September 1998
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A Review of Batman: Subzero

by Gordon Dymowski

Dear Mr. Schumaker,

I strongly believe that we should haul your dead butt to Nuremberg for crimes against humanity. You have taken the coolest hero ever - Batman - and thanks to Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, made him so campy that even Adam West *himself* thinks you went too far. You need to stop it - I mean, Chris O'Donnell as Robin? Did you catch him as Ernest Hemingway in (a film I'm *still* suffering from, years after seeing it). What the heck were you smoking when you thought *that* one up? [I'll grant you Alicia Silverstone in that tight Batsuit, but that's about it.]

However, you can redeem yourself by taking the time to watch an animated movie called . That's right - the guys who do the animated TV series *know* Batman. They know him not as some leather-clad wussy boy, but as a *man*. This animated film has twice the action, the adventure, the characterization than your Batman films possess. You know, Mr. Schumaker, your films are more cartoony than the Batman cartoon. That, to me, is saying a heck of a lot.

The plot: Mr. Freeze (voiced by Michael "Bad Ass" Ansara) wishes to revive his dying wife with an organ transplant. (You know the backstory, Mr. Schumaker, since you pretty much plagiarized it for Batman & Robin).

Anyway, the only person with her blood type is Barbara "Batgirl" Gordon. Throw in the corrupt Dr. Belson (voiced by George Dzunda), a small Eskimo boy, and Batman (Kevin Conroy) & Robin (Loren Lester), and you have one of the tightest hour-and-seven minute movies of all time.

That's right - for a mere fraction of the budget, batman: Subzero blows away all the recent Batman movies. It's unique blend of computer & cel animation works most of the time (especially during the initial opening, taking place in the arctic), but only falters through a critical chase scene in the middle of the movie. It also has some of the richest characterization available - I mean, Batman shows himself in this movie to be the world's greatest *detective*, not the "Let's Dress Up and Beat People Up While Making Goofy Comments" guy in your movies. Mr. Freeze comes across as a man driven not by evil, but solely by wanting his wife alive and well. I wish I could describe this movie in more detail, but to do so would spoil it.

This animated Batman movie strips all the BS away from the character, and shows him as he's meant to be seen: a lone crusader in a dirty city. Everything seems to be more "real" than the movies: the noir atmosphere, the Art Deco-reminiscent design of Gotham City, the look of each of the characters...this is *the* Batman movie to watch. (Well, this and Batman: Mask of the Phantasm). If you dig Batman, Mr. Schumaker, you'll see this. It went straight to video, but don't let that stop you - you could probably buy it cheap, or rent it from a video shop. Hell, steal your kid brother's copy, if you have to.

Mr. Schumaker, you have some decisions to make. You could quit Batman altogether, and do horrid films based on John Grisham's horrible novels. You could decide to live like a monk. Or you could go see Batman: Subzero and do the character *right*.

If you made the right choice, you'd give it up and let the animated guys take over. At least let someone who *cares* about the character do it *right*.

Editor's Note: Wow Gordon. Grrrr.

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