Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (PG)
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This is the first movie based on Batman: The Animated Series. It had a theatrical release in 1993, and I thought I first saw it on VHS sometime in the mid to late 90s. After watching it on DVD in 2019, I'm not so sure. Nothing about it was familiar to me, so maybe I never did see it before. Or, maybe I just completely forgot the plot. That happens. Anyway, I liked it. Maybe not quite as much as the TV series it's based on, but it was still pretty good. (Although it's a shame the DVD I got is full frame.)
It begins with Batman busting up a meeting of gangsters who are examining some new counterfeit money. One of them gets away from Batman, but is then pursued by some other masked vigilante, who seems almost like a ghost or something. (This is obviously the "Phantasm" of the movie's title, though I don't think that name was actually used in the movie.) The gangster ends up dying, and most of the public in Gotham City blame Batman, since they're unaware of the Phantasm's existence. In particular, a city councilman named Arthur Reeves wants the GCPD to arrest Batman, but Commissioner Gordon refuses. Later, the Phantasm kills another mob boss. And Batman investigates the killings.
Throughout the film, we see flashbacks to events from ten years earlier, when Bruce Wayne was just starting out as a vigilante, before adopting the guise of Batman. Around that time, he meets a woman named Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delany), whom he begins dating and soon falls in love with. In fact, he considers giving up vigilantism to be with her, but he's tormented by a vow he had made to his parents after they died. Anyway, Bruce soon meets Andrea's father, Carl Beaumont (Stacy Keach). He's some kind of investments guy, or whatever, but he's gotten involved with the mob, who want him to pay them back money he owes them, which he can't do. So he and Andrea flee to Europe, shortly after Bruce had proposed to Andrea.
In the present, Andrea returns to Gotham, and she soon reunites with Bruce. Meanwhile, a mob boss named Salvatore Valestra believes he'll be the next target of Batman (who he, like everyone except Gordon, believes is the killer). So he goes to beg the Joker to protect him... because before he'd become the Joker, he'd been involved with Valestra and the other gangsters who've already been killed. (Incidentally, Valestra in the present seems a lot more than ten years older than he was in flashbacks. Which I found really weird.) Anyway... plenty of other stuff happens, including the police (led by Harvey Bullock) going on a massive manhunt to catch Batman, who barely avoids being caught. Later, there's a major battle between Batman, Joker, and the Phantasm in an abandoned amusement park. It's all really cool and thrilling and whatnot. But I don't want to reveal any more of the plot, nor the Phantasm's true identity. I will say there are a couple of things I don't understand... like how at the end of the movie apparently Batman is no longer wanted by the police, even though no one actually ever learned of the Phantasm's existence. But whatevs. It's still a good movie.