Canister X Movie Review #7: Batman and Mr. Freeze: SubZero (1998)
Written by Boyd Kirkland and Randy Rogel
Directed by Boyd Kirkland
Runtime 70 min.
4 out of 5
In an effort to save his dying wife, Nora, Victor Fries (aka Mr. Freeze) kidnaps Barbara Gordon, Commissioner Gordon’s daughter because his wife needs an organ transplant and Barbara possesses the same rare blood type as his ailing wife. Batman and Robin are quickly hot on his tail and soon it’s a game of cat and mouse between the Dynamic Duo and Mr. Freeze as our heroes seek to find Barbara before it’s too late and she falls victim to Mr. Freeze’s evil plan.
After the amazing thrill that was Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, and when I heard they were making another Batman animated movie, I was pumped. Mask of the Phantasm was insanely good and since SubZero was to be done in the same style by the same people, my expectations were high. While not as good as Phantasm, SubZero is still a solid flick. What makes it cool is it’s a team-up movie because Batman’s joined by Robin, something Phantasm didn’t have. You also get to briefly see Batgirl in costume in this one as well.
Mr. Freeze is a tricky bad guy because while powerful, you take away his freeze gun and he’s got nothing and it’s easy to turn him into a one-trick-pony that way and diminish the complicated character that he is. Not in SubZero. You get to see Mr. Freeze for who he is under that armor and, well, he’s just a heartbroken guy who’s doing what he believes is the right thing. So distraught over his wife’s fatal illness but brilliant enough to figure out a cure, he’s willing to stop at nothing to save the woman he loves, even if that means killing an innocent person in the process. For those who have gone through immense heartbreak, you know how easy it is for unclear thinking to reign and how nothing but emotion takes over.
This flick also showed how Batman and Robin feed off each other and work together, and not in that “Way to go, chum” way that was the staple of the 1960s Batman series. You see two professional crime fighters playing off each other’s strengths, giving each other ideas, each keeping the other encouraged and balanced as they fight the good fight.
There was also some 3D animation in this movie, back when 3D was a new thing. While the 3D parts didn’t blend against the 2D as seamlessly as they do nowadays, it did add a “wow” factor to the flick—for its time—and kept Batman on the cutting edge of animation.
I’m really pleased with this movie and it gets better with each viewing, and with an ending that is both sad but satisfying, Batman and Mr. Freeze: SubZero is a Bat-movie that should be part of any Bat-fan’s collection.