Batman: Mask of the Phantasm opens with the city’s most feared gangsters being systematically eliminated, and assumed blame falling on the Caped Crusader. But prowling the Gotham night is a shadowy new villain, the Phantasm, a sinister figure with some link to Batman’s past. Can the Dark Knight elude the police, capture the Phantasm and clear his own name? Unmasking the Phantasm is just one of the twists in this dazzling animated feature, which provides new revelations about Batman’s past, his archrival the Joker, and Batman’s most grueling battle ever – the choice between his love for a beautiful woman and his vow to be the defender of right.
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Batman: Mask of the Phantasm comes to 4K UHD Blu-Ray with a 2160p transfer that is derived from a 4K restoration of the 1993 Original Cut Camera Negative presented in its 1.85 theatrical aspect ratio. This source has been meticulously cleaned up to remove dirt and scratches, but thankfully the original cell animation has been unsullied as the presentation delivers a sumptuous level of natural film grain. The previous Blu-Ray from Warner Archive released in 2017 was a stunning achievement, but now that we have this amazing release it only has a leg up thanks to the inclusion of the 4×3 open-matte home video presentation as an option. While we would have preferred both aspect ratios to get the 5-star restoration treatment, the theatrical ratio is a great way to experience the film.
The use of HDR yields some fetching enhancements to the colors on display such as in the costumes or neon signage, and the disc provides much deeper black levels for a cleaner and more robust viewing experience free of black crush. This is a very shadowy movie, and the 4K disc makes things a bit more darker and in line with the original source material as intended. Gotham is less vibrant than the locations of other superheroic characters, but certain moments allow for a colorful time. This presentation handles the subtle gradients of the artwork in a way that is just excellent. This disc provides excellent line detail and more distinct shading, which gives the characters greater definition. We have never seen this film looking so good while also still looking like a proper film with cel dust intact. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has done great work with this one.
This release boasts a newly remastered version of the original theatrical DTS-HD 2.0 stereo track along with a newly created DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track that each offer a sterling audio experience. While we love to hear the original soundtrack in all of its restored glory, the new surround sound track delivers a formidable experience that will truly impress longtime fans who give it a shot. The new track is not disrespectful of the original sonic intentions of the feature, it only adds a greater depth to the experience. There are moments of activity in the low-end which will nearly knock you sideways with its sheer force.
Dialogue is often accompanied by a momentous score or all manner of sound effects, but all of the information comes through clearly without getting drowned in sound. The track engages the surround sound channels with panning effects and sounds of hand-to-hand combat and a few environmental flourishes that conjures a palpable scene for viewers. There are no obvious sync issues or other anomalies present. Warner Bros. has delivered an incredibly strong pair of tracks that deliver everything you could want. There are optional English SDH, French, Dutch and Spanish subtitles provided.
- Kevin Conroy – I Am The Knight: A new 26-minute featurette which shines a spotlight on the late, great Kevin Conroy and his iconic vocal performance that epitomizes the character of Batman. Not only do you get an archival interview with Conroy, but you get insights from a rich array of talent including animation legend Bruce Timm, Mask of the Phantasm co-director Eric Radomski, voice supervisor Andrea Romano, producer Michael Uslan, former DC president Paul Levitz, voice actor Dana Delaney, Supergirl’s Melissa Benoist and many more. There are also anecdotes about the creation and production of Mask of the Phantasm.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is one of the best movies featuring the Caped Crusader, animated or not. The movie runs at a gripping pace as you get to experience all of the facets that make you love Batman as a character. There are some good twists and turns along this mystery, but the film still works beautifully even when you know the identity of the titular villain. This sets a high bar for animated comic book features. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has newly released this on 4K UHD Blu-Ray with a magnificent A/V presentation and a nice new featurette. If you love this story as much as we do, this new restoration is a must-own. Highly Recommended
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is currently available to purchase on 4K UHD Blu-Ray and Digital.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the 4K UHD Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.