When the city’s most feared gangsters are systematically eliminated, the Caped Crusader is blamed. But prowling the Gotham night is a shadowy new villain, the Phantasm, a sinister figure with some link to Batman’s past. Can the Dark Knight elude the police, capture the Phantasm and clear his own name? – Warner Bros. Family Entertainment
It has recently come to my attention that I could be a better writer. Like any sane person, I decided to down a glass of bleach after hearing that. Apparently, bleach doesn’t get you drunk. So after getting my stomach pumped, I got a better idea. I remembered an ancient proverb from Greece: “practice makes perfect.” I believe it was the great philosopher Socrates who said that. Socrates had the right idea so this time I decided to write another review and practice my craft.
I have always called myself a fan of Batman. He is up there as one of my favorite superheroes and maybe even literary characters. I have seen all the live-action adaptions of the Caped Crusader and read my fair share of comics. The animated films are where I have lacked. Many say that Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is the greatest Batman film of all time. I wasn’t even born when this movie came out, not that that is an excuse as I have seen a decent amount of Adam West Batman. Nonetheless Mask of the Phantasm was recently released on Blu-ray so I picked it up and I watched it the other night.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was directed by Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski and it was written by Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Martin Pasko and Michael Reaves. Batman was no stranger to any of them as they all had worked on the animated series. I’ll be honest I am not entirely sure how different directing an animated film is from directing a live action film but I imagine it’s more challenging as everything is completely made from scratch. This film is set in the world of the animated series and it looks just like the animated series but a caliber higher in quality.
The story is what is so spectacular about this film. The script embodies Batman, doesn’t matter which version of the Bat you prefer, you will find something to like in this film. There is more to Batman then a big brooding man in a bat suit running around punching people. He is a damaged broken man but also a genius in peak physical condition. Bruce Wayne seems perfect on the outside but his psyche is severely damaged by the loss of his parents and lack of control he had the night they were taken from him. The Bat made a promise that he would avenge his parents but something comes between the promise, love. Bruce Wayne hasn’t been happy since his parents died. That is until he meets Andrea Beaumont, someone who truly makes him feel.
The movie is about Batman trying to catch a killer and clear his name but it is so much more than that. It is about Batman struggling to find himself. The film flashes back and forth between him first starting his path towards justice and present day. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm has everything you’d want in a Batman movie. You’ll find mystery, adventure, action and most importantly heart. You really get a look in to the Bat and you begin to understand him and feel for him. Some might say it is hard to sympathize with a billionaire, playboy, philanthropist who is also a perfect specimen of fitness and a world-renowned detective and vigilante. And of course, it sucks that his parents were murdered in front of him but this movie paints such a vivid picture of Batman that you can related to and feel for him. At the core of a Batman story or any story really, you just want to something to relate to.
The story here is just superb and it has aged like a fine wine. I don’t drink wine but I hear what goes good with some fine wine is some fine cheese. The cheese in this movie is the voice cast. The actors in this film are just superb even rivaling many live action performances. Just like the writers and directors the voice cast is also primarily from the animated series. If you ask many they will say that Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are the quintessential Batman and Joker and I will agree with that. Kevin Conroy is Batman, when I read a Batman comic it is in his voice. Mark Hamill has the greatest Joker laugh of all time. Of course, you’re going to be overshadowed when the likes of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are in a Batman movie but I applaud all the voice actors in this film. I have an immense respect for voice actors. They solely must rely on their voice alone to show emotion while live action actors can use body language and mannerisms to convey feelings.
I do feel that Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is truly one of the best Batman films. This film rivals Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. It’s old but it has aged quite well. Also, the movie is only 76 minutes long that’s like the length of one episode of Game of Thrones. There is no reason to not watch this movie and I am a little ashamed that it took me 23 years to watch it.
I give Batman: Mask of the Phantasm a 9 out of 10, would watch again.