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Releases - DVDs - Double Feature: Sub-Zero and Mask of the Phantasm

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Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video
Street Date: February 12, 2008
Announce Date: January 2, 2008
MSRP: $14.97
Run Time: 143 minutes
Package Type: Amaray Case
Aspect Ratio(s):
Original Aspect Ratio - 1.33 Standard [4:3 Transfer]

Audio
English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)

Edition Details:
• Encoding: Region 1
• Animated, Color
Description: Warner Home Video (WHV) and DC Comics will release the Batman Double Feature DVD which contains two feature length animated made-for-video movies to DVD for one value price – a first time for Batman! The Batman Double Feature DVD will be available on February 12, 2008 for $14.97 SRP. Order due date is January 8, 2008.

Batman and Mr. Freeze: Sub Zero is a breathtaking animated adventure that explodes into action when the villainous Mr. Freeze kidnaps Batgirl. Now, racing the clock, Batman and Robin face off against Mr. Freeze in the iciest showdown of the century. Batman Mask of Phantasm was called “one of the most imaginative films of the past year” by Chuck Rich (Westwood One). Only here will you discover all-new revelations about Batman’s past, his archrival the Joker and the most grueling battle of Batman’s life – the choice between his love of a beautiful woman and his vow to be the defender of right.

Note: At this time it is believed that this release is just the previous individual releases of Sub-Zero and Mask of the Phantasm combined.

Review
The original Batman: The Animated Series remains one of America’s most wildly praised and award winning cartoons of the past several decades and the two films contained on this latest Warner Home Video release are two shining examples of what the show was able to accomplish. Unfortunately for the fans expecting an all-new DVD release will be so severely disappointed in this recent release, it’s not even funny. There are so many confusing things to talk about on this DVD release that I don’t know where to begin.

In terms of the films contained on this disc, you’ll find two of the greatest stories told in the BTAS universe. Despite what the order of the DVD would tell you, Mask of the Phantasm is actually the first of the two and the more “mature.” Originally released in theaters on Christmas of 1993, Mask of the Phantasm opened to critical praise that an animated film had not seen in American theaters prior. Not that it helped—its eventual box office intake was low and it was quickly shooed from theaters. I can remember watching my VHS copy so frequently that by the time I had bought the DVD of it, I thought it was the most wonderful format in the world because the image was so clear (and now the transfer included on this DVD and the last Mask of the Phantasm releases are some of the dirtiest animation transfers I’ve seen).

For SubZero I actually rented the Space Jam VHS just to watch the trailer for it and I frequently called up my local WB Studio Store to inquire about the release date for the film. Perhaps it was because I was ten at the time, but the employees never seemed to tire of answering my calls. I can’t recall how many times I called them or why I thought the studio store would know to begin with, but I was ten so I can’t claim to have had any real train of thought. Even weirder is that once the movie finally did come out, I was so stingy with what little allowance I had saved up that I didn’t want to buy the film until I had seen it first, to see if it was something I really wanted to see over and over. I waited an additional two to three months before my local library got a copy in. My hold was finally called, but being sick, I was unable to pick it up. After a short walk by my family to go pick up the video, I was finally able to pop it into the VCR and with a box of Kleenex in hand (for my cold, not because I was going to cry) I proceeded to watch one of the best animated stories from the series I’d seen.

In retrospect SubZero isn’t the groundbreaking film my ten year old self thought it was, but it was certainly a great story nonetheless. These two films, the only feature length pictures that Warner Bros. Animation produced for BTAS, are a great example of the quality that came out of the series, what with its deep, dramatic and emotional characters. Mask of the Phantasm to this day remains one of my childhood and adulthood favorites and kids and adults can enjoy the film on their own levels. It’s a great story for the Dark Knight and when paired with the traumatic story of Mr. Freeze’s life in SubZero, this single disc set makes for a fair pairing.

Yes, you read that right. Single disc. While initially thought to be a two-disc release of the previous releases for the films, Warner Home Video has pressed a whole new flipper disc for this DVD release, putting SubZero on one side and Mask of the Phantasm on the other (featuring the films fullscreen transfer). Also confusing is the DVDs packaging that puts SubZero before Mask of the Phantasm in nearly every respect.

The rear art simply smashes too much information about the two films in a little spot, with the run time for the films being warped around the PG rating. They don’t make any mention that SubZero is actually unrated either, not that it really matters…just a strange omission. Then again I don’t know where they’d shove that information; the rear jacket is packed enough as is.

He two sides of the discs are complete duplicates of the original releases and contain nothing new. Exact same menus and exact same video transfers. They could’ve taken the time to hunt down that 5.1 surround track for SubZero that was released on LaserDisc and tossed it on here, but that’s not what this release was meant for. A quick cash in on the ever growing popularity of one of comic books most famous heroes. Here’s hoping we’ll see a more worthy release for Mask of the Phantasm come it’s twentieth anniversary (this year saw it’s fifteenth—while there’s still time to celebrate it, considering it came out on Christmas Day, I’m doubtful we’ll get anything this year).

For those that don’t already own these two films, it’s a cheap alternative to buying two different DVD releases, but for those that already have these two releases it’s a definite downgrade. Not only do you have to still deal with a flipper disc, you lose the widescreen transfer of Mask of the Phantasm. Not a huge loss considering the film was animated in fullscreen, but still. This is really just a cash cow release that, one can hope, was just released to check the interest in these two films to see if future special editions are warranted. Let’s all hope for a Phantasm special edition to coincide with The Dark Knight DVD release, shall we?

Those that don’t own the films: Recommended.
Already Own the Films: Big, fat Skip It.
 

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