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    BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM Laserdisc Review.

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    BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM Laserdisc Review.

    Post  DGTWoodward on Tue Nov 30, 2010 4:52 pm

    BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM(1993) Laserdisc Review.

    Format: Laserdisc
    Studio: Warner Home Video
    Year of Release: 1994
    TV Standard: NTSC
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (approx) Letterboxed
    Sound: DOLBY SURROUND on both the analogue and digital tracks
    Running Time: 77mins
    Discs/Sides: 2 Discs, 3 Sides, all CAV

    Replay equipment:

    PIONEER CLD-D925 Laserdisc Player, connected via the S-Video feed
    Phillips 47” 1080p HDTV LCD Panel (calibrated using a Video Essentials Laserdisc calibration tool)
    PIONEER SR-609K A/V Receiver
    Ixos Silver Tos-Link audio cable
    Eltax and Acoustic Solutions Speakers

    Movie Genre: Superhero Thriller (Animated)

    The Plot.

    BATMAN is watching a meeting of a local gang talking about passing fake bills into the economy, he crashes the scene and starts to chase down the leader. But there is something that the Bat does not know yet.

    There is a new threat to Gotham City. It appears in a pail of smoke and glides along the floor, floating in spectral terror. This Phantasm of horror is after Chuckie Sol (Dick Miller), the powerful Gotham crime-lord that is already being pursued by BATMAN. The spectre forces Chuckie to drive his car to his death, off the ledge of a multi-story parking structure. At the climax of this battle, BATMAN appears and, as he is seen at the battle by passers-by, is blamed for Sol’s death.

    The Phantasm is killing crime-lords without mercy. It so happens that these villains have a connection. They are all members of Sal “The Wheezer” Valestra’s Crime Syndicate. Next to be killed is Buzz Bronski (John Ryan). On investigating this scene, BATMAN finds evidence to link the murder to a name from his past…Carl Beaumont (Stacy Keach).

    As a younger man Bruce Wayne had met Carl’s daughter Andrea (Dana Delany) and they instantly felt an attraction to each other. So much so that after just a short while Bruce proposes to her with a fantastic ring. Happiness turns to despair for Bruce as, the very next day, the ring is returned to him with a letter of rejection. That night becomes the very first time that Bruce Wayne shakes off his last hope for a normal life and dons the costume of The Bat, his life now forever locked into the life of a lone guardian of justice.

    B:MOTP is told partly in flash-backs. It is therefore, rather difficult to describe certain events revealed without exposing their significance later on in the story. Suffice to say that the film revolves around loyalty, come-up pence and straight revenge. Into this mix is thrown a corrupt politician Clr. Arthur Reeves (Hart Bochner), a Faithful family butler Alfred (Efram Zimbalist jr.), a senior criminal Sal “The Wheezer” Valestra (Abe Vigoda) and a certain green haired psycho-clown…The Joker (Mark Hamill).

    At this juncture, I would like to raise a point that seems to catch a lot of people out. This film had at least 3 strikes against it from the very start, all of which, I am sure, contributed to its rather unexciting performance at the box-office. They are, namely…

    1) Warner Brothers did not give enough production lead time to the film crew to actually make the movie, nor to promoting it very well. Eleven months is just not enough time to say that you want something made and then for 11 months to go by and to expect to be able to hand a completed movie over to the distributors? The fact that they did actually manage it is a testament to how hard everyone must’ve worked to get it there.

    2) It was a ‘Superhero movie‘. I am sure that this term alone would put a lot of people off from actually seeing it.

    3) It is animation. Though companies such as Dreamworks and especially Pixar have done wonders for changing people’s perceptions about what you can and cannot do with an animation movie, I am certain that to some, the term “animation” still means “kid’s movie” So "Superhero Animation movie” was probably the kiss of death for this initially.

    None of these things should be held against it though because it remains a great addition to the BATMAN genre. There are genuinely great and very chilling moments in it. There is at least one very clever moment of audience manipulation…The look on Chuckie Sol’s face when he thinks that he is going to run down and kill The Phantasm, early in the movie, the look of horror and resignation on Alfred’s face when he sees his “master” Bruce putting on the costume for the very first time, the realisation that when Sal Valestra goes to the JOKER in order to get him to kill the Bat for him, that this is in fact the second time that Valestra has asked him to kill a man for him, and again the results are equally as deadly. Very moody stuff. Very, very dark.

    So there’s what is, in fact, a classic BATMAN movie.


    The Disc.

    The Picture:

    This film is letterboxed to 1.78:1 ratio, but unlike other 1.78:1 films, it doesn’t fit the 16x9 full screen, it is evenly ‘frame-matted’ all around the picture. That aside, it is a very strong image. Good colour stability, and no blemishes that I could see. The chroma palette is consistent throughout and consistent with the rest of the animated BATMAN series. It opens with a very smart CGI flight around the rooftops of Gotham City and the switch to regular cell animation is flawless. Some nice thought has been given to how things are seen in this medium, eg, there’s no bleed in any of the colours, they hold their boundaries tightly…but the pink neon sign early on looks misty and slightly diffuse, just as it would on a cold dark and damp night. Such touches of attention to detail make this a worthy disk for any movie enthusiast and fan of BATMAN


    The Sound.

    Sound comes in the Surround/Pro-Logic variety, from the analogue and digital tracks and is very good. Not too much is thrown out of the rears. It presents a very natural field with the viewer right in the centre of the whole thing. There are some surround moments but they are used respectfully and not over done.


    Overall movie rating of 82%

    Last edited by DGTWoodward on Mon Jun 20, 2011 7:28 am; edited 5 times in total (Reason for editing : Even more errors in the proof reading.)

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    Re: BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM Laserdisc Review.

    Post  RetroK on Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:27 pm

    Great review. I haven't seen this movie, probably for the very preconceptions that you have stated. After reading your review though, I definitely want to check it out.

    Posts : 172
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    Re: BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM Laserdisc Review.

    Post  March on Tue Nov 30, 2010 11:36 pm

    Another excellent review. Good work.

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    Re: BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM Laserdisc Review.

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