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Of all the villains that Batman has faced, Mr. Freeze ranks as one of the most intriguing. Certainly not a common criminal, or criminally insane, Mr. Freeze even has moments when a bit of his remorseful humanity break out from beneath the depths of his frosty persona- making him a tragic and almost sympathetic creation. Certainly, Mr. Freeze is a villain capable of unspeakable acts, but he is also a man twisted by circumstance. As Dr. Victor Fries, this arch villain was a man deeply in love with his gravely ill wife- however; it was his efforts to save her through cryogenics lead to an accident that left Fries unable to exist outside of subfreezing conditions and transformed him into the Batman nemesis known as Mr. Freeze.

In BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SUBZERO ($20), we find that Mr. Freeze has taken refuge away from most of humanity in the arctic wastelands, along with his cryogenically frozen wife Nora. However, when a submarine bursts through the ice and ruptures Nora’s cryogenic chamber- Mr. Freeze returns to Gotham City to save Nora by whatever mean are necessary. Unfortunately, saving Nora’s life will require an organ transplant and since there are no deceased donors available, Freeze kidnaps Commissioner Gordon’s daughter Barbara- the closest living match. With time rapidly running out for everyone, it falls to Batman and Robin to find and rescue Barbara Gordon before she becomes an unwilling organ donor. BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SUBZERO features the vocal talents of Kevin Conroy, Michael Ansara, Loren Lester, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., George Dzundza, Robert Costanzo, Bob Hastings, Mary Kay Bergman, Marilu Henner and Dean Jones.

Warner Home Video has made BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SUBZERO available on DVD in a full screen presentation, which is the intended format for this 1998 direct-to-video release. This being a direct-to-video production, the quality of the animation is somewhat better than that of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, which was intended for daily consumption. Of course, BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SUBZERO maintains the same dark, moody atmosphere of the television show that spawned it. The animation appears crisp, clean and nicely defined. Vibrant colors contrast very well against the shadowy tones that tend to dominate this long form tale of The Dark Knight. As one might expect, blacks are suitably inky and the animation has a bit more depth than the episodic version. Digital compression artifacts maintained a low profile throughout the program.

BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SUBZERO is offered with a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack that decodes to standard surround. Since this release was originally intended for VHS and occasional broadcasts on Cartoon Network, the mix is constrained to those mediums. The forward soundstage predominates, with ambient sounds and musical fill falling into the rear channels. Fidelity is quite good and the front channels create a strong sonic image to match the on screen action. Dialogue reproduction is very crisp, with excellent intelligibility. The moody music is nicely reproduced and greatly enhances the atmosphere of the program. French, Spanish and Portuguese language tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. The Art Of Batman: Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero runs a little over two minutes and offers a montage of storyboards, conceptual artwork and completed animation from the program. Get The Picture: Batman quickly shows how the character of Batman is drawn. The Hunt For Mr. Freeze is an interactive game that tests one’s memory of the BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SUBZERO and utilizes clips from the program. Trailers for BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER, BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SUBZERO and THE BATMAN SUPERMAN MOVIE are included on the DVD, along with Scooby-Doo DVD promos and a trailer for the upcoming SCOOBY-DOO movie. A cast & crew listing closes out the extra features for this DVD release.

As a fan of the animated incarnation of Batman, I can honestly say that I am delighted that Warner has finally gotten around to releasing BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SUBZERO on DVD. This superior direct-to-video release is a must have for any fan of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES.


Batman & Mr. Freeze - Subzero (1998)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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