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  Starring
  Specs
  • Full Frame
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Surround
  • Portuguese: Dolby Digital Surround
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
  Extras
  • 4 Teaser trailer - Four trailers for this film, another Batman animated film, an animated Batman and Superman film, and an animated Scoobee Doo DVD.
  • Theatrical trailer - Trailer for the 2002 live action Scoobee Doo.
  • Cast/crew biographies - Just a list of the Cast and Crew.
  • Featurette - How to draw Batman.
  • Film highlights - A montage of the film and storyboards set to music.
  • Interactive game - A

Batman and Mr Freeze: Sub Zero

Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 67 mins . PG . NTSC

  Feature
Contract

It has always annoyed me that the animated series of Batman didnít get the extended run on Australian television that it so obviously deserved. The superb dark and shady feel to the series was brilliant, and the voice of Batman, Kevin Conroy, seemed to be exactly what Batman should sound like. The plots were clever and involving, with twists and turns that were usually unexpected and brilliantly integrated into the story. All of the old characters were present in the series, and some new ones were thrown into the mix. Batman maintained the dark image that had made him so appealing over the years, whilst still possessing his heroic qualities.

The series ran from 1992 to 1995, with a total of 85 episodes created. There have been a number of feature-length spin off films created, including the brilliant Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Batman Beyond (which was a spin off from the more recent animated Batman series which is set in the future). This is the most recent region 4 DVD offering, and whilst it is not quite up to the standard of the two films mentioned previously, it is still of a very high quality. Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero was actually first released in 1998, three years after the series came to an end.

The plot is a little simpler than fans of the series would be used to. We see a man in the arctic who is amazingly resistant to the cold. So resistant in fact that he swims in the icy waters with only shorts on. He is living in an ice cave with a small Eskimo boy, two pet polar bears, and his cryogenically frozen wife. This leads me to mention one of the weaker aspects of the film, and that is a lack of background information on the characters involved. If this is the first Batman experience that the viewer is having, the film gives away precious little information about who this man is, why his wife is in that condition, and why he can survive in such inhospitable regions. Given the short 67 minute length of the film, I thought it may have been a good idea to have added another 20 minutes to the movie briefly describing how the characters came to be who they are.

Anyway, we learn that the man is actually Mr. Freeze, a former super villain that wreaked havoc on Gotham City some years prior. His wifeís situation becomes critical after a submarine breaks through the floor of the cave, and her cryogenic unit is destroyed. He returns to Gotham and tracks down an old friend who is a cryogenics specialist. We learn that his wife requires an organ transplant, but there are none available. The answer: find a living donor, kill them and then perform the operation.

There are 18 live donors with the matching blood type and one of them is Barbara Gordon. Barbara Gordon happens to be the daughter of Police Commissioner Gordon and girlfriend of Batmanís partner, Robin. AND she happens to have an alter ego: Batgirl. In all a rather stunning set of coincidences. One thing that is odd is that they decide to go after this rather high profile girl rather than take one of the other non descript donors... but then I guess there wouldnít be a movie if that was the case. The rest of the film is basically Batman and Robinís attempts to locate and capture Mr. Freeze in order to rescue Barbara and save the day.

The animation itself is, as we have become used to in the series, excellent. There is much more use of computer graphics in this film than in the older series, and for the most part it looks very good. But I must admit that personally I prefer the all hand drawn look. Unfortunately the plot seems to lack its old unpredictability, and the story is rather run-of-the-mill and seems to treat the viewer much less intelligently than the series itself did. Nevertheless, this is still one of the best animated titles available, and should not be missed by anyone who calls themselves a Batman fan. However, if you are uninitiated, I would recommend you view the live action Batman films before this, as the viewer gets much more from the film when you already know the characters.

  Video
Contract

This is an NTSC region 4 transfer, so if your system doesnít support NTSC, best leave this one on the shelf.

The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is full frame.

The video is of quite a good standard. The colours are vibrant when required to be, and suitably subdued in other scenes. No film artefacts were spotted, and there are no bursts of grain to ruin the experience. The image has a nice sharp quality to it. Shadow detail is spot on most of the time, and objects can easily be seen in the gloom.

A very limited number of MPEG artefacts are present, but they donít detract in any serious way. Also, a small amount of aliasing is found in a few scenes, but again it is only very minor.

The disc is single sided and single layered. The subtitles offered are the same as the soundtrack listings.

  Audio
Contract

There are four soundtracks provided on the disc, and they are English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese all presented in Dolby Digital 2.0.

In general, the audio transfer is quite well done. The dialogue sounds very good, nice and clear and easy to understand. The 2.0 chennel offerring is so well done it almost sounds more like a 5.0, and it works wonders in livening up the action sequences. The surrounds are employed quite frequently and the subwoofer also adds tremendously to the experience, spicing up the musical score as well as adding beef to all the explosions. There is, as with most animated features, a small problem with audio synch, but it is minor and forgivable. The score is set by Michael McCuistion, who is one of the men responsible for the television series sonics, and suits the mood of the film well.

  Extras
Contract

Warner had a fair crack at the extras on this DVD, and they complement the movie well.

Cast and Crew Info: This is just a list of the voices and crew.

How to Draw Batman: The audience gets the chance to look at a piece of paper whilst an animator sketches out Batman.

Interactive Game: Called The Hunt for Mr. Freeze, this is a short game where you are asked a question from the movie, and you are presented with four options presented graphically. If you answer correctly, then a relevant scene from the film is played, and the next question is displayed.

The Art of Batman: A short montage of storyboard sequences and clips from the film set to music.

Collection of Trailers: Five trailers are included on the disc. The first is of Batman and Mr. Freeze: Subzero, followed by another Batman animated film, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker and The Batman Superman Movie. The other two trailers are for Scooby-Doo. The first is of a collection of the cartoons on a DVD, and the second is the original theatrical trailer of the recent live action film.

  Overall  
Contract

The plot is somewhat sub-standard when compared to the original animated series, yet it is still head and shoulders above most other animated titles available. The animation is a nicely blended combination of computer graphics and hand drawn, and it is worked together seamlessly. Overall, both the video and audio transfer are of good quality, with no glaring problems. Definitely a must-hire if you are a fan of Batman, and if you are a REAL big fan then it is probably worth purchasing. But beware, if you are an admirer of the animated series you may be somewhat disappointed with this, as it does not reach the brilliant standard set by that program.


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      And I quote...
    "Batman takes on Mr. Freeze... and thank God, Arnie is nowhere to be seen!"
    - Robert Mack
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-NS300
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DE475
    • Speakers:
          Sony
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony
    • Surrounds:
          Sony
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony Active Superwoofer
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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