DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com Awards & Recommendations at Amazon.com.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Bruce Timm, Eric Radomsky
Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Dana Delany
Writing Credits:
Paul Dini, Alan Burnett, Martin Pasko, Michael Reaves

Batman finds himself wrongly implicated in a series of murders of mob bosses actually committed by a new vigilante assassin.

Box Office:
$6 million.
Opening Weekend:
$1,189,975 on 1506 Screens.
Domestic Gross:

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
French Dolby 2.0
Spanish Dolby 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 76 min.
Price: $33.99
Release Date: 9/12/2023

• “I Am the Knight” Featurette


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Batman: Mask of the Phantasm [Blu-Ray] (1993)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 10, 2023)

When it hit TV screens in September 1992, Batman: The Animated Series became an instant hit with fans. It success inspired Warner to quickly authorize a feature-length version, and though initially intended as a direct-to-video project, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm made it to movie theaters at the end of 1993.

Gotham City’s regular costumed vigilante Batman (voiced by Kevin Conroy) encounters competition. A new crusader called the Phantasm (Stacy Keach) takes down criminals – and he does so in a more deadly manner than the Caped Crusader.

The Phantasm maintains a mysterious presence that leads authorities to think Batman himself now uses lethal force. While Batman deals with this issue, his alter ego Bruce Wayne also renews a romance with prior girlfriend Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delany), a relationship that tempts him to abandon Batman forever.

Although I loved the live-action Batman movies from 1989 and 1992, I don’t think I watched The Animated Series. I would assume mid-20s me just couldn’t find time to view daytime TV.

Or maybe I just figured I was too old for cartoons. Given I went to see Disney movies back then, this doesn’t make a ton of sense, but hey – I never claimed to be a bastion of logic!

In any case, I watched – and largely enjoyed – a decent chunk of The Animated Series on DVD, but this 2023 4K represents my initial screening of Mask - I think. I certainly never reviewed the DVD or Blu-ray, but I can’t rule out the possibility I checked it out on VHS back in the 90s.

I do know none of it looked familiar, so I guess I didn’t view it. Was Mask worth the wait?

Not really. While it offers a decent Batman tale, I can’t claim I think it excels.

I do like the movie’s ambition, as it offers an interesting take on the Batman origin story. The Andrea segments provide ample flashbacks to a younger Bruce and show aspects of his push into Caped Crusader that differ from the standard story fans know so well. These add verve to the proceedings, mainly because they give us that alternate spin.

However, I don’t think Mask blends the two narrative sides especially well. It seems oddly unconcerned with Phantasm for much of its running time, and it occasionally bites off more than it can chew for a fairly short 76-minute tale.

Eventually Mask involves Joker (Mark Hamill), a choice that feels both gratuitous and unnecessary. The basic Phantasm plot should offer villain enough, and it seems like the movie shoehorns in Joker just to milk the character’s popularity.

Not that Joker comes across as truly superfluous, but I do think the flick doesn’t need him. He can be a crutch for Batman stories that lack the self-confidence to succeed without him, and that becomes the case here.

Really, the lack of development for Phantasm turns into a pretty notable issue. Phantasm acts as a dark implication of what Batman could become if he didn’t restrain himself, but Mask fails to explore these themes especially well.

Again, perhaps if Mask didn’t stick Joker into the proceedings, it could’ve gotten into these topics better. As it stands, the end result seems something like a mishmash that fails to coalesce.

Not that Mask flops, of course. As noted, I like some aspects of the movie’s goals, and it manages reasonable entertainment.

It just doesn’t go beyond that, mainly because the basic story doesn’t seem up to the highest Batman standards. While a decent superhero tale, Mask doesn’t rise above that level.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While not a visual showcase, Mask appeared to represent the source well.

Note that Mask went through an expedited production schedule and wasn’t initially intended to run as a theatrical release. Meant as a direct-to-video project, what would’ve looked fine on circa 1993 tube TVs didn’t always hold up when seen on bigger screens.

All these disclaimers aside, I thought Mask offered perfectly satisfactory visuals. Sharpness became the most obvious “weakness”, as parts of the movie could seem less than precise.

Still, much of the flick looked either very well-defined or acceptably so. The nature of the source led to those soft anomalies but they didn’t become a significant distraction.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain felt somewhat heavy but appropriate, and print flaws remained absent. We got cel dust inherent to the proceedings but nothing that wasn’t part of the original product.

Colors looked reasonably vivid, with a good set of primary hues. HDR added some heft to the tones.

Blacks felt pretty deep and dense, while low-light shots boasted nice clarity. HDR brought a bit more range to whites and contrast. Nothing could make this inexpensive project a dazzling presentation, but the 4K replicated it accurately.

Aspect ratio note: because Mask was originally intended as a direct-to-video project, it was made with 1.33:1 in mind. It went 1.85:1 when Warner decided to run it theatrically.

The prior Blu-ray of Mask included both versions. While I find no obvious issues with the framing of the 1.85:1 edition – and accept it as original aspect ratio since that’s how it came out in 1993 – it disappoints that the 4K didn’t give viewers the option to see the 1.33:1 as well.

Though referred to as “remastered”, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack actually remixed the original 2.0 audio. It did so in a satisfying manner, even if it didn’t match up to theatrical standards.

This left us with a soundfield largely oriented toward the front channels, though it opened up to the surrounds pretty well during action-oriented sequences. Although the forward spectrum dominated, the overall soundscape became pleasing and fairly involving.

Audio quality worked fine, with speech that seemed natural and concise. Music was bold and full.

Effects showed nice accuracy and range. Overall, this turned into a generally solid soundtrack.

Note that the 4K also came with the theatrical DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio. It featured a less involving soundscape, one that oriented toward the front speakers even more heavily and used the surrounds largely as reinforcement.

It also felt a bit less robust, though audio quality seemed fairly similar. I thought the 5.1 remix became the more satisfying track, but I’m happy to get the original 2.0 as well.

Only one extra appears here: a featurette called Kevin Conroy: I Am the Knight. It goes for 26 minutes, eight seconds and brings notes from directors Eric Radomski and Bruce Timm, voice and casting supervisor Andrea Romano, screenwriter Paul Dini, former DC Comics president/publisher Paul Levitz, producer Michael Uslan, writer/producer Geoff Johns, Justice League Action writer/producer Jim Krieg, and actors Kevin Conroy, Melissa Benoist, Dana Delany, Michael Rosenbaum and George Newbern.

“Knight” looks at how Conroy got the role as Batman/Bruce Wayne for The Animated Series as well as aspects of his performances, the creation of Mask and similar topics. Much of this acts as a tribute to Conroy – who passed in 2022 – but it comes with enough good content to make it more than just a bland tribute.

Perhaps I entered Batman: Mask of the Phantasm with too high expectations, but I admit the film left me less than enthused. While I liked aspects of it, I thought the end product failed to really connect. The 4K UHD offered generally positive picture and audio along with a likable featurette. Though the movie didn’t quite work for me, I think fans will feel pleased with this quality reproduction.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
1 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main