Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero (1998) (NTSC)

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Released 9-Sep-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Audio
Listing-Cast & Crew
Featurette-The Art Of Batman: Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero
Featurette-Get The Picture: Batman
Game-The Hunt For Mr. Freeze
Trailer-Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker;The Batman Superman Movie
Teaser Trailer-Scooby Doo
Trailer-Scooby-Doo Sneak Peeks
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 66:30
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4 Directed By Boyd Kirkland
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Kevin Conroy
Michael Ansera
Loren Lester
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Michael McCuistion


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Spanish
Portuguese
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    After reviewing another comic book cartoon, Justice League, when I opened up my next delivery from Michael D I was not really looking forward to reviewing Batman & Mr Freeze: Subzero. While there was nothing really wrong with Justice League, I felt that maybe I was getting over animated Batman shows. Fortunately, this film has changed my mind on this matter.

    Batman & Mr Freeze: Subzero is a really cool (Ha!) film. It runs for only 60-odd minutes, but it has very many elements that I really enjoyed. Firstly, right from the opening credits, it had much of the feel of the original Batman films by Tim Burton. The music is based on Danny Elfman's theme from the films, and it is set in Gotham City with one of Batman's arch enemies as the villain.

    The animation is in the older hand-drawn style. While I am no expert on animation of any kind, I enjoyed the sort of 'messy' nature of the animation - coupled with its Art Deco production design, it made me feel like a kid watching Batman again. A lot of the shots contained in this film are similar to the early comics as well as the more recent TV adaptations. Some of the 'steady cam' style shots looked immaculate, and the actual storyline was solid as well.

    Our story starts with poor old Mr Freeze.  He is living up there in the arctic sobbing over his cryogenically frozen and terminally ill wife, Nora Fries (pronounced 'Freeze'). When her slumber is interrupted, Mr Freeze is forced to find a cure for her by tracking down an organ donor for her in Gotham City.

    When Mr Freeze kidnaps Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), Batman & Robin fly to the rescue to battle the 'evil genius' (I have always wanted to use that term in one of these reviews!!) and rescue Barbara from his clutches.

    The production values are fantastic, and the slightly messy hand-drawn animation gives the film an older feel which I really liked, but I guess it comes down to personal taste. Some of the computer generated shots are simply awesome and above all else, I think that Batman is the coolest guy ever.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The video transfer of this film is dark and menacing. There are a few artefacts to be found here as well as some NTSC related artefacts. As this is an NTSC transfer, please make sure that your display device can play back NTSC video.
 
    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and needless to say, it is not 16x9 enhanced. There has been some discussion as to the correct aspect ratio of this film, as it was presented on laserdisc in a ratio of 1.66:1. There is however, no definite proof as to what the original ratio is meant to be, and to me the ratio of 1.33:1 is fine.

    The picture on-screen is sharp and clear for most of the film and shows no lack of shadow definition. Grain, however, can be problematic at times. I believe that some of the grain found in this transfer is from the source material, as the film has a dark and menacing texture to it. The most troubled areas are at 14:35, 24:47 and 25:15.

    Colours are steady, but dark throughout the feature. All colours stay rock steady throughout and there is no sign of colour bleed or any other colour related artefacts.

    There are no MPEG artefacts to be found but there are some film artefacts present on the film's negative at 5:25, 12:53 and 14:35 in the form of some small scratches. There are also small flecks of dust and dirt throughout the film. I noticed only a small amount of aliasing in this transfer with the worst example at 11:34. Compared to the aliasing-riddled Justice League, this is a major improvement by Warner Home Video. Some very minor aliasing can be seen at times in Batman's eyes, but it is very minor.

    Because this  is an NTSC transfer, we are open to seeing one of the most objectionable DVD artefacts you can find - the NTSC '3:2 pulldown' or 'judder'. There are a lot of examples of judder in this transfer with some horrible examples to be found at 4:36 and 12:01. There are also some other instances at 2:30 and 2:22.

    There are four subtitle tracks recorded on this disc. I watched about 30 minutes of the film with the English subtitles on, and they were adequately matched with the dialogue on-screen.

    This is a single-layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer of Batman & Mr Freeze: Subzero is presented in 192 kb/s 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround and considering this format, it is excellent. Obviously, a 5.1 Dolby Digital transfer would be better, but there is not much wrong with the 2.0 Surround version. The front speakers give an excellent spatial feel and the surrounds and subwoofer get used heavily.
    
    The dialogue quality is good with no specific instances where I could not understand what was being said. Audio sync does not really apply too much here, as most of the audio sync problems are associated with the source material as opposed to the DVD transfer.
    
    Music is an absolute highlight in this film. The musical score by Michael McCuistian is fantastic. Based on Danny Elfman's theme from the motion picture, it really adds to the gothic and mysterious feel of the film.

    The surrounds are used heavily despite this disc's 2.0 treatment. They are used a lot during action sequences and constantly have light effects and ambient noise coming from them. The biggest and most impressive workout the the surrounds get is at 48:11 when the Batwing flies overhead.
 
    The subwoofer is used with reckless abandon throughout the action sequences and in the finale to give a massive bottom end to the 2.0 soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

   There are not a huge amount of extras available here, but it is better than nothing....

Menu

    The menu design is themed around the movie. It is a static picture of the front cover and features a mono soundtrack of the theme music. 

Theatrical Trailer - Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker

    Running for 1:45, this trailer for the excellent Batman Beyond film plays very well. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a 192kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Theatrical Trailer - Batman & Mr Freeze: Subzero

    Running for 1:06, this trailer looks great, but unfortunately features Robin and Batgirl. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 192kb/s soundtrack.

Theatrical Trailer - Batman & Superman Movie

    Running for 1:10, this trailer features Batman and Superman vs The Joker and Lex Luthor- could be OK. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a 192kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Theatrical Trailer - Scooby-Doo Sneak Peeks

    This collection of clips of Scooby-Doo and the gang advertises the recent DVD releases of the original series. Compared to some of the slick images portrayed in the other trailers here, they look old and tired, just like the characters. It runs for 1:55 and is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 192kb/s soundtrack.

Theatrical Teaser - Scooby Doo

    This teaser trailer for the motion picture Scooby-Doo runs for 1:06 and is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.80:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. Presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 192kb/s soundtrack, it is themed around Batman.

Featurette - The Art of 'Batman & Mr Freeze- Subzero'

    This is a collection of images from the film professionally edited together to make a stylish action-packed ad for the film. It is set to some great music and runs for 2:33 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 192kb/s soundtrack and an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 non 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette - Get The Picture: Batman

    Want to see how to draw Batman? You had better be quick, because this is a sped-up sequence of a person drawing Batman's head and shoulders. It runs for 0:53 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 192kb/s soundtrack and an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 non 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

 

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     Both these discs are identical - even down to the video format!  The inherent saving probably makes the local release the version of choice.

Summary

    For me, Batman & Mr Freeze: Subzero was a fantastic film. It is short and sweet and hits all the right marks when it needs to. If you love Batman, and in particular the Batman cartoons, then you will love this one.

    The video quality is solid without being fantastic. The NTSC transfer is terrible at the start, but gets a lot better as the movie progresses.

    The audio quality is superb considering its format.

    The extras are pretty short.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Hugh Fotheringham (what the hell is going on in bio??)
Saturday, August 31, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-S525, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos (81cm) 16:9. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS797- THX Select
SpeakersJamo X550 Left and Right, Jamo X5CEN Centre, Jamo X510 Surround

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