Dash Reviews…Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm

   Hey kids, it’s Dash Jordan here. Hope you guys enjoyed your Thanksgiving. I certainly did, but now it’s time to get busy. I’m sorry, but I just need to get something off my chest. You know what I can’t stand? DC Comics.

   Look, I used to be a fan of both Marvel and DC growing up. But you know what? DC and Warner Bros. just can’t seem to deliver. Oh, what are you going to do? Pull the ‘Dark Knight Trilogy’ out of your rear end? So we’re just gonna ignore ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, ‘Man Of Steel’, ‘Green Lantern’, Ben Affleck being cast as Batman, that one chick from one of those stupid ‘Fast & Furious’ movies being cast as Wonder Woman, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, the studio obviously rushing to get to the Justice League movie just so they can catch up with Marvel Studios, AND an Aquaman movie? An AQUAMAN movie?!? You’re doing a friggin’ Aquaman movie before you do a new Batman movie? Oh, and speaking of which, Jared Leto’s Joker looks like a Meth addict trying a bad Heath Ledger impersonation. Are you guys just trolling us right now? This is why Marvel Studios is kicking your asses! You guys only have one superhero that people still care about, it’s Batman and you know it! That’s right, I said it! Whatcha gonna do about it?!?

…okay, fine! You’re still the king of animated features. There, I said it.

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‘Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm’ is a 1993 animated film based on ‘Batman: The Animated Series’. Essentially, the movie is a big-budget and theatrical episode of the show as it was made by the same creators and starred the same voice actors. Unfortunately, the film was a box office bomb despite tons of positive feedback from critics and fans alike. Since the film’s released, it has been regarded as a cult classic and is considered to be one of, if not, the greatest Batman film ever made…well, it is.

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   Sorry, Michael. You are THE best live-action Batman…but Kevin Conroy IS Batman.

   Anyway, as far as the plot goes, this is probably one of the most engaging and beautifully-written Batman stories out there. ‘Mask Of The Phantasm’ follows Batman as he is blamed for the murders of some of Gotham’s crime bosses, which were actually caused by a similar-looking yet murderous new vigilante; The Phantasm.

   To top it off, we also see Bruce Wayne delve into his past when an old love returns to Gotham City. Of course, you can’t have a Batman movie without someone from the most memorable Rogues gallery in comic book history, so thrown into the mix of this murder-mystery along with Batman is none other than The Clown Prince Of Crime himself, The Joker.

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Right now, it doesn’t sound like I’m doing the plot any justice. But, that’s because I do not want to spoil it for any poor unfortunate souls out there who haven’t watch this movie yet. If you’re still not convinced, I will say that the movie has another thing going for it; the animation. Some people may not consider ‘Mask Of The Phantasm’ as an actual “movie”, let alone an actual Batman “movie” because it’s a cartoon. Personally, I’ll have to disagree with some of those people. Film is an art form, especially animation. Bruce Timm and his team from “The Animated Series” created the most iconic look of the Batman franchise ever. From the Dark Knight himself, to his villains, the side characters, and the very city of Gotham itself is simply gorgeous. Speaking of which, we also have the film’s amazing score from the late, great Shirley Walker.

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R.I.P. Shirley Walker(1945-2006)

I just want to say that Shirley Walker has always been one of my personal favorites, an incredibly talented composer who was taken away from us WAY too soon. As I’m writing this, it would be exactly nine years since her passing. What better way to honor her than to mention the awesome music she’s done for this movie? While she has worked with fellow composer Danny Elfman and incorporated his iconic theme from 1989’s ‘Batman’ for the music in ‘The Animated Series’, Walker would later go on to create her own original theme for the show, which was rewritten and used to its full potential in ‘Mask Of The Phantasm’ and in my opinion, it rivals and nearly surpasses Danny Elfman’s theme.

The last thing I want to mention about this movie is the voice acting. As I’ve mentioned before, pretty much the whole cast and crew from ‘The Animated Series’ were on board, and the acting has never been better. I’ve already talked about Kevin Conroy’s amazing performance as Bruce Wayne AND Batman. Yes, I know they’re the same person, I’m not stupid. But Conroy does it in a way where they literally are two different people. Trust me, there’s a lot more to it than just making your voice deeper. Kevin Conroy is what you think of when you think of the voice of Batman, as he continues to voice the character in other animated features and video games today. Now, I’m not going to mention EVERY character because most of them are already featured in the show. If you know the show, then you know the voices. Conroy is only one of the standout performances in this feature, of course. I mean, seriously…do I even need to mention Luke friggin’ Skywalker as The Joker? Much like Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson is still my favorite live-action Joker. But, Mark Hamill IS The Joker!

   The new addition to the cast is Dana Delany as Andrea Beaumont; Bruce Wayne’s ex-fiance. What makes this character stand out so much more than the other love interests from the live-action movies is that she’s more than just another romantic foil for Batman. Andrea is a very complex and emotional character, and she’s fully realized by Dana Delany’s performance; which is why she would later return to the DC universe as the voice of Lois Lane in ‘Superman: The Animated Series’. Andrea Beaumont is by far, my favorite of the many women of Bruce Wayne’s life. She’s not written to be some screaming damsel like Vicki Vale from ‘Batman’, or some repetitive sex joke like Chase Meridian from ‘Batman Forever’. Instead, Andrea is written as a human being with real feelings.

  I’m pretty sure this is the longest review of a movie I’ve done so far. I’m not ashamed to admit it, I’ve waited a long time to review this. Even with its cult following, I feel that a lot of people are still missing out on this fantastic movie. My one regret in life is not catching it when it was in theaters, even if the marketing wasn’t all that great to begin with. I wish I could’ve been one of the lucky few to have seen this movie when it came out. I highly recommend this movie to…everyone! The story, the voice-acting, the animation, the music, everything is absolutely beautiful. There should be no reason why you haven’t seen this movie yet. This is a perfect animated movie. I stand by what I’ve said, kids. ‘Mask Of The Phantasm’ isn’t just the best Batman movie of all time, it’s one of my favorite movies of all time!

But Marvel still kicks DC’s ass in everything else.

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“Thou snarky one speaks the truth!”

   Damn right, God of Thunder and Rock & Roll! Until next time, Gotta Dash!

Rating: 10/10

Written by Shane Moose

Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm(owned by Warner Bros., Warner Bros. Animation & Warner Bros. Family Entertainment)

Batman: The Animated Series(owned by Warner Bros. Animation & Warner Bros. Television Distribution)

Man Of Steel(owned by Warner Bros. Pictures, DC Entertainment, Legendary Pictures & Syncopy)

Guardians Of The Galaxy(owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures & Marvel Studios)

Night Shift(owned by Warner Bros. & The Ladd Company)

Thor(owned by Paramount Pictures & Marvel Studios)

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