Friday, September 14, 2012

ANI-MOVIES, *Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm

The very first original animated movie of our favorite caped crusader was this spinoff of Batman: The Animated Series. The story reveals several “secret origins”, plus goes a step further than the TV series did with its dark subject matter.

Several old mafia bosses keep getting bumped off by a unknown vigilante(never actually called the Phantasm in the movie), but just because he wears a dark oufit and a cape the cops think that Batman is the one doing the killings. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne’s old flame, Andrea Beamont, comes to town. Batman thinks there’s some kind of connection between her return and the murders. He deduces that all the gangsters were part of an old gang run by the dying mob boss, Valestra. It turns out that the Joker was his hitman, and goes to him to stop Batman who he thinks is the killer. Joker betrays him, and uses him as bait to flush out the killer, and learns that its the Phantasm. Batman then nearly gets caught by the police, but rescued by Andrea who had already known his identity. The masked killer then tracks down the Joker, who figures out that the Phantasm is really Andrea. They fight for a bit, before Joker nearly kills her with a giant fan. Batman shows up to save her, and chases after Joker who almost escapes with a jetpack. But, Andrea makes off with the Joker as his entire hideout blows up. Batman remains unaware of Andrea’s fate, although we see her later moping on a cruiser, and obviously Joker survived too.

This movie is probably one of the best stories used in a superhero film ever done, and up until Batman Begins it was definately one of the best Batman movies. Their use of the Joker wasn’t just done for fan service, but actually served the story in the end, although it would’ve been interesting to see Robin in this too. You’d think if his mentor was wanted by the police that he’d look into it. There could’ve also been a little more interaction between Batman and the Phantasm aside from a brief fight they had that only lasted a few seconds. Aside from this though, the film opens up some major windows into Bruce Wayne’s past, and the hard decisions he had to make between leading a normal life or becoming Batman. Most of the other episodes in the animated series didn’t go this deep into Batman’s character, or his motivation for being a crimefighter. Once again, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are great as Batman and Joker, plus Dana Delany is fine as Andrea, which helpled her nab the role of Lois Lane in Superman: The Animated Series. You simply must check out this awesome superhero epic.

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