Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
Rhino Records (R2 75857)
Release Date: 2000
Conducted by Kristopher Carter
|1.||Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Main Title)|
|3.||Meet the Joker|
|4.||Joker Crashes Bruce's Party|
|5.||Terry Relieved of Duty|
|6.||Nightclub Fight / Terry Rescues Bruce|
|7.||A Trap for Tim|
|8.||Joker Family Portrait|
|10.||Batman Defeats the Jokerz|
|11.||Joker Meets His End (Again)|
|12.||Healing Old Wounds|
|13.||"Crash (The Humble Brothers Remix)" - Mephisto Odyssey Featuring Static X|
|14.||Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (End Title) - Featuring Kenny Wayne Shepherd|
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|by Dan Goldwasser
on November 29th, 2000
When it was first created as a spin-off television show, "Batman Beyond" quickly became a big success, and managed to retain many loyal viewers of the original "Batman Animated Series" as well as attracting a new set of fans. The idea of an orchestral and electronic music fusion was something the music team wanted for "Batman Beyond" - but due to some budgetary constraints, the music ended up primarily being electronic. It was certainly a new sound for the new show, and when Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker came around, it gave composer Kristopher Carter the opportunity to do what they had wanted all along.
The "Main Title" from the film starts off with a soft electronic percussion with a wailing electric guitar playing the main theme (a variation on Carter's "Batman Beyond" theme) that is quickly overpowered by dramatic orchestral hits. Then the "fusion" sound kicks into high gear with some hard rock elements combined with the classic "Batman Animated Series" sound that Shirley Walker had made so famous. My favorite cue in the album (probably due to the fact that when I interviewed Carter this was the cue they were mixing - so I heard it about 20 times in in its full glory) is "Industrial Heist". Involving an elaborate fight scene between Batman and the Jokerz in a warehouse, the percussive orchestra mixed with the swirling strings, electric guitars, and synth mesh together in a way that's just elating. The almost Bond-esque brass makes a quick appearance here - and will show up again later in the album.
Many of the cues are atmospheric and electronic in nature, but all of them tend to have some sort of orchestral padding. Other cues, such as "Terry Relieved of Duty" have a softer side to them. Parts of this cue remind me of the more soft dramatic moments in Howard Shore's score to Ed Wood. It's a quiet, more emotional side to the score, and is a pleasant break from the hard rock elements. Speaking of which, the next track ("Nightclub Fight / Terry Rescues Bruce") immediately starts off with some hard guitar that turns into an (almost headache inducing) action cue with lots of heavy metal noise. Thankfully, about halfway in the orchestra starts coming up in the mix, and then suddenly the cue becomes a great homage to a Bond score with the strings and brass punching all the way.
The mixture of rock and orchestra are definitely the highlights of this album. Carter has done an excellent job mixing the two elements together, and this score ranks up there as one of the better ones of the year. I can't say that I'm really into the song "Crash" by Mephisto Odyssey that appears at the end of the album - it doesn't really fit in with the rest of the album - even the hard rock elements in the score seemed more in place than this track. But the album ends with the "End Title" featuring guitar work by Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and it's really a good cue. The album runs almost 40-minutes, and (as the producer, Alan Burnett, said) "you're in for one amazing ride".
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