Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero – Blu-ray Review
Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero is a 1998 direct-to-video superhero animated feature film, the second based on “Batman: The Animated Series”, serving as a stand-alone sequel to Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, and starring Kevin Conroy and Michael Ansara, reprising their respective roles from the series as the two titular characters. It has won the Annie Award for Best Home Video Animation, and was produced by Warner Bros. Animation.
Taking place after his last encounter with Batman, Mr. Freeze has found a new home in the Arctic and has started a surrogate family with his sill cryogenically-encased wife Nora, his adopted Inuit son Koonak, and two pet polar bears, Hotchka and Shaka. Nora’s condition begins to rapidly deteriorate due to a submarine accidentally emergency from underwater directly beneath them, shattering her containment vessel. After punishing the crew by freezing them with his trusted freeze gun, Freeze makes his way back to Gotham City with his companions and enlists the help of his old friend, Dr. Gregory Belson, to find a cure. Belson determines that Nora needs an organ transplant, but due to her rare blood type, there are no suitable donors. Freeze then declares that they will use a live donor, even if it means killing an innocent woman, and bribes Belson into compliance with a promise of gold that will put an end to Belson’s own financial problems.
The Film Itself (4.5/5):
For being the first ever direct-to-video feature-length Batman animated production, I will be honest and up front that I found Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero to be significantly better than its predecessor, Mask of the Phantasm. The story that’s provided with this feature film felt like it was much, much more relatable to the original animated series that we grew up with, and offered a less than serious tone than than the earlier film. Seeing the inclusion of Robin and Batgirl in the movie allowed for it to mesh right into the environment that the animated series had originally set up for it. My only complaint with this movie was that it did feel that it was too short. I feel that there could have been some more subject matter included that would have answered some of the questions that came up during its runtime. But, other than that, I really liked this one.
Picture Quality (4.75/5):
Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero is presented in a 1.37:1 presentation; the visual presentation that does include the standardized black bars on the sides of the picture. As much as I enjoyed the flatter presentation that was given with the earlier film, I found the current presentation of this film to be slightly distracting. The animation was beautifully presented and offered a considerably bright color palette and very sharp and distinct animation lines. There was much, much more definition to the sequences than was is offered of the animated series that was on air during the ’90s. I don’t know if it was just a matter of source material during the remastering process; but, the small distraction with the aspect ratio of this release was only a minor annoyance.
Audio Quality (2.5/5):
The audio track that was included with the Blu-ray release of Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero is a remastered DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 audio track. While it isn’t nearly as immersive it really could have been, it was cleanly done and allowed for an experience that was exactly what you would expect from a standard Blu-ray release. Unfortunately, nothing really stood out with this audio track as it wasn’t a very powerful or moving experience. In fact, there were some issues with the bass track as it was too low, despite having absolutely no issues with any other film previously, that the subwoofer wouldn’t recognize the fact that an audio signal was being passed to it and would ultimately turn itself off. The audio track that was used for Mask Of The Phantasm was much, much more powerful and offered a significantly more impressive experience. But, issues aside, the dialogue was clean and clear, and the overall experience felt right on par with what I remembered watching the animated series was like as a child.
The Packaging (2/5):
The Blu-ray release of Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero comes packaged in your standard single-disc Blu-ray amaray case. Within that case is the standard Blu-ray copy of the movie. There are no DVD copies included, nor are there any digital copy redemption pamphlets. There is not a slipcover included with this release either. This Blu-ray release is confirmed to be Region Free as well.
Special Features (3.5/5):
I really have to give some major props to Warner Archive for actually including some bonus content on the Blu-ray release of Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero. While the content is pretty minimal in terms of content that explores the work that went into the film, the included expansion into the storyline and overall story of Mr. Freeze was a really nice touch. The included instructional video on how to draw Batman was a nice feature, especially for children.
- The Mr. Freeze Saga – In Chronological Order
- Heart Of Ice (Batman The Animated Series) In Standard Definition
- Deep Freeze (Batman The Animated Series) In Standard Definition
- Cold Comfort (The New Batman Adventures) In Standard Definition
- Meltdown (Batman Beyond) In Standard Definition
- Art Of Batman: Music Montage
- Get The Picture: How To Draw Batman
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC (34.99 Mbps)
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Original Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 16-bit)
Original Film: 67 minutes
Overall, I really enjoyed the story and experience that Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero offered. As I personally work to continue my way through experiencing the various DC animated movies that are out there, this one was much, much better than the previous. The visual presentation was nicely done, despite the occasional distraction that was caused by the choice of aspect ratio for this release. The choice of audio track could have really been handled better as it wasn’t as nicely done as I’ve personally seen on previously released Warner Archive titles. The inclusion of some bonus content was a really nice touch, and I really hope that this becomes the norm with these releases from Warner Archive. If you’re considering grabbing this release for your collection, I would absolutely recommend it if you’re a fan of the various animated features that are out there, or if you personally enjoyed the television series at some point in your lifetime. Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero is available on Blu-ray now!