one last joke, to have his new son kill his former master. Holding the defeated Batman by the collar, the Joker hands Tim a gun and orders Tim to kill Batman. However Tim denies and pushes the Joker into the room where he was operated/tortured. The room is still wet and the Joker stumbles into wires. The Jokers slips and pulls a lever and is electrocuted.

An argument for the Joker accidentally being killed
Some fans argue that Batman would have trained Robin NOT to kill, no matter what. This fact is a cornerstone of the Batman lore. Batman brings order and leaves it to the courts to deliver justice. He is not the executioner. He will not kill, period. By having Tim push the Joker, it solidifies the idea that no mater what the Joker did, Tim is still Tim and represents the ideals and morals his father has installed ino him. The Joker failed at destroying Batman's son.

UNCUT
When Joker gets the upper hand on the emotional Batman, he plans for one last joke, to have his new son kill his former master. Holding the defeated Batman by the collar, the Joker hands Tim a gun and orders Tim to kill Batman. In a laughing fit, Tim takes aim, adjusts at the last second and fires a shot into the Joker's chest. "That's not funny. That's not....." the clown prince of crime says before he falls, face first, into the ground. There is no accident, Tim Drake has killed the Joker, something Batman could never pull himself to do. Something he would never do. So there is tragedy, Tm Drake has fallen. He is no longer the Robin Batman has trained. The Joker has won. He has stolen Batman's son and there is tragedy instead of triumph.

My argument for the UNCUT plot?
So which plotline works? Personally, I like the idea that Joker's last act would be to 'destroy' Robin. Simply killing him isn't enough, he has destroyed all that Robin stood for and truly taken away a son from Bruce. It's cruel, depressing, and fitting for an ending to the clown prince of crime. It also explains Bruce's downward spiral that is obviously displayed by the bitter old Bruce Wayne. It's tragic, but so is the story of Bruce Wayne. He set out to accomplish a goal he could never finish, and he pays lots of prices along the way. This is one of them...perhaps his biggest.
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Old 01-22-2006, 05:42 AM   #47
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I need to check this movie out. How would I know that the movie is uncut, Drunken? Does it say in the front of the DVD Uncut Edition or somthing?
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Old 01-22-2006, 06:01 AM   #48
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Yup. It says Uncut on it. I don't think Warner even sells the CUT version anymore....not too sure tho...



[EDIT] Er...I guess this new package doesn't. I have the odler package that says "THE ORIGINAL, UNCUT VERSION" in big bold red letters ontop. Oh well, the link goes to the uncut DVD on Amazon.
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Old 09-09-2006, 03:53 AM   #49
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So, I got some free time comming up before I move into my new house. What should I review:

Silent Hill 2 (PS2/Xbox)
Swingers (by Jon Favreau)
Metal Gear Solid 3 (PS2, both versions with plot analysis)
V for Vendetta (Both the Graphic Novel and the film)
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Old 09-09-2006, 04:30 AM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drunken Savior
Metal Gear Solid 3 (PS2, both versions with plot analysis)
not that.
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Old 09-09-2006, 09:49 AM   #51
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Wow, I'm not really a Batman fan. But after reading that old review I want to see this.
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Old 09-11-2006, 02:18 PM   #52
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Batman Begins is excellent. You placed it at number 2? I would say that's right on point. Mask of the Phantasm deserves all the support, impo it was/is the best animated batman movie.


As for the rest, cant comment because I never watched.

*think about reviewing Silent Hill2 perhaps? I've never played any game in the series as a matter of fact.

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Old 09-12-2006, 05:48 AM   #53
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Silent Hill 2 (PS2, Xbox, PC)

***SINCE THIS IS MY FIRST VIDEO GAME REVIEW, THE CATEGORYS ARE NOT THE SAME AS MOVIES! PLEASE SEE THE INITIAL POST FOR MORE INFORMATION!***


Released 09/24/01 (NA), 09/27/01 (JP), 11/23/01 (EU)
*Restless Dreams released on the XBox on 12/20/01 (NA), 02/22/02 (JP), 10/04/02 (EU)*
(Made for the PS2 and then ported to the Xbox and PC)

Director: Masashi Tsuboyama
Producer: Akihiro Imamura
Music: Akira Yamaoka
Scenario Writer: Hiroyuki Owaku


Graphics: A-
Sound: A+
Story: A+
Gameplay: B-

Overall Score:
A


It is with great pride and admiration that I get to review the game that got me hooked into games, again. Metal Gear Solid on the Sony Playstation solidified the notion that videogames can tell a story that rivals the top scripts of their Hollywood counterparts for their respective genre. Silent Hill shows me that videogames can not only rival their counterparts, they can surpass it.

My favorite book of all time is Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, written in 1899. While very short (the book is usually under 100 pages), the pages are THICK. You'll find yourself reading only ten or so pages in a long period. The book is very thick, filled with symbolism about a man sent to investigate a man in the Congo. The story was the basis of F.F. Coppola's 'Apocalypse Now.'

So it finally happens. In my first video game review, it takes me 150 words to finally say the title of the game. Silent Hill 2 marks survival horror?s high point, effortlessly blending a solid atmospheric story with complimenting imagery and a masterful audio experience. This triple pronged attack is rarely seen in survival horror, totally immersing you and effecting your mind, eyes, and ears.



Is James going crazy, or are there really monsters after him?

Story
Silent Hill stars the widowed James Sunderland, who recently laid his wife, Mary, to rest from a terminal disease. However, three years after, he recives a letter from his wife, beckoning him to the town of Silent Hill, their ?special place.? Desperately missing his wife, he returns to Silent Hill, only to find that their ?special place? is no longer bustling with activity, but thick with fog, and desolate. A ghost town. Even worse, strange monsters begin attack James, who begins to question his own sanity. As James wonders the town, following a trail of hints, he is stalked by a giant knife wielding butcher called Pyramid Head, a manboy Eddie Dombrowski, the suicidal Angea Orosco, the young Laura (who is oblivious to the monsters around her), and finally Maria, who bares a hypersexual resemblance to Mary, James? wife.

I could literally talk for hours about the story?s plot and how I look at it. In high school, my essay on ?The Heart of Darkness? was ?the best I have ever seen? according my honors AP English teach, senior year. I spent a lot of time pondering the plot of HoD, but Silent Hill 2 takes the cake. Feel free to IM me whenever to talk about SH2's storyline.

A+


James finds a photograph of the killer that stalks him throughout the town...Pyramid Head.
(Gameplay Photo)


Graphics
Silent Hills graphics were, at the time, above average. I felt that the graphics had a very plastic look, more so than most video games. However, the art direction is amazing. Silent Hill 2 is a dual world, one organic, the other artificial. In one world, you will see a building abandoned, boarded up with plywood. In another, the same building will feature a rusty building, with chain link fencing for windows, with the door wide open, beckoning you into the nightmare. While Silent Hill 2 is not a technically impressive game, the developers have used their polygons wisely. The art direction totally works, immersing the player in a dark atmosphere that keeps the fright factor way high. Even the monsters, predominantly women, all play a role in deciphering the game?s story.

A-


James and Maria share a momment...

Sound
Akira Yamaoka. Remember his name. This guy is, in my opinion, Silent Hill. He knows when to include sound to increase the terror. He also knows when to take it away to create terror. While most of the game do not feature a musical track, the music is very atmospheric, dark, and puzzling (as in it accents the mystery of the game). His sound work is excellent. In one particular level, you enter a long hallway, and are treated to the sound of footsteps behind you. As you walk down the hallway, the footsteps get closer. You turn around, they stop?and you see nothing. You continue back down the hallway, the footsteps return. Top notch work, the official bar by which all survival horror games should aspire to.

A+


Angela's story is probably the saddest of them all...

Gameplay
Silent Hill is plagued by the same clich? control scheme in survival horror games of its day: tank controls. Up moves your forward, left and right rotate your character on an axis. It drove me crazy running, turning, and running. As you get used to the controls, you?ll learn how to turn, but never feel like you have solid control, which hurts in a game where the control of your character can determine your fate.

However, with it?s multiple endings, you?ll probably play this game around 3 times after your initial purchase if you dig survival horror games.

B-


Prepare to have you mind f***ed.
(Gameplay Photo)


Final Thoughts.... SPOILERS BELOW!!
The story of Silent Hill 2 is left open on purpose. Konami has said none of the endings are official cannon and it is up to the reader to decide how the story ends. Each of the serious endings each puts it?s own tint on the story. Here are some questions I propose to you upon completing the game. There is no single most right answer.

1)Is Silent Hill 2 a story about revenge, justice, or life?
2)Is the town of Silent Hill ?punishing? James or is Mary controlling Silent Hill to do her own punishing?
3)Is Mary actually Mary? That is, is James? wife controlling Silent Hill or is Silent Hill manipulating James with visions of his wife?
4)Who is guilty in Silent Hill or murder? Who is justified in murder?
5)What is the significance of a solitary punisher (Pyramid Head)?
6)What was Pyramid Head actually doing to that monster in the beginning of the game?
7)Why was Maria a sexual version of Mary?

You can write essays on the plot. It?s the best dramatic story in all of videogames.
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Old 09-12-2006, 05:53 AM   #54
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Silent Hill 2 fucking rocks. I played through the Xbox version which was in quadrophonic sound and that really helped the ambience. I guess it also had something extra, but hell if I know what it was. Awesome game. I was never "afraid", but I was always enthralled with the story. The ending was awesome, and the music is insanely good (and appropriate).

The movie can't compete with Silent Hill 2.
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Old 09-12-2006, 06:03 AM   #55
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By the way, I did not take those screen captures, so I can not tell which version of the game is in each photo. I based my review on the PS2 version. But I have the Xbox version too.

The game was made for the PS2 and ported from there. (Notes that in review)

[EDIT] I also tagged each photo with '(Gameplay Photo)' to distinguish between the game and CGI. This will be a feature, as I do not want people to be tricked into thinking CGI was the graphics you'll see the majority of the time when you are playing.

I also guarantee no one will see my next review comming. Just like you didn't see my first review comming...[/seriousness]
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Old 09-12-2006, 08:10 AM   #56
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I never finished that game. I got too creeped out.
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Old 09-12-2006, 09:21 AM   #57
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OK I actually decided to read your review word for word instead of just blindly posting my thoughts on the game (like anyone else's thoughts actually matter). The Xbox version does not have tank controls. Well it does, but they are optional. You can control the game normally and I think normal controls are the default. I played Silent Hill 2 before Silent Hill 1 and I struggled so hard with the controls in part 1 as a result.
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Old 09-12-2006, 10:18 AM   #58
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I tried Silent Hill for a little while but never got into it. Never had the urge to purchase it nor the sequel. But it was fun watching my brother play. Sort of. No, I'm not scared.
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Old 09-18-2006, 03:12 PM   #59
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Finally watched "Once Upon a Time in the West." Awesome movie just absolutely unbelievable. After seeing Henry Fonda in movies like "Grapes of Wrath" it was weird watching him as this evil SOB in this movie. I think this is probably one of the best westerns I have ever seen.
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Old 09-18-2006, 08:45 PM   #60
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I didnt understand Angela. Never felt anything for her since she is only in a couple scenes in the game. The reason was is that I didnt understand it. She was looking for her mother and she thought she was in Silent Hill. That's all I got out of it.

Out of the 7 questions you posted DS, I can explain a couple. The easiest one to explain is 7.

And if you say you were never scared, you either:

A) Didnt actually played it
B) Played it during the day with other people
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