DVD Review: Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero
Release Date: February 12, 2008
Distributor: Warner Home Video
· Boyd Kirkland
· Kevin Conroy
· Michael Ansara
· Loren Lester
· Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
· Mary Kay Bergman
· IMDb: Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero
by R.J. Carter
Published: February 26, 2008
"Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero" was the second full-length animated Batman adventure, which fell short of the acclaim of its predecessor, "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm." In fact, it fell short of most of the animated Batman shorts as well, suffering most likely from its close temporal association to the "Batman and Robin" movie which also featured the Mr. Freeze character. (In all fairness, this animated feature did, at least, far outpace the live-action film.)
Stylistically, the film retained much of the legendary Bruce Timm appeal, while also still holding fast to much of the look from the Batman films. And yet, the animation comes across as mostly stiff, punctuated by several moments of coolness to keep things moving along.
The film opens with Mr. Freeze (voiced by Michael Ansara) living in exile in the arctic, where he swims with polar bears. In his ice cave, he still has his beloved wife, Nora, kept in cryogenic stasis until he can find a cure for her. But when a submarine of explorers surfaces through the ice floor of his domicile, they wreck the cryo chamber. Now Mr. Freeze has a deadline for saving his wife -- and the submarine crew are simply dead.
The plot skips forward to Gotham City, where Dick Grayson (Loren Lester) and Barbara Gordon (Mary Kay Bergman) are showing signs of romantic involvement, with the blessing of both Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) and Commissioner Gordon (Bob Hastings). The couple are planning a weekend getaway which is destined to be curtailed, because Mr. Freeze has already kidnapped a former medical associate of his (drawn with eyes that make him a dead ringer for Little Orphan Annie's missing papa) to help him save Nora -- and the cure requires that Nora receive an organ transplant.
Unfortunately for Nora, there are no freshly deceased donors that match her rare blood type. Unfortunately for Barbara Gordon, she's one of the few people in the hospital database that's a match for Nora -- and Freeze doesn't mind using a live organ donor if that's what will save his wife!
Medical Match. Barbara Gordon is the right type for Mr. Freeze.
The bulk of the story that follows is Barbara attempting to escape her captors, who have her tucked away on an oil rig out at sea, while Batman and Robin chase down the clues to find out where the bad guys are hiding. And when the film hits its denouement, Nora Fries is saved by Bruce Wayne throwing money at the problem, while Victor continues to live in Arctic exile. Why he continues to be a Batman villain after this, now that his whole raison d'etre has been resolved, is a mystery.
"Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero" has been rereleased on DVD as part of a Batman Double Feature with the far superior "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm." This portion of the DVD contains a few bonus features, which boil down to a listing of the cast and crew (for those who didn't want to watch the credits scroll), a two and a half minute montage of animation clips compared to stills, a fifty-second speed sketching of Batman's head, and a multiple-choice "Hunt for Mr. Freeze" which tests your memory of the film, rewarding correct answers with clips of the movie.