Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (Animated, 1993)
Plot: When a new masked killer called Phantasm (Stacy Keach Jr) starts killing mob bosses, Batman (Kevin Conroy) is accused. As the mob killings are connected, Batman tries to figure out who the Phantasm is as the film also introduces flashbacks into Bruce Wayne’s past love (Dana Delany) and early days as Batman.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is based on the Batman Animated Series from the early nineties, one of the greatest TV shows ever made. This movie definitely lives up to the brilliance of the show. Although I think the Tim Burton films are better, this is certainly more of a faithful adaptation of Batman. The animation is great. It’s got a very distinctive look just like in the animated series. The best parts about Phantasm are the look into Batman’s early days which have never been touched on in previous Batman movies. It really focuses on Bruce Wayne acting as the dim-witted playboy. The animation is fantastic in showing you how distraught he is by having to play this part. There’s a very emotional scene in which Bruce breaks down at his parents graves which gave us great voice acting by the amazing Kevin Conroy. Oh yea, and this film also has the Joker (Mark Hamill). Hamill is brilliant as is the characterization. I love his hideout at an abandoned fair and how he interacts with his fake robot family. One of my favorite scenes is when Joker injects his laughing gas into someone, and the guy totally loses it. The dialogue is clunky here and there, a lot of the mob guys are pretty generic, and it’s not that ambitious, but it’s a great Batman movie to be sure.
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Great)
Category Rankings (Spoilers Throughout)
Best Performance: Mark Hamill as the Joker
-Kevin Conroy is great, but Mark Hamill couldn’t have found a more perfect voice for this character. His best moments are when he pretends to sound innocent. That’s when the Joker is the scariest. And his laugh is just out of the park awesome.
Worst Performance: Dick Miller as Chuckie Sol
-He just sounds so run of the mill mob guy. When he says stuff like “you ain’t the bat,” he’s barely trying. So forgettable.
Best Line: “Vengeance blackens the soul Bruce. I always feared you’d become that which you fought against. You walk the edge of that abyss every night, but you haven’t fallen in.” –Alfred
-Whoa, pretty deep Alfred. But he sums up Batman perfectly. Although, it freaked me out to hear Alfred say “Bruce” and not “Sir.”
Worst Line: “Pardon sir, but Miss Bambi is dancing on the piano.” –Alfred
-Did the name really have to be “Miss Bambi?” Come on.
-A solid Batman/Joker match-up at the end. Joker uses plenty of toys, and it ends with a jet-pack. You can’t really go wrong there.
-Okay, towards the end of the film, Batman is walking around and there’s a random Warner Brothers “WB” symbol just written on the wall. What the hell! It’s so blatant and looks so kiddie compared with the darkness of the scene. Why is this logo here! I’m already watching the film. You don’t have to advertise your company during it. This was so weird. WTF!
-The moment that really got to me was seeing Bruce Wayne dress up as Batman for the very first time. The animation as he holds the utility belt was stellar. But when he holds his mask and stares at it…that was really something. It even got Alfred to go “My God.” Whoa.
-When Bruce is at his own party and a bunch of bimbo women come up to him to talk about commitment, the dialogue is just so straight forward and lazy. Even though it did lead into one of the better themes of the film, this was lethargic writing.
-How is it not Joker hitting someone with a big slab of bologna?
Bad Ass Moment:
-It’s a clichéd moment, but always a classic. Batman fakes out the cops as he grapples his cape and cowl onto a police helicopter. It was weird to see Batman run away with no mask though.