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Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

"You're the very model of sanity. Oh, by the way, I've pressed your tights and put away your exploding gas balls," said Alfred.
"Thank you Alfred," replied Bruce.

This is one the greatest animated movies ever to be produced. Unlike many other entries in the Batman film series, Mask of the Phantasm has an intriguing, cohesive, satisfying story; as well as well executed animation, layouts, and phenomenal character designs. While the film doesn't do much to develop the characters as it could have but then again who doesn't know Batman?

The plot deals with a murder mystery and a case of mistaken identity. The Phantasm, a mysterious new presence in Gotham, is killing mob bosses and the dimwitted Gothamites have mistaken this new vigilante for Batman. A few mitigating circumstances later Batman finds himself being pursued by the Gotham Police.

One of the best aspects of this film is that, for the first time, the animated Joker gets to have victims. Up until now, this version of the Batman mythos had been confined to television and although always an intelligent and groundbreaking series it was limited by the rules of all children's programming, namely nobody could die. This Joker, a ruthless killer, a great evil which takes pleasure taking life could not commit murder or even draw blood. This might sound a tad psychotic but personally I was happy to see Joker finally do what he did best.

As with the series, the art and animation of Mask of the Phantasm is striking and evocative. The art demo style of the series is even more impressive in the cinematic forum. It's a shame that more animated films of such intelligence and maturity aren't produced for the theater. The Dark Knight hasn't been captured accurately in live action yet (though Batman Begins looks to be trying to prove that statement wrong). There just are certain aspects of Batman, the larger-than-life exploits and personalities, which don't translate well when dealing with Hollywood. While this Batman is not the definitive version, it is the closest thing we have in terms of capturing the spirit of the comic books.

It seems that every adaption of Batman needs to retell and revamp the origin of where Batman came from. As the story goes, Bruce was inspired to dom the costume of a bat when one came crashing through the window of his fathers study. This powerful piece of imagery served Frank Miller well and added to the mythic quality of the Dark Knight. Mask chose to tackle this aspect and alter it to fit in with their portrayal of Bruce's relationship with Andrea. In this version, a huge spire of bats spiraling up from a cave below Wayne Manor replaces the single bat. Bruce, in love with Andrea, asks her to marry him, she accepts but it forced to flee and leaves Bruce a note "Left with Dad... too young... forget about me," returning the engagement ring she was given. Cut to Bruce in the Batcave donning his costume for the first time. This didn't play right; by tieing in the lost romance to the origin story, the writers put a reactionary spin on the decision to become Batman. It seems as though losing Andrea was the driving cause behind taking up the mantle and not to avenge the murder of his parents. Becoming Batman just became trivial.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is a monumental film filled with unforgettable scenes, wonderful art, a superb, evocative score, and an unbelievably moving ending that shows, without words, just how strong a man Batman is and how powerful animation can be. Most important of all though was that this was a Batman movie about Batman.

Added: September 21st 2004
Reviewer: Andromaton
Related Link: Buy Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
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  Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Posted by anthonyfiddy2 on 2014-06-09 03:41:53
My Score:

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  Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Posted by darkness88 on 2005-07-07 15:14:34
My Score:

Great movie. Great review. Batman would be proud.

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