BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM / BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SubZero [1993 / 1998 / 2018] [Blu-ray] [US Release] Twice The Fight: 2 Feature-Length Dark Knight Adventures on one Blu-ray!

Cold-blooded crime comes to Gotham City: Ultra-cool style and excitement reign in the theatrical feature ‘BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM’ where we meet a hunted criminal named...Batman. Accused of murders carried out by a sinister masked figure, Batman is determined to clear his name. And that sets in motion a menacing, multi-layered tale filled with surprising revelations about our caped hero’s past. Expect the unexpected in “a mystery that is genuinely absorbing, suspenseful and moving” (Cincinnati Enquirer). Arch villain Mr. Freeze kidnaps Batgirl, and the Dark Knight and Robin scramble to rescue her before she’s forever iced in the animated chiller-thriller animated film ‘BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SubZero.’

BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM Voice Cast: Kevin Conroy [Batman], Dana Delany [Andrea Beaumont], Stacy Keach [Phantasm / Carl Beaumont], Abe Vigoda [Salvatore Valestra], Dick Miller [Chuckie Sol], John P. Ryan [Buzz Bronski], Efrem Zimbalist Jr. [Alfred], Robert Hastings [Commissioner Gordon], Robert Costanzo [Detective Bullock], Mark Hamill [The Joker], Jane Downs [Additional Voices], Pat Musick [Additional Voices], Vernee Watson-Johnson [Additional Voices], Ed Gilbert [Additional Voices], Peter Renaday [Additional Voices], Jeff Bennett [Additional Voices], Charles Howerton [Additional Voices], Thom Pinto  [Additional Voices], Marilu Henner [Additional Voices],Neil Ross [Additional Voices], Judi M. Durand [World of the Future Fair announcer] (uncredited) and Arleen Sorkin [Ms. Bambi] (uncredited)

Directors: Boyd Kirkland, Bruce W. Timm, Dan Riba, Eric Radomski, Frank Paur and Kevin Altieri

Producers: Alan Burnett, Benjamin Melniker, Bruce W. Timm, Eric Radomski, Michael E. Uslan and Tom Ruegger

Screenplay: Alan Burnett (story/screenplay), Bob Kane (Batman creation), Martin Pasko (screenplay), Michael Reaves (screenplay) and Paul Dini (screenplay)

Composer: Shirley Walker

Cinematography: Sung-Il Choi (Director of Photography)

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BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SubZero Voice Cast: Kevin Conroy [Bruce Wayne/Batman], Michael Ansara [Dr. Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze], Loren Lester [Dick Grayson/Robin], Efrem Zimbalist Jr. [Alfred Pennyworth], George Dzundza [Dr. Gregory Belson], Robert Costanzo [Detective Harvey Bullock], Robert Hastings [Commissioner James 'Jim' Gordon], Mary Kay Bergman [Barbara Gordon/Batgirl], Marilu Henner [Veronica Vreeland], Dean Jones [Dean Arbagast], Mari Devon [WGBS Reporter Summer Gleeson], Liane Schirmer [Lieutenant Renee Montoya], Rahi Azizi [Koonak], Neil Ross [Police Officers/TV Announcer/Sub Crewmember/Radio Weatherman], Lauren Tom [Mariko], Townsend Coleman [Additional Voices], Brian George [Additional Voices], Ed Gilbert [Additional Voices], Carl Lumbly [Additional Voices], Tress MacNeille [Additional Voices] and Randy Thompson [Additional Voices]

Director: Boyd Kirkland

Producers: Benjamin Melniker, Boyd Kirkland, Haven Alexander, Michael E. Uslan and Randy Rogel

Screenplay: Bob Kane (Batman creation), Boyd Kirkland (writer) and Randy Rogel (writer)

Composer: Michael McCuistion

Image Resolution: 1080p and 1080i (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 and 1.37:1

Audio: English: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: English

Running Time: 76 minutes and 66 minutes

Region: All Regions

Number of discs: 2

Studio: Warner Bros. Animation / Warner Archive Collection

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: With the awesome release of ‘BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM’ and ‘BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SubZero’ Double Blu-ray Feature Film Collection release, it’s a good time to look back at the Batman animated film phenomenon. Batman was first portrayed by Lewis Wilson and Robert Lowery in 1940s serials, where Batman didn’t achieve major mainstream popularity until the 1960s TV series and movie starring Adam West in the aforementioned role.

A year after the TV series first premiered, a theatrical spin-off was released in the guise of ‘BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM,’ was hastily released to critical acclaim but was a box-office failure, which of course didn’t even make back its budget. Then in 1998 came a new direct-to-video release ‘BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SubZero’ proved to be a refreshing change of pace from the Schumacher films and received critical acclaim, winning an Annie Award for “Best Animated Home Entertainment Production” in 1998. Despite the animated series and films might now be forgotten or wrongfully given the annoying label as “kiddie-fare.” This, of course, would be wrong. So with Batman now back in the loop and of public awareness, what better time to see the amazing character’s popularity to shine a light on two lesser known animated titles. So here folks are a synopsis of the two said animated Batman films, now read on.

‘BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM’ [1993] finds Batman, the costumed crime-fighter who prowls the night skies in Gotham City, soon finds there's another vigilante in town knocking off prominent mob figures. Despite the scythe-like blade for a hand, a mechanical voice and the cloud of smoke that follows the figure wherever it goes, the police and outraged officials mistake the homicidal crusader for Batman himself and demand that the city's long-time hero be brought to justice. Meanwhile, Andrea Beaumont returns to town. She is the lost love of Bruce Wayne, the billionaire playboy who is Batman's alter ego, and was an integral part of Bruce Wayne's decision ten years earlier to don the cape and cowl. Now, she is back in his life and is no less a disruption than the return of his old archenemy, The Joker, who has a stake in seeing the annihilation of this new vigilante, whoever it proves to be.

An old flame of Bruce Wayne’s strolls into town, and starts re-heating the romance between the two. At the same time, a mass murderer with an axe for one hand begins systematically eliminating Gotham’s crime bosses. Due to the person’s dark appearance, he is mistaken for Batman. So Batman is now on the run, and Batman must solve the mystery and deal with the romance between him and Andrea Beaumont.

The dark knight is now in serious trouble with the police, accused of being dangerous and unpredictable. Hunted wherever he goes, so Batman must solve the mystery of the Phantasm to stop the killing and regain his reputation. Meanwhile old wounds are opened as Andrea Beaumont whom Bruce Wayne had had a serious love affair with in the past, returns to the city. Memories of the past are now preying on Bruce's mind, memories of a time before Batman where Bruce was drawn between happiness and the promise he made to his parents. The mystery of the Phantasm is really putting Batman's skills to the test as the police slowly draw in with no mercy. The answer to it all that have been perpetrated somewhere in the past of both Bruce Wayne and another deadly foe, The Joker, who has a stake in seeing the annihilation of this new vigilante.

Can the Dark Knight elude the police, capture the Phantasm and clear his own name? Unmasking the Phantasm is just one of the twists in this dazzling animated feature. Discover revelations about Batman's past, his arch-rival the Joker and Batman's most gruelling battle ever – the choice between his love for a beautiful woman and his vow to be the defender of right, is definitely a cult classic animated feature film, that is a must for Batman fans everywhere.

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‘BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SubZero’ [1998] When a submarine accidentally destroys the Arctic hideout of Mr. Freeze [Michael Ansara] and destroys the case in which he has kept his sick wife Nora Fries cryogenically frozen, so Mr. Freeze returns to Gotham City to find a way to save Nora Fries life. He seeks out Dr. Gregory Belson [George Dzundza], his former colleague who is now desperate for money, to find a solution.

Dr. Gregory Belson says that the only way to save Nora Fries is through an organ transplant. The problem is that Nora Fields blood type is too rare. Mr. Freeze tells Dr. Gregory Belson to find someone, even if it's a living donor who will be killed by the transplant, with the rare blood type, and promises him much-needed funds if he does so.

The only person whose name comes up as having the same blood type is Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl. So Mr. Freeze kidnaps Batgirl and takes her to an abandoned oil rig with Dr. Gregory Belson. Batgirl’s boyfriend Robin [Loren Lester] aka Dick Grayson, tries to get to the bottom of this, with the help of Batman [Kevin Conroy] help. As Batgirl valiantly fights back against Mr. Freeze and Dr. Gregory Belson, Batman and Robin must find a way to figure out where she has been kidnapped, and try to find a way to save her while showing true  heroism and finding another way to save Nora Fries. Will they succeed in time, well to find out, you will have to purchase this Blu-ray disc.

Unlike so many other animated feature films, this one manages to deliver a very straightforward story with appeal for young children and adults alike. Whereas many of the other Batman feature-length animated films present a much "darker" versions of the characters. With ‘BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SubZero’ puts faith in the characters and story to be entertaining on its own without resorting to a lot of gimmicks. The result is a fast-paced and action-packed movie that can be enjoyed for its own sake. The comic book-dramatic style of the animation of the characters is all good fun, and all in all, it is a fun filled view for all Batman fans and nonfans as well.

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I NEVER EVEN TOLD YOU (Lyrics by Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard) [Performed by Tia Carrere]

THERE’S A GREAT BEAUTIFUL TOMORROW (uncredited) (Lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman)

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I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU (Lyrics by Al Dubin) (Music by Harry Warren) [Performed by The Flamingos]

AM I BLUE (uncredited) (Lyrics by Harry Akst)

Blu-ray Image Quality – Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Archive Collection presents us two 1080p and 1080i Technicolor image presentations and has two 1.78:1 [Theatrical Release] and 1.37:1 [Television Presentation] aspect ratios for the ‘BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM,’ animated film. With the animate film ‘BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SubZero’ it is only shown in the 1.37:1 aspect ratio version. With the animated film ‘BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM,’ just before the film starts, we get some information explaining how the animated film was created for the then standard TV screen of 4:3 aspect ratio, but was then matted in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio preparation for the Theatrical Release. As to the image quality with both animated films, is pretty awesome quality, and after viewing both aspect ratio versions, the night-time scenes in Gotham City, where it is dark and sinister gothic style, it really shows off the animation in a wonderful image presentation, especially with the black shadows, that really stand out, but also the daylight city scenes really shows off all the plethora of wonderful bright image colours, especially the reds and browns shows us the testament to why these animated films are a wonderful exhibition of how a 1990s Warner Bros. Animation should be presented to modern audiences.  

Blu-ray Audio Quality – Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Archive Collection brings us just the 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio experience. The sound mix in both animated films is really great, especially with the dramatic composed film scores and sound effects that really complement each other extremely well. There are plenty of moments in both animated films that will play great with the loud presentation whether you have surround sound or not and what a shame it could not been re-mixed and presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The sound is very crisp and clear, and the dramatic sound effects are really effective and really show off these 1993 and 1998 animated films with the best audio experience ever and now sounds even better than when they were first released, so well done Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Archive Collection this perfect Blu-ray 2 Feature-Length Dark Knight Adventures.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Theatrical Trailer [1993] [1080p] [1.78:1] [1:05] This is the Original Theatrical trailer for the ‘BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM’ animated film.

Bonus Special Feature: The Mr. Freeze Saga [In Chronological Order] Here you get to view four episodes from the original Batman Animated Series, and they are as follows:

Batman The Animated Series: Heart of Ice [1992] [1080i] [1.37:1] [22:28] Bitter scientist Victor Fries attacks several divisions of Goth Corp., each time stealing a piece for a secret weapon he intends to build. Batman investigates the connections, and discovers that the start of Mr. Freeze's vendetta against Goth Corp., after a bitter falling out between Victor Fries and the Goth Corp's CEO, Ferris Boyle during which Ferris Boyle almost killed Victor Fries, then mutating him into Mr. Freeze and presumably killed Victor Fries terminally ill wife, Nora Fries. Batman must find a way to bring Ferris Boyle to justice before Mr. Freeze carries out his revenge. So, all in all, “Heart of Ice” is the best episode because it has everything you could want in a Batman story, a compelling crime drama, a complicated moral quandary, conflicted characters, thrilling adventure, and just some very funny lines. A beautifully told, emotionally resonant story and “Heart of Ice” is just the best episode of Batman: The Animated Series, hands down. So check it out.

Batman The Animated Series: Deep Freeze [1994] [1080i] [1.37:1] [21:13] Mr. Freeze is sprung from Arkham Asylum by the aging billionaire Grant Walker, who is looking to freeze the world and acquire Mr. Freeze's own physique. Batman and Robin infiltrate the billionaire's underwater city and combat both high-tech robots and Mr. Freeze himself, who has no option but to do Grant Walker's bidding and cover the earth in a new ice age.

The New Batman Adventures: Cold Comfort [1997] [1080i] [1.37:1] [20:52] Mr. Freeze sets out to destroy all hope as he has none. With his body completely destroyed he could no longer be with his beloved Nora Fries. As such he plans to destroy all of Gotham City. ‘Cold Comfort’ is the third episode of The New Batman Adventures, is all about, as the name suggests all about Mr. Freeze. Unlike the past, when his ultimate goal was to cure and be reunited with his wife Nora Fries, this time he is only bent on malicious and spiteful vengeance as a way to lash out against all humanity, because Mr. Freeze decided that if he can't have happiness and have his wife Nora Fries brought out of her coma, then nobody can, and makes the big mistake of targeting Bruce Wayne's loved ones.

Batman Beyond: Meltdown [1999] [1080p] [1.37:1] [20:48] ‘Meltdown’ is the fifth episode of Batman Beyond. It depicts the return of Mr. Freeze. Tired of having to use a suit of plastic skin that can crack at any time, Derek Powers decides to try having a healthy body cloned from his original damaged one. However, the procedure is first tested on Mr. Freeze. At first, it seems that the procedure has worked and he tries to lead a normal, peaceful life. Unfortunately, he soon discovers that the procedure is a failure and the people he once trusted have betrayed him. Seeking revenge, the evil personality of Mr. Freeze is born again.

Special Feature: Art of Batman: Music Montage [1997] [1080p] [1.37:1] [2:31] Here we get a plethora of film clips from the animated film ‘BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SubZero,’ plus we get to view lots colour and black-and-white sketches, while at the same time we get to hear very raucous and very annoying heavy metal music in the background. By the way, we are informed that more than 300 three-panel storyboards were used to create the animated film. Nearly 50 backgrounds had to be painted. The production team consisted of 3 storyboard artists, 3 prop artists, 3 character artists, 3 background designers, 2 painters and an overseas crew of nearly 180 people.

Special Feature: Get the Picture: How to Draw Batman [1997] [1080p] [1.37:1] [00:51] Here we get to view artist Steve Everitt’s hand doing a pencil drawing of the head of Batman and was filmed so we see it speeded up. In the background we get to hear the fast paced music Killer Tracks by Jungloid.

Theatrical Trailer [1997] [1080p] [1.37:1] [1:03] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for the animated film ‘BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SubZero.’

Finally, with these animated films ‘BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM’ and ‘BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SubZero’ both children and adults can enjoy very much, but I suspect young children will enjoy ‘BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SubZero’ more than adults, because there is more of a feel for anyone who wants to enjoy some brief escapism, and is worth checking out. As to the animated film ‘BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM’ is the real winner here, is well worth the purchase of the Blu-ray discs alone and will definitely do the trick in satisfying all Batman fans and fanatics out there. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado 
Le Cinema Paradiso
United Kingdom

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