Batman - Mask of the Phantasm is one of the best productions to come from producers Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, following the first season of Batman - The Animated Series. The animation here is solid, the voice acting is some of the best around, and of course the story is enough to keep any fan of the series concentrated. This may be a cartoon, but in no ways is it a film generated specifically for the entertainment of children (mature themes are given, though not directly).
Batman finds himself in a web of love, murder, and ghosts of his past as a vigilante known as the Phantasm kills the city's mob bosses, and due to this being's tattered black cape The Dark Knight finds himself bearing the blame of the ghoulish figure's actions. On the run from the law, Bruce Wayne also has a blast from the past comes to further complicate his already challenging social life. Andrea Beaumont had almost been the force preventing Bruce from pulling on the cowl as the love of his life, and was set to marry, except Andrea ran out on him at the last minute, and now she has returned, rekindling past flames, causing him to question himself yet again.
Switching back and forth between the main story, and flashbacks to the caped crusader's beginnings, Batman tries desperately to prove his innocence and expose the Phantasm. Along the way a desperate mob leader, Chuckie Sol, scared that "Batman" will "crucify" him crosses the line, bring our hero's arch rival, the insane Joker, into the mix of things, which can only spell trouble for all of Gotham City. This leads to a spectacular fight between Batman and his manic foe in the ruins of the Gotham World's Fair, and Batman's ultimate revelation of the importance of Batman to the people, and why he has always been meant to lead a life alone.
The animation in this picture is fantastic; it's traditional animation at its very best. The scenery, the settings, everything in here is visually captivating. The way Batman slinks, and moves through the shadows, and the way Joker seems to move like an overinflated cartoon character helps capture the characters even more than the dialogue, and that's why I love this animation team. They know how to put a character on the screen, and they know how to make everything they do in this picture WORK. If this was a silent cartoon you could easily tell the nature of the characters simply by expressions and movements. In fact I HAVE watched this film on mute, and can instantly recognize the quirks and style of the characters. Movements alone, you can tell Batman is a troubled, and wants to be alone, that Bruce Wayne is in a constant state of grief from his parents' murder, and The Joker you can instantly recognize a deranged lunatic who doesn't have a care in the world.
This brings us to voice-acting, and Kevin Conroy shows us why he has been titled the definitive voice of the character for over a decade. Every single voice here is well done, the only shaky one probably lying in the voice of City Councilmen Arthur Reeves. Voice acting is often under minded, but in Batman - The Animated Series they did their best without even hiring a superstar.
Of course, there's still one that needs to be listed above all others, and that is Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) as the Joker. Like Heath Ledger in 2008's `The Dark Knight' Mark Hamill is someone who totally loses himself in the role, providing the most iconic portrayal of the character in Batman history (He's been the voice for over ten years, and still has upcoming projects). When he plays this character he pours all his energy into it, providing a voice that many viewers will not forget (Hamill's voice is always the one I hear when reading The Joker). You can tell Hamill is someone who loves comics, and loves this character to death.
This film is worth a view by any fan of Batman, and is probably a great follow-up to the animated series if you want to expose a child to the dark nature of the series (I recommend Batman - The Animated Series for kids 8 and up and this movie for when they hit 10). This is a great film for adults, though not as violent as the live-action films, the emotional level of the story is spectacular.
A solid 9/10 stars for an all around pleasing film
In 1992, Batman The Animated Series came around and changed just about everything we knew about animated television shows. Especially those based off comic books. The show itself has left a much bigger legacy than anyone could remember, including being commonly referred to as the greatest animated television series ever made. It's a shame then that the movie it spawned never achieved that same amount of attention or acclaim. Batman Mask of the Phantasm came out into theaters … more
Despite being less-known than the Batman movies directed by Tim Burton, Joel Shumacher, and Christopher Nolan, I think Batman: Mask of the Phantasm beats all of them (especially the Schumacher movies, which are needless to say, blights to cinema). Being made by the same geniuses that created Batman: The Animated Series, all the strokes of genius in that show have carried over into this film. Just about everything in this movie is perfect, whether it be … more
This remains for me one of the best Batman films ever made. The film ties in with the first season of Batman: The Animated Series, but it also has some clever references and allusions to the first two Tim Burton films as well as some of the Batman comics (most notably Batman: Year One). The tone is pretty dark and there's a bit more action and violence than one might expect to find in a PG film, but I think that for most fans, myself included, that this is part of what made the film … more
I missed this movie when it first came out. Within the last few years, I've gotten back into watching my favorite cartoons from my childhood. Batman: TAS is one of them. I've seen all the other animated movies on Cartoon Network (Subzero, Mystery of the Batwoman, Gotham Knight, Return of the Joker). This is, by far, the best. The story line is compelling & the animation is top notch. We get to see a young Bruce Wayne as he begins his career as Batman. Very interesting. … more
When the city's most feared gangsters are systematically eliminated, the Caped Crusader is blamed. But prowling the Gotham night is a shadowy new villain, the Phantasm, a sinister figure with some link to Batman's past. Can the Dark Knight elude the police, capture the Phantasm and clear his name?
Unmasking the Phantasm is just one of the twists in this dazzling animated feature. Discover all-new revelations about Batman's past, his archrival the Joker and Batman's most grueling battle ever - the choice between his love of a beautiful woman and his vow to be the defender of right. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is a "mystery that is genuinely absorbing, suspenseful and moving" (Cincinnati Enquirer).