MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5)
Kevin Conroy as BATMAN/BRUCE WAYNE
Michael Ansara as MR. FREEZE
Loren Lester as ROBIN/DICK GRAYSON
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as ALFRED PENNYWORTH
Studio: Warner Bros.
BY KEVIN CARR
Five years after “Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm” was released in theaters, Warner Bros. mined another character from the “Batman: The Animated Series.” This time, it was Mr. Freeze they resurrected, whose story and origin was told on the animated television show.
“SubZero: Batman & Mr. Freeze” came out as a tie-in to the Joel Schumacher-directed cinematic disaster “Batman & Robin.” While George Clooney and Arnold Schwarzenegger were putting the final nail in the feature films’ coffin, “SubZero” actually was a stand-out quality superhero film. Too bad this was the one that got the direct-to-video release.
“SubZero” takes place after Victor Fries was exiled to the Arctic. While trying to save his wife from a rare disease, his lab is destroyed by a submarine. This sends Mr. Freeze back on a crime spree. He returns to Gotham to kidnap the only person whose blood and tissue types match his wife’s for a transplant. Too bad for him that potential donor is Barbara Gordon. Batman joins with Robin (who happens to be dating Barbara) to try to take down Freeze again and save his wife.
Like “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm,” “SubZero” is superior in quality, tone and respect for original source material to the Burton/Schumacher debacles. The characters are lifted faithfully from the comics, and it sets the stage for the even more impressive animated series that were yet to come, not just for the DC universe but for Marvel as well.
Additionally, the filmmakers for “SubZero” got Mr. Freeze right as a Batman villain. By the end of Schumacher’s run as feature film director, the villains became nothing more than wisecracking caricatures of their original selves. The animated Mr. Freeze kicks ass all over the Schwarzenegger mess that was made in “Batman & Robin.”
Both “SubZero” and “Mask of the Phantasm” are now available as a double feature double-sided disc. The “SubZero” side features a common Warner Bros. animated “Get the Picture” segment that shows how to draw Batman, cast and crew information, a musical montage and a “Hunt for Mr. Freeze” set-top game.