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.