W.W.B.D.?

Polish up your grappling hooks, because Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is the Greatest Movie EVER!

Click on the movie poster or the title above to download our review of the film, featuring the official return of Sean “Hollywood” Hunting.

Review in a Nutshell:  Despite a few flaws in the production values, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is one of the most respected and beloved adaptations of the Batman comic books.  Because of the mature themes it explores, it is considered by many to be the apex of the Batman: The Animated Series cartoon series.

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20 Responses

  1. I remember seeing that Cartoon All Stars movie at my elementary school one time. Creeped me the hell out.

  2. Dark Knight is my personal favorite, but I do like this film a lot and am glad that you hold both it and the 90s series in high regard.

    The end of the show was very intriguing. Taking a movie like Batman & Robin that Paul DOESN’T have nostalgic memories of would be great.

  3. The movie is good. The series has some very good episodes probably better than the movie and the other two movies which aren’t bad.

  4. here is a link to that awesome allstars vs drugs animation sean was talking about… enjoy!

    http://www.comicsalliance.com/2010/04/21/awesome-anti-drug-cartoon-all-stars-to-the-rescue-animated-spe/

  5. Paul, you not only made my day, but my week,
    my month, and possibly my year. I live and die
    for Batman: The Animated Series, and frankly
    that Batman is the only one I’m familiar with.

    The show has some amazing episodes that flesh
    out his feelings of guilt and loneliness,
    most notably the first episode where we meet
    The Scarecrow, in which we find out that
    Batman’s greatest fear is failing in the eyes
    of his dead parents (thats also the episode
    where the ending quote you guys used came from).

    Funny thing is, as much as I am into DCAU, and
    as much as I love Batman, I have only ever seen
    this movie once, in the theaters. My father took
    me to see it, and hated it so much that it left
    a very bitter taste in my mouth. I don’t even
    remember why he didn’t like it. I guess now I
    have all the reason I need to go back and see it
    for myself, with adult eyes.

  6. This is easily my favorite Batman film next to the Dark Knight (MotP being my very favorite) because they actually nailed the guilt and obligation of Bruce Wayne as a character. Also, as a HUGE fan of the animated series, the fact that this served as basically an hour and a half episode of the show.

    Also, this is Trevor Johnson, averyisland is just the blog I write for. Meeting you and Daryl (and of course the rest of the AWO cast) was quite a pleasure Paul. Thanks for actually aknowledging me, I felt quite enlightened.

  7. Great episode guys!

    I think those DC movies are good overall, though the quality obviously varies. I didnt like Wonder Woman, I liked Green lantern, but then I’m a huge fan so that may be personal bias. Dug new Frontier and Superman: Doomsday. Public Enemies can be skipped. Crisis on 2 Earths and Under The Red Hood are MUST SEE FILMS though! They’re both excellent!

  8. Great Review Guys!

    I also liked that Sean did not sound like he was talking in a tin can for this review. I just want to make a quick comment on seeing this Movie in the theaters. If I remember right this came out in December of 1993. My brother and I went to see a matinee showing of the movie the Saturday after it opened. To my horror there were a total of four people there including me and my brother. I talked with a friend who was working at the snack bar and he told me that on opening night the theater was about half full. I was sad to think that so few people actually were going to Batman because it was such a good movie.

    I think that most people saw it on video because everyone who has seen it has told me how much they like it but did not see it on the big screen. I have a hunch that the marketing for this movie had a budget of two bucks and that might have killed it. I remember Siskel & Ebert reviewed this movie month after it had come out and they said that Warner Brothers did not have advance screening for critics. So they (Siskel & Ebert) didn’t review it until it was on video and at the same time with the Batman Forever which came out about two years later. The only thing that I am happy about is that most people love Mask of the Phantasam while few remember Batman Forever.

  9. You guys really need to review the two-part Justice League story “Wild Cards” now. It has the last major Joker story in the Dini Batman universe. It was also pretty damn dark in places.

  10. A little bit of information about “Epilogue” the Justice League episode you guys talked about.

    Its not straight to video. It was the seasn finale to the 3rd season of Justice League Unlimited. While the main focus was finshing the Batman Beyond story, its connection to the JLU was the use of Amanda Waller, who was a piviotal character for the entire season. The last episode of Justice League was “Destroyer” which featured the JL and Luthor and his villians teaming up against Darkseid.

    If I remember correctly, “Epilogue” was the first time we see Andrea Beaumont since MotP. Thats a pretty long gap. (about 10 years)

    was Sean’s bit at the end suppose to be a reference to Batman talking about how long he can hold his breath in an issue of the Morrisson JLA?

  11. I can’t remember if I liked Phantasm more than Return of the Joker, though I guess the latter is a Batman Beyond movie, but with some fine Mark Hamill action. Still, as a rule, the animated series and movies maintained an amazingly high level of quality.

    Of the new DC Universe movies, I thought Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the recent Red Hood were fantastic. I liked New Frontier a lot. Doomsday I thought was so-so. I hated Public Enemies and 2 Earths.

    For the Marvel stuff — I thought Dr. Strange was fantastic, as were the Hulk movies. The rest I can hardly even remember.

  12. Animated Batman: it’s good!

    Is it just a major coincidence you reviewed this movie about someone who “takes Batman’s vendetta against crime one step further” when the “Under the Red Hood” only recently became available on DVD?

    The few times I have read/heard people say they didn’t like Justice League: New Frontier, I am stunned. First off, it’s damn beautiful. That alone doesn’t mean a lot, but I also loved the gathering of this version of the Justice League and all of their origins.

    I do like the DC features more than Marvel’s offerings, but I would not call them all crap. I liked the first Avengers animated, the Avengers Next, and Doctor Strange. Hulk Vs. was also very good.

    That animated Iron Man can die in a drunk driving accident, and I dare the internet to disagree.

    Mr. Hunting, welcome back. We missed you. Even though you sound like a grandpa with 10 grandchildren talking about “The Batman” looking like an anime AND a manga (pick one, please), I do agree that I was at first turned off with the crazy direction they went with that show. Penguin is basically a fat ninja? Joker is a Jamaican Capoeira clown?

    I don’t like to say this, because it’s a compromise to plead with people to watch the stuff you like, but “The Batman” has great episodes later on.

    “Batman and Robin.” Paul, you must respect your elders and watch that. Without that awful, we would not have “Begins” or “The Dark Knight.”

  13. I remember reading a newspaper review of this film as it came out around Christmas time–in the not-exactly respectable Sun-Sentinel–in which it was awarded ZERO stars on the grounds that it was a cartoon with blood and people being killed in it.

    I certainly do like Batman: The Animated Series and its related works (http://plixi.com/p/44191825), and while I’m no huge fan of The Batman (EVERYONE tells me it gets substantially better, but it never seemed to…) I absolutely cannot deny the greatness of Batman: The Brave and the Bold which is nearly the complete tonal opposite of B:TAS. That said, if you’re a fan of Batman: TAS, the “Chill of the Night” episode of BatB is done in the same fashion by many of the same staff as B:TAS. I’m not sure if Paul would like it though since it’s specifically about “Joe Chill,” but whatever.

    Re: Sean’s objection to the later seasons of B:TAS using what he deems “anime”-like artwork…that was actually not a result of trying to be more “Japanese.” Heck, the initial seasons of Batman: The Animated Series were primarily animated in Japan, by Japanese studios, as is Mask of the Phantasm itself. Those redesigns–which mind you, I also dislike–were actually done for the sake of shifting the animation duties over from Japan to Korea to cut costs. Reducing the number of lines per character design made it easier for the (at the time) less experienced Korean animation studios. I used to really hate those later installments of the series because the look had changed so much, but the benefit of the “streamlined” designs was that the actual animation could be more fluid as a result of requiring fewer lines to draw per character. The action choreography got much more elaborate as a result. As a side note, it so happens that some of the best-written episodes in the entire series came during that last season. I still greatly prefer the original look, but it’s a tradeoff.

    PS: Bleeping out “God”? Really? REALLY?

    PPS: never ever read Zero Hour, Paul. The cartoons are the “what really happened” version of any given comicbook tale, and never let anyone try and convince you otherwise.

  14. Daryl, allow me to clarify something about “The Batman.” When people say it gets better later on, what they mean is it goes from horrible to merely really bad.

  15. Great podcast on a great film Paul and Sean. I remember seeing this when it came out in theaters, and being really impressed. I seem to remember though that there a few homages to Akira in it (Bruce jumping on the bike and punching the thug for instance), so in light of Daryl’s comment, I always thought B:TAS was heavily influenced by anime. And, I may be in the minority, but the last season of B:TAS is actually my favorite – ironically, the redesigns never felt to me like wanting to look like anime (ie Teen Titans) and they animated far better anyway – not only that, it was that last season that had World’s Finest, Over the Edge, Growing Pains, and Mad Love, to name a few of the best episodes in the series overall.

  16. I remember seeing this in a theater. Someone brought a small child to see the film. Said child freaked when they showed Salvador Valestra’s smiling corpse.

    I felt that the film was not promoted very well. I wonder if the Oscar for animated feature was around at that time if the film would have been nominated. Then it probably would lost to The Lion King.

    I never got into The Batman. There was a something off about it. I think part of the problem was the old Batman was still active in the Justice League series. New Batman did not seem to match up withe old Batman.

  17. One must-see episode from the final season of B:TAS, Darryl: “Over the Edge.” You will not believe this episode was shown on TV.

  18. It’s been a while since I saw Mask of the Phantasm and now I’m curious to watch it again. Then again, I want to rewatch the whole animated series all over again too.

    I love the closed casket theory because I’ve thought the same thing, but not necessarily just for animated movies. The two that I’m remembering are in Disney’s Mulan where the villain dies by fireworks (which if you think about it would leave quite and awful mess) and also Jackie Chan’s Shanghai Knights where Donnie Yen dies also via fireworks and that movie is rated PG-13.

  19. I just discovered your podcast on Podcast Pickle. I really liked it. The closed casket theory is spot-on. Also, that Cartoon All-Stars Against Drugs video IS terrifying. I think I learned more about drugs from that cartoon than from Half Baked, Blow, and Scarface combined. You’ve got a fan in me.

    Feel free to check out my podcast at: http://www.FranklyMyDearPodcast.com

  20. I loved Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. This goes way back when WB Animation had taken writing to the cutting edge, They had the passion and the flare and the honor to fork out the essence of The Dark Knight mythos, and all of this was witnessed in Batman: The Animated Series. That show made me loved cutting-edge animation & Batman all together. Alan Burnett, Michael Reaves, Paul Dini, Eric Radomski, Boyd Kirkland, Frank Paur, & last but not least, Bruce W. Timm had earned my utmost respect for fleshing out the nuance of The Dark Knight Detective and this movie + TAS had a lot of nuance & depth to Batman. I wlll always respect them for this bold presentation.

    Sadly, that’s where my respect has come to a stop when I’ve seen the latter of their work. You win critical acclaim, a lot of Emmys, a lot of Eisner Awards (for Mad Love), you loose 85% of your collaborators, and that’s where the big fanboy ego knob sets on HIGH VOLUME. The end result, is a bland, unambitious, poor adaptation to another DC animated superhero: Superman. And that time: he wasn’t very, VERY super. And the person who is responsible for making Superman realistically unfavorable to the viewers is Bruce W. Timm. Superman: TAS was the coming of the storm that Bruce W. Timm’s aggressive DC bigotry was determined to ram his Titanic full of DC passengers to a storm that can ravage the whole land. That storm in question is the DCAU.

    Bruce Timm’s DCAU is co-responsible for making DC Comics the most miserable, unimaginative, disrespectable, pretentious, laughable franchise in the history of the 21st century. Thanks to his arrogance, he has successfully festered a fanbase who are incredibly ignorant about the DC Universe. The saddest thing about this whole thing is that these people who claim that they are DC Fans, are NOT. They like DCAU not because Superman, not because of GL, not because of Wonder Woman, not because of Aquaman, and definitely NOT Because of Martian Manhunter. They’re fans of the DCAU because of Batman and Batman only.

    This explains why WB continues to promote Batman way more than DC, and this explains why the fanbase continues to blindly promote Bruce Timm’s ridiculous ego over the DC Universe all together.

    This explains why Marvel is killing DC all together all because nobody cares about DC other than Timm’s ego & The Almighty Batman.

    I’ll always love Batman: TAS & this movie, but I’ll never respect this hack-eyed ‘Batsploitation’ garbage called DCAU, and those stupid DC Animated Movies. Yes, I’m look at you New Frontier & that sexist, trashy WW animated movie.

    Except for Under The Red, but that doesn’t count to me because it’s a Batman movie, not a DC movie and Batman is was Bruce W. Timm & WB & the fanbase seems to care about b/c they have no faith their products. If they did, then DC would had the chance to express it’s own identity.

    Note to Sean & Paul: Bruce Timm is a pathological liar. He has deceived you: Batman is not in love with Wonder Woman. He did that crap in DCAU as a means to promote his ridiculous Superman Hate and Wonder Sexism. He did the same thing his Batman hooking up with Lois Lane– that’s stupid. He sabotaged the Wonder Woman franchise because of his weird prejudice against superheroines. Superman is in love with Wonder Woman, and Wonder Woman has a relationship with Aquaman. Read Grant Morrison’s JLA that he dismissed and you’ll see what I mean if you want to. If not then so be it.

    Mask of the Phantasm: My cup of tea. The latter…well, you get the idea.

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