1993 in Review

One Notable Film from 1993

batman

When I was growing up, I was into comics and watched all the animated series that came out around that time based on them like Spider-Man, X-Men, Iron Man and the Fantastic Four; however, the one that really stuck out to me then and the one that is still great to watch now is Batman: The Animated Series. Released to coincide with 1992’s Batman Returns, it could have been a cheap piece of garbage that kids would have watched because it had Batman in it. Instead, they hired great writers, animators and composers, and put together one of the best voice acting casts ever and came up with something that could appeal to both kids and adults equally. They also were able to find the perfect balance between campy Batman and dark, gritty Batman, a balance that seems to elude most every other adaptation that goes too far in one direction or the other. In 1993, they came out with a movie that was originally meant to be direct-to-video, but was so good that they decided to release it in theaters: today, I’m going to talk about Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.

First, the animation and score are fantastic, a step above the already high standards of the tv series and really show off a kind of gothic style and beauty that I’ve never seen replicated with 3D animation; take this scene as an example: https://youtu.be/-4Q-MS_oFkw?t=1m21s. Second, Mark Hamill is always incredible as the Joker and here, he gets to show a slightly more vicious side to his characterization than was probably allowed for TV and and is extremely memorable. Finally, the story is on par with some of the best of the series which is saying a lot and is not afraid to deal with themes like love lost and real tragedy like many shows aimed towards kids. The only negative for me is that it’s very obvious from the beginning who the mystery villain the Phantasm is; even me as a 7 year old saw it coming. For me, the animated series was and always will be my point of reference for what Batman, the world and its characters “are”, and Mask of the Phantasm might be my favorite Batman film. If you’re a fan of comic book movies, give this one a watch if you can find it.

Other Notables

Philadelphia

Groundhog Dog

Jurassic Park

Farewell My Concubine

Cronos

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Dazed and Confused

Rudy

The Sandlot

Sleepless in Seattle

1993 in Review

Schindler’s List: A (Won Best Picture)

Remains of the Day: A

The Fugitive: B

The Piano: B-

In the Name of the Father: C

1993 was a really great year and a very difficult decision for me in terms of what I would have voted for Best Picture. On one hand, you have a tragic epic that is extremely well-crafted but lacks a little in depth and nuance in large part due to its scope and its director; on the other, a much smaller film (also involving WWII and Nazis), that’s a phenomenal character piece and features one of the best lead performances of the decade. While close, I chose the film that aimed a little higher and had a much higher risk of being a disaster on a number of fronts (remember Spielberg’s previous “serious” film, Empire of the Sun? Me neither). Besides just these two, you also had the very entertaining The Fugitive and the highly original and unique The Piano, making up 4/5th of an enjoyable field.

1994 features some of the most popular films of all-time, including three of IMDB user’s top 15 films of all-time. We have: a film whose popularity led to a seafood restaurant chain; the first Best Picture nominee to only get one other nomination since 1951; Robert Redford’s film about a famous 1950s TV scandal; a film where the f-word is used 265 times; and the first of two Frank Darabont adaptations of Stephen King prison stories that went on to be nominated for Best Picture.

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