Batman: Mask of the Phantasm Review

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Bruce Wayne has just met Andi when a string of axe-murders take place in Gotham City. To make matters worse, because of the killer's dark appearance, people begin to suspect that it's Batman. He is forced to go on the run and to try and solve this mystery.


Though this spin-off from the excellent animated Batman TV series, was too dark to catch the audiences who flocked to The Lion King, it is certainly the best cartoon feature of 1993. Better-plotted than Tim Burton’s live action movies, this shares their semi-tragic characterisation of the schizo superhero and a love of the art deco gothic of Gotham City. A brooding Bruce Wayne (Conroy) is haunted by an old flame (Delaney) who has returned to his life just as the Phantasm, an even scarier vigilante, has started a murderous crusade against Gotham’s gangsters. In Casablanca style, the film flashes back to the early days of the Batman’s career as he almost calls the whole thing off when the temptation of normal life is nearly too great to resist: in a moment more emotionally powerful than anything in Burton’s films, Bruce talks to his parents’ grave trying to back out of his vow to fight crime, pleading “I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t hurt so much any more... I never expected to be happy.” Though it focuses on the character elements, it doesn’t skimp on the action stuff and the black humour, as Batman battles the Joker (a wildly ranting Hamill) in the ruins of an outmoded City Of The Future exhibit.

Heroic stuff.