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Batman - Mask of the Phantasm: The Animated Movie
Original Release Date - December 25th, 1993 - Theatrical Release

When Gotham City's most-feared gangsters are systematically eliminated, the worst is feared: that Batman is to blame. But prowling the Gotham night is a shadowy new villain, the Phantasm, a sinister figure with a troublesome link to Batman's past. 

Media by Bird Boy
Reviews (1999) by Emmanuel Papillon, Jim Harvey

Click here to view the movie poster!

Story by Alan Burnett
Screenplay by Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Martin Pasko, Michael Reaves
Edited by Al Breitenbach
Produced by Benjamin Melniker, Michael Uslan
Co-Producers Alan Burnett, Eric Radomski, Bruce W. Timm
Executive Producer Tom Ruegger
Directed by Eric Radomski and Bruce W. Timm
Music by Shirley Walker
Animation by Dong Yang Animation, Inc., Spectrum Animation Studio

Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne / Batman
Dana Delany as Andrea Beaumont
Hart Bochner as Arthur Reeves
Stacy Keach, Jr. as Phantasm and Carl Beaumont
Abe Vigoda as Salvatore Valestra
Dick Miller as Chuckie Sol
John P. Ryana s Buzz Bronski
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Alfred
Bob Hastings as Commissioner Gordon
Robert Costanzo as Detective Bullock
Mark Hamill as The Joker
Arleen Sorkin as Bambi (Uncredited)
Jane Downs as Additional Voice
Pat Musick as Additional Voice
Vernee Watson-Johnson as Additional Voice
Ed Gilbert as Additional Voice
Peter Renaday as Additional Voice
Jeff Bennett as Additional Voice
Charles Howarton as Additional Voice
Thom Pinto as Additional Voice
Marilu Henner as Additional Voice
Neil Ross as Additional Voice

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REEVES (on TV): What kind of city are we running when we depend on the support of a potential MADMAN ?
ALFRED: Such rot, sir. Why, you're the very model of sanity. Oh, by the way, I pressed your tights and put away your exploding gas balls.
BRUCE: Thank you, Alfred.
ANDREA (from visiting her mother's grave): So tell me, with all that money and power, why do you always look like you want to jump off a cliff ?
BRUCE: Why should you care ?
ANDREA: I don't. Mother was asking.
BRUCE (as vigilante): On your stomachs, arms spread !
THIEF: Who's this clown ?
ANDREA: Nice footwork. Can you dance too ?
HIGHSPEAKER VOICE: Welcome to the Gotham's world fair, a dream of the future. A bright tomorrow filled with hope and promise for all mankind. This is a vision of the shimmering utopia where we shall all spend the rest of our lives.
ANDREA (calling her father): You're sure about this ?
BRUCE: Sure, I'm sure. (In Alfred's ear) What am I doing, Alfred ? This isn't part of the plan ! I must be going nuts !
ALFRED: If I may make so bold, Master Bruce, I'd say quite the reverse.
BRUCE (to his parents' grave): It doesn't mean I don't care anymore. I don't want to let you down, honest, but... but it just doesn't hurt so bad anymore. You can understand that, can't you ? Look, I can give money to the city to hire more cops. Let's someone else take the risk, it's different now !
BRUCE: Please. I need it to be different now. I know I made a promise, but I didn't see this coming. I didn't count on being happy.
REEVES: I suppose you could demand Police protection.
VALESTRA: What are you, a comedian ? This is the Batman we're talking about. A freak job !
BATMAN: Sal's having company tonight. Don't wait up.
ALFRED: Meaning, I trust that once you're done with him, you'll be seeing her ?
BATMAN: You think you know everything about me, don't you ?
ALFRED: I diapered your bottom, I bloody well ought to. . . SIR !
JOKER: I hate that song.
JOKER: You know, I've been reading lately how old guano-man is wound tight enough to snap. Wouldn't it be great if I'd finally driven him off the deep end ? HAHAHAHA !!!
VALESTRA: This isn't a joke ! Batman's knocking us off, and you're the only one who take him down ! Look, five millions up front, with whatever you want to finish him off !
JOKER: YAAAAWWN. What do I look like, pest control ?
BATMAN: You still follow your dad's orders ?
ANDREA: The way I see it, the only one in this room controlled by his parents is you.
REEVES (speaking on phone): You're telling me there were four precincts on Batman's heels and he still got away ?
REEVES: Unbelievable !
JOKER (at the door): Tsk, tsk. And to think our tax money goes to pay those jerks.
JOKER: I'm impressed, lady. You're harder to kill than a cockroach on steroids.
JOKER: You're crazy ! I'm your only chance to get out of here ! Let me go or we both die !
BATMAN: Whatever it takes !
ALFRED: Vengeance blackens the soul, Bruce. I always feared you would become that which you fought against. You walked the edge of that abyss every night, but you haven't fallen in and I thank Heaven for that. But Andrea fell into that pit years ago, and no one, not even you, could have pulled her back.

Review (by Emmanuel Papillon): Now, this is what Batman is all about ! The BTAS team obviously wanted to make a classic with that movie, and they succeeded. Every important Batman theme is there : the 1940 mood, the gangster atmosphere, the gigantic town, the corruption, and vengeance as a main subject. A lot of theme found in such great stories as The Dark Knight Returns, such as the "anti-bat" campaign, or the cops trying to get the Batman at any cost, were also there, in a perfect consistency all along the movie. It's dark, it's strong, it's what BTAS have accustomed us to.

The scenes taking place in the past were very cleverly written. Bruce's first night as a vigilante was fun and interesting to watch, because we clearly see he's not Batman yet, he's not yet as dark and bitter as he'll be later. In fact, the whole movie is about the loss of hope and the darkening of the future, and in that sense it reminds the best Franck Miller scripts. Watching Bruce and Andrea at the end arguing in the ruins of their past happiness is very moving.

Andrea Beaumont's character happens to be one of the most moving and well-written characters of BTAS. Her expressions, dialogue and the fact that she was probably Bruce's best chance of leading a happy life conveys a lot of feelings for her. Her story with Bruce sounds indeed very serious and realistic - unlike his romance stories with Kyle or Talia which were more physical than long-lasting.

Bruce's obsession and hesitations between Batman and Andrea also fit perfectly with his character. In fact, Mask of the Phantasm describes what really made the Batman of BTAS what he is. There was the death of his parents, of course, but he didn't really give up happiness and Bruce Wayne to become Batman until Andrea left him.

The Joker is also well written, and appears like he really is, that is more like a sadistic killer having his fun than a psychotic clown. He's really scary, too, especially during his scene with Reeves, he's menacing and not funny at all. There's even a short scene with Velestra where we wonder if all that Joker thing with all its theatrical effects isn't an act to escape justice by pleading insanity.

Alas, the animation wasn't always on the same level than the story. It was very uneven, some scenes and effects were very nice, like the smoke surrounding the Phantasm or most of the flashback scenes, and the end was also impressive, but some ordinary scenes were just horrible. The Joker was always changing shape during his first appearance with Valestra, the background characters always seemed a bit stiff, and there were some big continuity design problems - like Valestra's smile with pink gum on one shot and no gum on the next one. All in all, between its bright and poor moments, it deserves four stars, though... and the whole movie well deserves its five stars!

Review (by Jim Harvey): Fans of "Batman: The Animated Series" should love "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm." Unlike director Tim Burton's live-action "Batman" films, this animated feature actually puts the emphasis on the Dark Knight rather than the still-colorful villains. It's kind of a kitchen-sink "Batman" tale - his past, present and future are all mixed into a brew full of angst and action. This movie has a lot of factors which should make it totally enjoyable to fans. We got classic action, as well as a new villains who looks to be a complete bad-ass, which is pretty. It's nice to see a villain who doesn't pull his punches for a change.

"Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" features the look of the current animated television show - an alluring "Dark Deco" - and was produced and animated by the same team. The animation fits as well on the big screen as it does on the small TV screen. While the animation is exactly the same as it is on the show, it seems more...enhanced, or something, here on MOTP. There's just something about the story and about the animation that makes it seem bigger than life.

As much for adults as for children, this "Batman" is basically a film noir with a haunting love story and edgy suspense.
"Mask of the Phantasm" blends nicely with the "Batman" mythology that began with Bob Kane's creations for DC Comics. Billionaire Bruce Wayne (voice of Kevin Conroy) - who fights crime disguised as Batman - is puzzled when underworld figures start getting bumped off. Witnesses describe the killer as a hooded, caped figure - possibly Batman. Intent on clearing his alter ego's name, Bruce studies evidence for clues to the true identity of this mysterious Phantasm.

Meanwhile, the lonely Dark Knight is thrown into turmoil when his long-lost love, Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delany), suddenly returns to town. Bruce hasn't seen Andrea since she broke their engagement a decade ago. This little plot is a nice addition to the Batman mythos. While we're used to seeing Batman as this cold unforgiving figure, it's nice to see his alter ego getting in on some of the action, and story time. As wel delve into his past, we can actually feel his pain in some flashbacks, and frustration.

Although the story isn't exactly packed with surprises, it is efficiently plotted. At 70-odd minutes, it doesn't feel much longer than a television show, but it accomplishes a lot in a short time. This movie is able to provide the viewer with a lot of information in a short time, but doesn't make the movie feel congested and too quick. The pace is pretty good in this movie. A bit iffy in places here and there, but overall the pace is well done. This movie has it all: an intriguing plot, interesting dialogue, rapid-fire action and good characterization. It also shows you can have two costumed villains in the movie and still have the whole story center around BATMAN (take note, future directors: it all goes back to a GOOD STORY that doesn't assume the audience has the intelligence and attention span of a six-year-old hopped up on sugar and caffeine.) I know I've said it already and will likely repeat it adnausuem, but the voice actors here are great!

The story is able to build itself up to the inevitable showdown, as well as the many twists which will no doubt be littered throughout the movie.

It's interesting to note that Mark Hamill - who as Luke Skywalker in the "Star Wars" trilogy was upstaged by Han Solo and aliens - does the voice of the Joker (as on the series) but still can't steal the show from Batman. No one can. Kevin Conroy just has the perfect voice for Batamn. He is able to change his voice between Bruce and Batman personas, and that really emphasis the change of the characters. Of course, it also brings up the question of who really is the mask and who is the alter-ego. He's even able to make his voice a bit higher in the flashbacks scenes, which is barely noticeable, although a nice effect.

The best things about "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" are the slim but sure slices of sophisticated dialogue and fantastic chemistry between Conroy's Bruce and Delany's Andrea. It's odd how the live-action Bruce Wayne's chemistry is as cold as ice, but animated, it seems just boils over! Conroy deliver a great job on their roles, and it shows. But honestly, that's only a small part of what this fantastic movie has to offer. If you're a Batman fan, this movie is a required viewing.

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