15 March 2006

Disappearing Ink #4 - Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Batman: The Animated Series premiered in 1992. I still remember watching the first episode, On Leather Wings, which has Batman fighting the Man-Bat. The animation style and quality was unlike any TV animation I had seen before. And the stories were not your average Superfriends fare. They had heart and maturity. Phantasm was originally planned as a direct to video movie based on the series, but was ultimately released theatrically on Christmas 1993. It mustered up a modest $5.6 million, but that's not to say this movie was no good. In fact, until Batman Begins came out, Phantasm was frequently considered the best Batman film. It has a flawless 100% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and more importantly, a thumbs up from me.

So, what makes it so good? It is true to the spirit of Batman. Now that Batman Begins has spoiled us, it may be difficult to appreciate just what an accomplishment it was to nail the characters of Batman and Bruce Wayne. Kevin Conroy is Batman. His voice is intimidating and commanding without sounding exaggerated. He conveys Bruce's struggle to please his fallen parents, and to and happiness of his own. The film presents Bruce accepting his tragic fate of becoming the Batman. Also, there is mystery, who is the Phantasm, and what is his gameplan? And there is the Joker. Luke Skywalker delivers a maniacally brilliant performance as Mr. J.

One of my favorite scenes is a flashback sequence showing Bruce wearing black, and a knit ski mask (I wonder were they got that idea from in Begins?). He takes on a group of thugs, and ends up on the hood of a speeding semi, where he pulls out a ball-peen hammer from his belt with which he takes out the big rig. Sweet!

The ending sequence does drag a little, but the film is a lot of fun. I guess it may not be for everyone though. If you don't like Batman, you probably wont like it, or if you are lame. Honestly though, the movie will be appreciated more by Batfans than the general public, and for that reason, I give it a B+.

Check out my past reviews:
Grave of the Fireflies
The Iron Giant
Kaena: The Prophecy


Anonymous said...

I thought the same thing when I saw that scene in Batman Begins with his semi-costume; it's almost lifted from this movie.
Anyway, Phantasm is the best Batman movie ever as far as I'm concerned

HoneyBee said...

totally agree with the comment above. this is one of my favorite movie, and one of the best batman films beside batman returns and batman begins. i also made a review about this movie... i wish they can make a sequel or something.

Chip Chief said...

but Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero is sort of a sequel, and is so much better than Batman and Robin, its hard to believe.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Albertson(AKA: Comic book Guy)

Best movie ever...Do you like 40 year old vigins (You guys don't get laid do you, or even have a sex life!)

Anonymous said...

I thought Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker was brilliant as well.