HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Lu Over the Wall
She's Funny That Way
Vox Lux
Aftermath, The
Five Fingers for Marseilles
Jupiter's Moon
Favourite, The
Mysteries of the Gods
Coming Home
De Sade
Patti Cake$
Hellbound
Final Destination 2
Romance
Bros: After the Screaming Stops
Cockleshell Heroes, The
Mule, The
Sunday in the Country
Nutcracker Fantasy
Spellcaster
Hipsters
Executive Action
Captain Marvel
Zombie Girl
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Rhinoceros
Monkey King 3, The
Adventurers, The
Stripped to Kill
Daughter of Dr. Jekyll
Aladdin's Magic Lamp
Christopher Robin
Hole in the Ground, The
Daniel
Blue Christmas
Death Trip
She's Missing
Return of the Soldier
Shaft
Summer Lovers
   
 
Newest Articles
The Hole in the Ground: Director Lee Cronin Interview
She's Missing: Director Alexandra McGuinness Interview
Woo's the Boss: Last Hurrah for Chivalry & Hand of Death on Blu-ray
Get Ahead in Showbiz: Expresso Bongo and It's All Happening
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
Tucked: The Derren Nesbitt Interview
Locomotion Pictures: The Best of British Transport Films on Blu-ray
Roman Scandals: Extreme Visions from Ancient Rome
Spider-Wrong and Spider-Right: The Dragon's Challenge and Into the Spider-Verse
Monster Dog: Cujo on Blu-ray
For Christ's Sake: Jesus Christ Superstar and The Last Temptation of Christ
Not In Front of the Children: Inappropriate Kids Movies
Deeper into Ozploitation: Next of Kin and Fair Game
Between the Wars: Babylon Berlin Series 1&2 on DVD
Hard Luck Story: Detour on Blu-ray
   
 
  Batman: Mask of the Phantasm There's a new vigilante in townBuy this film here.
Year: 1993
Director: Eric Radomski, Bruce W. Timm
Stars: Kevin Conroy, Dana Delaney, Hart Bochner, Stacy Keach, Abe Vigoda, Dick Miller, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Bob Hastings, Robert Costanzo, Mark Hamill, Arleen Sorkin
Genre: Action, Thriller, Animated, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: On patrol in Gotham City Batman (voiced by Kevin Conroy) discovers there is a new vigilante in town. Phantasm (Stacey Keach) has a hood, a mask, a mechanical voice and scythe for a hand. He kills powerful mobsters only to vanish in puff of smoke. Despite this murderous modus operandi, outraged attorney Arthur Reeves (Hart Bochner) is convinced the killer is Batman and sends the police after the caped crusader. Meanwhile Batman's alter-ego Bruce Wayne is drawn away from the mystery by the return of Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delaney), the one woman he truly loved and for whom he considers relinquishing his war on crime.

For many Bat-fans the definitive screen incarnation of the caped crusader remains Batman: The Animated Series that ran in various different formats from 1992 to 2000. Distinguished by the sublime art deco meets steampunk artistry of animator Bruce W. Timm and the ingenious film noir screenwriting of co-producer Paul Dini the show set out to do for Batman what Max Fleischer achieved with his seminal Superman cartoons more than fifty years before and outdid them in terms of gut-wrenching drama. So successful was the animated show that Warner Brothers abandoned their initial direct-to-video strategy to release the feature-length Batman: Mask of the Phantasm in cinemas. Sadly neglected during its theatrical run by the audience that then inexplicably flocked to Joel Schumacher's vapid Batman Forever (1995), Mask of the Phantasm eventually turned a profit on video paving the way for further DTV animated offerings like Batman: Sub-Zero (1998) and Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (2002) that were hugely entertaining if comparatively lightweight.

Although the Phantasm character was part-inspired by the chief villain of the flawed, controversial DC comics storyline Batman: Year Two penned by Mike Barr, screenwriters Paul Dini, Alan Burnett, Martin Pasko and Michael Reaves concoct their own superior storyline. The plot springs from the troubling question an anxious Bruce Wayne often asks himself: whether Batman is as unhinged as the villains he pursues. Dini and co. concoct a doomed romance evoking vintage film noir like Out of the Past (1947) as the return of an old flame leads Bruce to choose between true love and the city he swore to defend. Flashbacks reveal Andrea first entered his life at an age when he was on the cusp of committing to his role as Batman, thus enabling Timm, Dini and co-director Eric Radomski to throw in a glimpse of Batman: Year One with young Bruce as a ski-masked vigilante-in-training, still seeking the perfect gimmick. As we criss-cross from past to present day the allure of a normal life proves hard to resist. In the most emotionally devastating scene found in any Batman movie, Bruce Wayne stands before his parents' graves and begs for forgiveness ("I am sorry. I never expected to be happy").

Timm and Dini understand the key to the tragedy of Batman is that the thing he has devoted his life to protect is in some ways also the real villain of the mythos. Namely, Gotham City: a dark metropolis spreading pipelines of pain that turn emotionally vulnerable people into costumed freaks that attack each other. The saddest thing of all is how Bruce and Andrea never had a chance. What binds them together is also predestined to drive them apart. There is real dramatic weight to the interaction between characters here unlike almost any other American cartoon. Batman: The Animated Series was of course famous for the high calibre of its voice cast many of whom returned here. Kevin Conroy simply IS Batman. He unearths depths of humanity from beneath the cowl and is well paired with an excellent Dana Delaney. Styled much like quintessential Forties femme fatale Lauren Bacall, Andrea would stand as the most complex love interest in any Batman movie, which is pretty remarkable for a cartoon, until Anne Hathaway slunk onto screen as Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Then there is the film's ace in the hole: Mark Hamill as the Joker, arguably as definitive as Conroy's Batman. The Clown Prince of Crime enters events late in the game but immediately steers things into even more dangerous territory.

Dini and his co-writers have a gift for hard-boiled but poetic dialogue that complements the oddly timeless retro-Forties visuals conjured by Radomski and Timm. Shirley Walker's soaring choral led score enhances the grandeur of the towering art deco fever dream that is Gotham City and while the closing theme sounds a little dated it remains of interest for being performed by Tia Carrere of Wayne's World (1992) and Lilo & Stitch (2002) fame. Nevertheless the film's chief pleasures are visual. They include the potent metaphor of the world of the future exhibit Bruce and Andrea visit in the past but which in the present has become a derelict nightmare inhabited by you know who. In a neat conceit the finale has Batman and the Joker battle it out in the miniature city like monsters in a Japanese kaiju eiga, cleverly visualizing the key themes.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1849 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (1)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Darren Jones
   

 

Last Updated: