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Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Batman: MASK OF THE PHANTASM

Animated or not this one belongs up there with Barman Begins and the Dark Knight. It's a great movie which was based on the '90s Emmy winning animated television series, which in turn was based on  Tim Burton's live action "Batman" films.

According to the IMDB the movie took $5,617,391 in the US alone which are not bad figures for an animated movie. When done well animation is far more truthful to the source material than live action, even with modern CGI techniques, can ever hope to be.  We are after all talking about adapting a comic book  - so animation should prove the perfect medium. If there is a problem with animation it is that the films are often thought of as cartoons and made far too child friendly - not this movie which follows the more mature direction taken by both the Tim Burton movies and the comic books of the period.

Although it must be said that the animation is a little shaky in places, but then Warner were originally intending this to go straight to video and only decided on a theatrical release when they saw how good it turned out. With a better budget this could have easily rivaled any of the Batman movies, live action or otherwise.

Batman discovers that there's another vigilante in town knocking off prominent mob figures. The  police and outraged officials mistake the homicidal crusader for Batman himself and demand that the city's longtime hero be brought to justice. Meanwhile, Andrea Beaumont returns to town. She is the lost love of Bruce Wayne and was an integral part of 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.

Luke Skywalker himself provides the voice of The Joker and he is excellent in the role, seeming to owe little to Jack Nicholson's Joker and instead per-empting Heath Ledger's version. Batman's tones are provided by Kevin Conroy while Stacey Keach voices the Phantasm.

The film is available on DVD and Blu-Ray but by far the best value option is to pick up the animated Batman box set which contains five Batman Animated movies, including Year One which was featured in the previous post, and is on sale at the moment for around £10-£15 in most major supermarkets. Amazon UK have it listed for £11 and although I've yet to see all of the films, they do all seem to be fan favorites.

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