Batman: Mask of the Phantasm Review | Movie Review

Beauty and the Best

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm Review


December 4th marks the release of the third Christopher Nolan Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises for home release. It was a film met with mixed reactions from viewers though I don't think anyone would say that this was the best Batman movie ever. So then which one is? Many would reply its prequel The Dark Knight or Tim Burton's 1989 Batman as their answer and while both are very well made & enjoyable films I would have a different answer. Instead, I would say the often overlooked Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is in fact, the best Batman movie ever.

Released in 1993, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is part of the Batman: The Animated Series canon, which was already known for its mature storytelling, unique art design that painted on black paper instead of white paper to give the art deco Gotham City's night the long shadows it was known for, as well as its excellent voice work from actors like Kevin Conroy as Batman or Star Wars' Mark Hamill as The Joker. These two actor's performances proved to be so iconic that they both continued to provide their interpretations up until most recently 2011's hit game Batman: Arkham City and thankfully both are cast in this film.

All the elements that made the TV series so great are kept in place for this movie and it uses every moment of its running time to tell an excellent tale about Batman's origins as the Batman, a mysterious new vigilante called The Phantasm who is killing criminals for which Batman is being blamed and even some parts revealing of the enigmatic Joker's history before he became The Joker.

Also I should mention the incredible score composed by Shirley Walker who not only did a great job emulating the style set by Danny Elfman for the 1989 film but in many ways surpasses even him in setting the tone for Batman. Both epic and melancholy, her music will echo in the back of your head for hours or days after hearing it.  I find it leagues more appropriate than Hans Zimmer's frenetic drums used in the most recent films.

So why may have you not heard of this film if it's so great? Unfortunately it was released around the same time as Tim Burton's sequel 
Batman Returns so many people maligned this as the child friendly version of Batman. I assure you that is not true in the slightest. This is in every way the superior Batman movie and there are several ways for you to now watch it for yourself. It has been released to DVD both on its own and as part of a combo pack with the straight to video Batman & Mr. Freeze SubZero, along with your usual digital distribution services. For all you Batman lovers and especially those disappointed by The Dark Knight Rises, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is definitely something to see.

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