Thursday, July 17, 2014

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993).

This has been on my list of movies to watch for a long time. I have heard from many places this is one of the best Batman movie. Among best live action movies. Problem was I couldn't find it anywhere when I remembered it. Now it became available. So I had to check it.

Phantasm, new lethal vigilante, comes to Gotham City. Batman is mistaken for Phantasm and police start serious hunt for Batman. At same time Bruce Wayne's old love, Andrea Beaumont, comes back. This gives Batman flashbacks of time before he became Batman and when he was with Andrea. Bruce Wayne has promised his dead parents he will fight crime. He is not yet Batman, but fights criminals during night. When he meets Andrea, he has to choose between happiness with her or keeping his promise and continue his vigilantism. After internal struggle, he chooses happiness. That lasts one day, which he and Andrea are engaged. Next day Andrea and his father leaves to Europe.

After that Bruce Wayne found Batman character and rest is history. Then we get back to modern time, where Batman tries to solve, who Phantasm is and what Andrea is doing in Gotham. The Story is darker than I expected. Ending is also something you don't expect, if you think animations are for kids. This is one of the best Batman movies among Tim Burton's and Christoper Nolan's movies. It has same tone and no Robin. Best Batman movies seem to not have Robin. As soon as you add Robin, tone of the movies change.

Watching this movie I realized how often people learn who Batman is. In every live action movie, except Batman the Movie and Batman and Robin, Batman's love interest finds out who Batman is. Before this it didn't bother me. Bruce Wayne has new woman every month. If every other of them knew Batman's identity, how long Batman's identity could remain hidden. This is different from Spider-man, who stays with one woman longer. In Daredevil: Born again comic, Daredevil's former lover sells his identity for drugs. After that criminal boss Kingpin attack Daredevil's civil persona and destroys his civil persona's life. Something similar could happen to Batman, when he reveals his identity to so many women. This problem was biggest in Burton's and Schumacher's  movies, where almost every girlfriend of the week learned batman's true identity.

Another thing I didn't like was addition of Joker. The story didn't need him. He was included to Batman's origin story once again. I liked Dark Knight, because it had Joker, but it didn't add him to Batman's origin story. I like Joker, but he shouldn't be everywhere. This story didn't need Joker. It would have been better only with Batman, Phantasm and regular criminals.

What I really liked was Future World theme park. In flashback it was futuristic theme park, showing how Bruce Wayne's future seemed bright. On current time it is abandoned decayed place like Bruce Wayne's current future. In the end it is completely destroyed like Bruce Wayne's hopes for happy future. Bruce Wayne had change for happy future and he chose it, but world decided otherwise. Did I tell you this movie have very uplifting look on world and happy story?

Those two things above are not big problems. This is one of best Batman stories. Much better than I expected from animation. I liked Phantasm character. It was good enough for Batman's regular rogue gallery. But character's motivations wouldn't work as regular villain and that would change the character to something else.


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