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Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) - Blu-ray Review

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Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) - Blu-ray Review

5 beersThere’s no denying that Batman: Mask of the Phantasm has, over the years since its original release, developed a strong cult following.  There are those out there that consider this animated feature length movie – an extension of the popular animated series that debuted after Tim Burton’s Batman films with Michael Keaton cleared the scene – to be the absolute best animated movie made.  There are others who feel it is, hands down, the best Batman movie out there. 

It is safe, dear reader, to assume that I don’t disagree with either statement.  Not one bit.  When Joel Schumacher took over the film series and Keaton dropped cowl, this was where the real fans of Batman fled.  And we did so willingly. 

This is a BRILLIANT superhero movie.  It’s darker than the animated show, more on point with themes of turmoil as Bruce Wayne makes the decision to become Batman, forbidding himself of any great love, and regret.  The film marches forward into that cape and cowl of darkness with a promise to entertain and, boy, does Mask of the Phantasm ever do exactly that.  There’s not a low point in this animated movie, making it one of the very best Warner Bros ever had to offer fans.

Developed and directed by Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski, this neo noir film falls in step perfectly with the beloved television series it stemmed from.  The writers - Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Martin Pasko, and Michael Reaves – just spent a bit longer with the process of getting into the head of Batman (voiced by Kevin Conroy, who continues to voice Batman to this day in animated movies and video games) and gave him a believable romance with the introduction of Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delany) as the ex-fiancée of Bruce Wayne.  She’s returned to Gotham City after an extended absence, but her plans are a bit suspect. 

Featuring Joker (Mark Hamill, who also STILL voices the character) and Stacy Keach as the voice of an entirely new villain called the Phantasm, the superhero movie scored big with critics and fans alike.  Of course, it didn’t earn very much at the box office thanks in large part to the decision by Warner Bros to release the film theatrically rather than the planned straight-to-DVD release.   This confused audiences who thought it was coming to television, I guess because it bombed.

Yet, its legacy continues to this very day. 

The film features fantastic fight sequences, including one where Joker and Batman fight each other upon a model sized replica of Gotham City.  That’s right, just as the rubber-suited men in Toho’s Godzilla series wrestled against miniatures, these two characters appear as giants duking it out for control of the city.  It’s a mesmerizing scene of icons embracing all that it is so very terrible about their fates.  The Joker as the laughing clown prince of crime and Batman as the caped crusader; neither choosing the peaceful way of life due to the existence of the other. 

As pronounced and worthy of the 1080p upgrade as Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is, I wouldn’t get your hopes up that this release means that the FANTASTIC animated series – which ran from 1992 to 1995 and produced 85 episodes of continued quality before it became another series – will be debuting on blu-ray anytime soon.  Warner Bros Archive is merely throwing us a bone with this release.  But what a bone it is!

Batman gets animated in HD with the release of this cult classic.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: PG for animated violence.
Runtime:
76 mins
Director
: Eric Radomski, Bruce Timm
Writer:
Alan Burnett; Paul Dini &Martin Pasko & Michael Reaves
Cast:
Kevin Conroy, Dana Delany, Hart Bochner
Genre
: Action | Sci-fi | Animation
Tagline:
The Dark Knight fights to save Gotham City from its deadliest enemy.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Mi casa nostra es su casa nostra."
Theatrical Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Official Site:
Release Date:
December 25, 1993
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 11, 2016
Synopsis: Batman is wrongly implicated in a series of murders of mob bosses actually done by a new vigilante assassin.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Warner Bros.
Available on Blu-ray
- July 25, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

The film noir aesthetics of the movie are served well with this release from Warner Bros Archives.  Black levels are strong throughout and the colors, while defined, are bold, preserving the notoriously breathtaking looks and shades of the television series.  Mask of the Phantasm remaster will amp up the resolution to 1080p and leave the aspect ratio for viewers to decide.  Do they want to see it cinematically or the television way?  I guess it depends on how you originally saw the film as the newly minted remastered version will support both the original theatrical 16×9 aspect ratio (1.78:1) AND open matte 4×3 (1.37:1) aspect ratio. And the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 presents Shirley Walker’s score with a crisp quality that it so richly deserves.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  •  Unfortunately, nothing is presented.

Special Features:

Again, Warner Bros Archives is shooting blanks.  With just the television cut of the movie and film’s trailer as supplements, we are left just thankful to have this release in HD.

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Television Version

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) - Blu-ray Review

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