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Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) Movie Poster
  •  USA  •    •  76m  •    •  Directed by: Eric Radomski, Bruce Timm, Kevin Altieri, Boyd Kirkland, Frank Paur, Dan Riba.  •  Starring: Kevin Conroy, Dana Delany, Hart Bochner, Stacy Keach, Abe Vigoda, Dick Miller, John P. Ryan, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Robert Hastings, Robert Costanzo, Mark Hamill, Arleen Sorkin, Jane Downs.  •  Music by: Shirley Walker.
       Batman, the costumed crime-fighter who prowls the night skies in Gotham City, soon finds there's another vigilante in town knocking off prominent mob figures. Despite the scythe-like blade for a hand, a mechanical voice and the cloud of smoke that follows the figure wherever it goes, the police and outraged officials mistake the homicidal crusader for Batman himself and demand that the city's longtime hero be brought to justice. Meanwhile, Andrea Beaumont returns to town. She is the lost love of Bruce Wayne, the billionaire playboy who is Batman's alter ego, and was an integral part of Wayne's decision ten years earlier to don the cape and cowl. Now, she is back in his life and is no less a disruption than the return of his old archenemy, The Joker, who has a stake in seeing the annihilation of this new vigilante, whoever it proves to be.

Trailers:

   Length:  Languages:  Subtitles:
 1:04
 
 
 0:37
 
 
 0:31
 
 
 2:24
 
 

Review:

Image from: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Image from: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Image from: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Image from: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Image from: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Image from: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Image from: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Image from: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Image from: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Image from: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Animation is all too often written off as being excursively for children. Yet occasionally there comes along something that, while ostensibly for children, that works perhaps better for adults who might be watching. Batman: The Mask Of The Phantasm (and the TV series Batman: The Animated Series it was spawned from) are perfect example of that. While there's plenty of action in it, the story is full of details and depth that adults would pick up on. The result is an action story with a surprising amount of characterization and plot that puts head and shoulders above many other films both animated and live action.

Much of the films success is done to the voice casting, many of whom reprise their roles for the TV series. Kevin Conroy has proved himself to be practically definitive with his performances as Batman Bruce Wayne over the years and this film is no exception. In fact, this film takes Conroy's performance as Batman one step further as we learn of his lost love and how the past continues to haunt this man. The result is a Batman that, while a man of action, is very much human as well and the film is all the better for it.

The rest of the voice casting is splendid as well. Dana Delany gives a moving performance as Wayne's lost love Andrea 'Andi' Beaumont whose past relationship with Wayne, and the secrets surrounding it, lie at the heart of the film. Character actor Stacy Keach gives a fine performance as Andrea's banker father as well as supplying the voice of the mysterious Phantasm. Hart Bochner gives a fine, if somewhat over the top performance as the sleazy Gotham City Councilman Arthur Reeves who orders the hunt for Batman. There's also the performances of Abe Vigoda, Dick Miller and John P. Ryan as the mobsters being hunted by the Phantasm. Not forgetting those who reprise their roles from the TV series such as Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Alfred, Bob Hastings as Commissioner Gordon and Robert Costanzo as Detective Harvey Bullock or of course even Mark Hamill as Batman's arch-nemesis The Joker who gives a menacing, yet maniacal, performance that's become a trademark of the animated series. All together they round out the film's excellent cast.

The films animation is as fine as well. Using the same animation style as the TV series it was spawned from, the story is perfectly set in a world of shadows where the modern exists blended seamlessly in with art deco influences. This is used to good effect both in the film's flashbacks and its finale as well with the use of a World's Fair like exhibition that serves a fine metaphor for the story as well. The animation, coupled with the score of Shirley Walker, helps brings the world of the film to life.

It is perhaps the films story that is its biggest highlight. The TV series was praised for not dumbing down its stories and the film is no exception. As I wrote at the beginning, this is a film with plenty of action in it with a story full of details and depth that adults would pick up on. Mask Of The Phantasm uses its expanded length to go into back-story that the TV series could never do and the result is a film the is as much as tale of love and loss as it is an action film with rooftop chases, fist fights and the like. There is a genuine love story between Bruce and Andrea and it is that love, its loss and secret consequences that are at the films heart. Yet all the while, Batman finds that the city he's sworn to protect hunting him due to the deaths of mobsters at the hands of the mysterious Phantasm which brings the action and love story together for the films incredible revelations and its finale. The result is one of the best written Batman films yet written.

Overall, Batman: The Mask Of The Phantasm is one example of what animation can do at its best. This is thanks to many elements such as Kevin Conroy's haunted performance of Batman to the fine supporting cast, fine animation, the score of Shirley Walker and one of the best Batman scripts yet written. The result is a film that is, for all intents and purposes, head and shoulders above many other films both animated and live action.


Review by Matthew Kresal from the Internet Movie Database.