Monday, February 4, 2013

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (Eric Radomski & Bruce W. Timm, 1993) Review

Heh, you thought I was done with Batman films. Well you've clearly never heard of the animated films. I think it's safe to say that Batman: The Animated Series is one of the best TV shows of all time so it only makes sense that a feature length movie was made. No, this wasn't a simple direct to video film, no no, this was released in the cinemas. That clearly must mean that this is an amazing film. Well, is it? Let's find out.

When a new villain known as the Phantasm (Stacey Keach Jr.) starts killing all the big mob bosses in Gotham, Batman (Kevin Conroy) is blamed. Things get worse for Bruce Wayne when his old girlfriend, Andrea Beaument (Dana Delany), returns to Gotham after leaving Bruce 10 years ago with her father. In fear of the Phantasm, the last mob boss, Salvatore Valestra (Abe Vigoda), hires the Joker (Mark Hammil) for protection. Now Batman must clear his name, stop the Phantasm and the Joker and fix his relationship with Andrea.

This film reinforces why I love the animated series so much! The voice acting is nothing short of fantastic with arguably the best Batman and Joker actors, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill (yes, that is Luke Skywalker). Conroy has never had to do too much emotion as Batman but the complications in his life that he faces really bring out his talent as an actor. Naturally, Mark Hamill displays an excellent mix of insanity and just being hilarious. While there were a few moments that felt out of character, the cast is great and even the new actors bring in a pretty good performance.

I am so glad that we FINALLY get to see the origin of Batman in the animated universe. Because of showing his origins, this is a very emotion and dialogue driven film. Sure there's action but that's not the focus of the film. The animated series has always been about the psychological turmoils of the characters and how emotive the stories can be. The writing is excellent and leads to one hell of a twist...two twists actually.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is an underrated gem. This may be because it got little to no publicity when it was released theatrically but now that it's on DVD, you have no excuse to not watch this film. The film is filled with mixed emotions like humour, sadness, badassness and it's even pretty terrifying at times. If you grew up with the show, you have to watch this. It treated the audience more like adults than th elive action film at the time did! This review has inspired me to do a top ten...yeah I'm probably gonna do my top ten Batman episodes...because I can.

A underrated gem. An excellent voice cast topped off with great writing and a great look into the animated Batman world.

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