Now, technically, this was released after the next movie we’ll delve into, The Batman/Superman Movie, but this movie we’re looking at today, Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero, was originally intended for a mid 1997 release date, it was even advertised on the Space Jam VHS tape in March of that year. So, what happened?
OKAY…that makes perfect sense.
Yep, Batman & Robin bombing at the box office made Warner Bros. push back Subzero almost a year after it was first advertised. So was it really Batman & Robin’s fault or did Warner Bros. feel like it was a bad movie that was going to flop regardless? Well, let’s find out:
Yep, it was 100% Batman & Robin’s fault.
Mr. Freeze is living in the arctic with his cryogenically-frozen wife. When a submarine destroys her containment capsule, he has to find someone to “donate” a new heart for her. His search turns up one donor with the right blood type: Barbara (Batgirl) Gordon. Her kidnapping sends Batman and Robin on a hurried chase to free her in time.
I mean, my god, you wouldn’t think a movie would top something as great as Mask Of The Phantasm but Subzero comes really close.
Where do I even begin with the film?
The animation is just spectacular, you’re still getting the same great animation style used in the early seasons of Batman: The Animated Series but at the same time, there’s also a bit of the animation style used in the Superman series as well. The way they also blend CGI into the movie is incredibly well done too, you rarely see both 2D & 3D animation used so well especially for a direct-to-video feature like this.
The voice acting is great once again, all the primary voice actors from Batman are back including Kevin Conroy as Batman, Loren Lester as Robin, Michael Ansara as Mr. Freeze, Bob Hastings as Gordon, Robert Costanzo as Bullock and Efren Zimbalist Jr. as Alfred. The only character who gets a new voiceover is Barbara, played by the late Mary Kay Bergman replacing Melissa Gilbert and coming in just before Tara Strong took over the role for the Batman animated episodes to follow.
The story works well enough and it actually does a better job of telling the same Mr. Freeze story from Batman & Robin and not making it seem stupid. I mean, it’s almost the exact same plot from Batman & Robin except there’s actually a lot more intelligence and a real thought process brought into it instead of just making it about how Alfred has the exact same disease as Mr. Freeze’s wife. Of course, that’s the big difference instead of it being about Alfred with the same disease, it’s about Freeze wanting to use Barbara’s organs as a last hope to save his dying wife and, once again, it’s a much better story creatively and narratively.
The action sequences are incredible, the final sequence alone has a lot of great tense action and suspense that you really don’t know where it’s going to go, Joel Schumacher needed to look at this to know how to make good action for his movies.
Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero comes really close to being just as good as Mask Of The Phantasm, it’s got very small flaws in its’ story but they don’t ruin the enjoyment of the film, it’s a really solid, well-made, well-written, well-animated, and well-directed feature film that definitely deserves its’ place among DC’s crowning animated achievements. Check it out and you will not be disappointed at all.