By Marc S. Sanders

Batman: The Animated Series from Warner Bros was a hallmark in telling more mature stories that could still appeal to kids, but adults as well for the superhero genre. Due to the show’s success, following the release of Tim Burton’s successful live action films, the animated series spun off a film of its own for the theatrical medium, and it works.

Subtitled Mask Of The Phantasm, Batman finds himself to be the blame for some vigilante murders of high-ranking mobsters in Gotham City. Turns out there’s another shadowy caped figure causing the mayhem.

At the same time, Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) is reunited with an old flame (Dana Delany) who has returned. Their history is told in flashbacks, and it could pertain to the appearance of this Phantasm. The Joker (Mark Hamill) is causing interference as well.

The animators and writers for Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm take their film completely seriously. From a story perspective, there are plot developments at stake along with the colorful cast of characters. Batman especially looks great as does his cave, Batmobile, Bat Cycle and Bat Plane. The Art Deco settings of Gotham City’s skyscrapers, and broad angles that enhance the vastness of the city are completely immersive. The voices work too.

The movie certainly ranks better than the Joel Schumacher Batman films, and at least just as good as Tim Burton’s second effort with the Caped Crusader, Batman Returns.

Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm is a great adventure steeped in mystery and big surprises. I really liked it.

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