Batman: Mask of the Phantasm ★★★★★

The greatest Batman movie ever made, bar none. The story is truly engaging beyond all others, and the direction brilliant, backed by the best music scored for a Batman film. The only unfortunate aspect is the animation. The storyboard compositions are all dynamic and wonderful, and the cel art is usually drawn quite well (the BGs are great as usual), but the actual motion is often lacking. It's sad to think that episodes of the TV series looked a thousand times better (particularly those directed by Kevin Altieri, the anime geek of the bunch). Whichever studio(s) did those finer episodes, they really should have been used on this feature.

I've seen this movie about a hundred times and it never gets old, and strangely my appreciation for its grows as I get older and the more I see it. This time I watched the matted widescreen version on my 52" HDTV for the first time. Limitations of the ancient transfer aside, it was a treat, as I never got to experience this movie theatrically. (Was it ever even released in theaters, or was that idea scrapped?) One thing I'd like to see for a proper Blu-ray release would be to offer the film both open matte and widescreen, but what it really needs is a 1.66 ratio to give proper breathing space for the framing. 1.85 (actually, if I'm not mistaken, the DVD is 1.78) is too tight, and I really think the movie would look gorgeous at 1.66. Oh, and for the movie to look as perfectly filmic as it can, scanned from the original negative and all the lovely grain intact. Give my beloved cartoons to me the right way, studios.