Synopsis: Batman faces his coolest case ever when Mr. Freeze returns to Gotham City and kidnaps Batgirl. While unraveling the mystery of Batgirl's disappearance, Batman and Robin discover that she is part of Mr. Freeze's frigid plan to save his dying wife - no matter what the cost.With time running out, Batman and Robin must find Gotham's most cold-blooded villain and prevent him from putting Batgirl "on ice" forever.
Bonus Content: Includes Art of Batman: Music Montage; Get the Picture: How to Draw Batman; the film's theatrical trailer; and the Batman: The Animated Series/The New Batman Adventures/Batman Beyond "Mr. Freeze Saga" in chronological order - four episodes entitled "Heart of Ice," "Deep Freeze," "Cold Comfort" and "Meltdown." The episodes will be presented in standard definition.
Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero
Blu-ray Review by James Harvey
Perfectly timed for its 20th anniversary, Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Warner Archive, and it goes without saying that this solid animated adventure has never looked better. Warner Archive's HD remaster is another stunning piece of work with deep blacks, vibrant colors, and a stunning (though slightly flawed) video transfer. Without a doubt, this is another must-own for fans of the DC Animated Universe and Batman: The Animated Series.
To note, this review will focus primarily on the actual Blu-ray release for Batman & Mr.Freeze: Sub-Zero, with thoughts on the film itself available by clicking here. In short, Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero is a fun animated thriller, with Batman and Robin racing against the clock to save Barbara Gordon from the clutches of Mr. Freeze. The film's story is straight to the point, feeling trimmed down in order to really heighten the drama and intensity of the situation Batgirl finds herself in, and it's effective. The pace is brisk and rarely lets up, features some crucial character moments, and is riddled with great action beats and some absolutely stellar animation. And, man, does that animation look stunning with this new HD remaster.
Honestly, the vast majority of this review will just spent talking about how fantastic the new HD remaster looks. It's apparent right away, too. It looks clear right from the start, but it really hits hard when we get that first scene of the submarine interior in the opening sequence. The lighting scheme used in there absolutely pops off the screen. And those few short scenes are a taste of what to expect when it comes to how amazing this film looks. You want Batman's eyes to look the whitest they've ever looked? Look no further. Want to be blinded by the bright white flashes of Freeze's gun? Right here!
As you can assume from the previous paragraph, yes, the video transfer is pretty stunning. Much like with Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, it was like watching this movie again for the first time. The movie looks cleaner, brighter and the detail is so good at times its distracting. There were many, many times I found myself not watching the movie, but just...watching the video transfer. The dust marks, the scratches, the little animation mistakes and flubs, everything is so clear to the point it's hypnotic. Background paintings that you never really paid attention to just pop all that more now. The orange skies in the Arctic, when we first meet Fries, look great - and that's just the first few minutes!
The climactic battle, riddled with explosions and copious freeze gun usage, is another little bit of eye candy that's near impossible to turn away from. It's pretty astonishing to see just how clean this movie - twenty years old and put together before computer coloring took over - looks and just how well it holds up (and gives us a taste of what we can expect from the upcoming Batman: The Animated Series Blu-ray releases). The hand-painted background and cel work, the roughness of it, it's quite the sight. With Batman: Mask of the Phantasm first and now Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero, it's a joy to see these titles get some spectacular treatment.
As fantastic as this video transfer is, it's not perfect as there are times when the remaster process appears to blur some of the film grain. As a result, there are moments when the blurred grain jumps across the screen and looks more like transfer flaws as opposed to natural film grain. It's not a consistent problem, just mostly popping up at random moments. For example, it'll appear in Barbara Gordon's hair in some scenes, or when we see 2D animated elements mixed with CG-animated elements.
Aside from that, the transfer is gorgeous and as clear and detailed as one could possibly want. In fact, the transfer is so good that viewers will likely catch little animation mistakes they never noticed before. Some of the 2D/3D elements not really mixing together properly also stands out a little more, as does some of the iffy 3D animation work. For instance, when the Sub-Zero logo first appears in the movie, take a closer look at it. The logo font is riddled with jagged edges, something I didn't even notice on the DVD release!
As for audio quality, Warner Archive has given Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero a very strong two-channel audio mix. While it is disappointing that the 5.1 audio mix - made along with a widescreen transfer for the film's release ages ago on Laserdisc - is not included, what we do get here is solid. The DTS-HD 2.0 mix does play with the sound, with noises and dialogue occasionally coming from either the left or the right side (moving objects zipping through the screen, background noises, background dialogue, etc.), though the majority of dialogue and sound effects come straight through the two channels, sounding crisp, clear and at times boisterous. The oil rig climax sounds appropriately epic.
In terms of bonus content, Warner Archive ports over a couple of the features included in the original Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero DVD release and adds a nice helping of very topical bonus episodes. The ported over content, all in standard definition, includes "The Art of Batman: Music Montage," "Get the Picture: How to Draw Batman" and the film's home video trailer. "Music Montage" is a super brief look at production artwork for the film mixed with clips from the movie, all set to a dance beat. "How to Draw Batman" is a fast-paced peek at someone sketching Batman's head. The home video trailer is just that, though it's slightly altered at the end to remove the "coming to home video" quote and text.
Warner Archive's Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero Blu-ray also includes four episodes from Batman: The Animated Series/The New Batman Adventures and Batman Beyond - "Heart of Ice," "Deep Freeze," "Cold Comfort" and "Meltdown" - under the banner "The Mr. Freeze Saga." These episodes, paired with the movie, offers up the entire animated story of Mr. Freeze. It's a smart idea and it works wonderfully. The episodes are presented in standard definition, but still look solid - especially the latter The New Batman Adventures and Batman Beyond installments. It may not be new content, but it's a smart use of the episodes and supports the main feature. Bonus episodes are nothing new as extra content for DC Animated releases such as this, but I found the use of episodes here to be the most effect use of such content to date.
Unquestionably, Warner Archive has created another Blu-ray release that fans of Batman: The Animated Series and the DC Animated Universe should be adding to their collection. Not only is it another look at what's to come with Batman: The Animated Series coming to Blu-ray later this year, but it's a solid product all it's own. A riveting animated adventure beautifully remastered, Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero has never looked or sounded better. To those thinking about skipping this release since they already own Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero on DVD, I strongly urge you to reconsider. Much like Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the HD remaster is at times jaw-dropping. Colors are full and deep, looking cleaner and clearer than they ever have. It simply looks amazing and is an undeniable upgrade. If you want to watch the best possible version of Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero available, look no further. Must Own!
Warner Archive "Coming Soon" Teaser
Original Home Video Trailer