Batman: Mask of the Phantasm Review
By Taylor Castro
I decided to check out a TV showing of the animated movie, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm on the Hub Channel. I had seen parts of the movie when it aired on Cartoon Network back in the late 1990’s and on YouTube in recent years. So I finally got a chance to see it in its entirety.
Before I can discuss the film’s storyline, let’s talk about the making of the film. With the success of the Batman Animated Series, a movie version of the show would soon be made. According to the website IMDb, it was originally planned as a direct to video movie, but Warner Bros. decided to upgrade the movie to a theatrical release late in production. As a result, the movie’s aspect ratio had to be reformatted to widescreen. Many of the actors who worked on the Batman animated series reprized their roles for the film version. The film was released during the 1993 Christmas season, but it wasn’t a big hit as the studio had hoped for, but it was a hit with critics. In fact some of them said that the film was even better than the two Tim Burton Batman movies released before this film.
Here’s a summary about the movie. A new anti-hero named the Phantasm has arrived in Gotham City to take out a group of gangsters one by one. In the process, Batman is mistaken for the murders because of the similarities to the Phantasm’s costume. Now he must go into hiding from the Gotham Police while figuring out the mysterious killer’s motive. To make matters worse, one of the remaining crime bosses hires the Joker to take out Batman and soon discovers who the Phantasm really is. While that is going on a woman from Bruce Wayne’s past returns into his life and decides if he should retire Batman once and for all.
About half of the film is told in flashback which explored the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Andrea Beaumont, as well as Bruce’s first attempt of being a crime fighter before coming with the idea for Batman. After a while of being together, Bruce asked Andrea’s hand in marriage in which she says yes, but later rejects him due to personal reasons. This wave of bitterness finally pushed Bruce into becoming Batman.
Many of the voice actors from the Animated Series like Kevin Conroy and Efren Zimbalist Jr. reprise their roles for the film version. The voice acting here is great and as well the film’s score by the late Shirley Walker. If you’re a fan of the Batman Animated Series, I recommend checking this film out. I give the film ***1/2 out of ****. With the holidays upon us, next time I’ll do a double feature review. However these will be two animated shorts instead of a feature film. First up will be “The Snowman” and “Mickey’s Christmas Carol.”