Although hardly the strongest in the long line of DC Universe Animated Movies, Son of Batman still has a few things going for it from the animation, save for a couple lousy shots, and an interesting story that probably could’ve been expanded to make it more dynamic. On the negative side, I’m still not in love with Jason O’Mara’s voice as Bruce Wayne/Batman (carried over from Justice League: War) but it’s not as grating this go around.
Son of Batman
Genre(s): Animated, Action, Adventure
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 74 min. – $24.98 | May 6, 2014
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
Son of Batman marks the second movie in the new DC Universe line, in the style of the New 52, and takes place in the same universe set up in Justice League: War including the return of Jason O’Mara as the voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman, a choice I didn’t like in War and didn’t too much for in SoB either, though not quite as jarring.
The film opens at a League of Assassins compound led by terrorist Ra’s Al Ghul (voiced by GIANCARLO ESPOSITO), where also daughter Talia (MORENA BACCARIN) and her son, Damian (STUART ALLAN), live and train. When the compound is attacked by Ra’s’ former right-hand man turned mercenary, Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke (THOMAS GIBSON), Ra’s is killed, along with the near annihilation of the League, and Talia decides now is a good time to go to Gotham City for the young Damian to finally meet his father…
In Gotham, Batman (O’MARA) takes on a buffed up and upgraded Killer Croc but is saved by Talia. In their meeting on her luxurious yacht, she lets him know that he has a son, conceived during a wild night which involved Talia spiking ole’ Bats drink, though he does have recollection of the glorious deeds that night.
With her life in danger, she leaves Damian to stay with Batman while she hunts down Deathstroke and in the process, Batman eventually, and quite quickly, accepts Damian as his new sidekick despite, or because of, his violent ways in the hopes of teaching the boy what is right rather than killing and murder. Batman does receive some help from former sidekick, Dick Grayson/Nightwing (SEAN MAHER), who provides much needed backup throughout the film not to mention a much needed beat down of the punk kid…
The rest of the movie finds Batman and Robin hunting down clues and tracking the elusive Deathstroke after he kidnapped Dr. Langstrom (XANDER BERKELEY) and his family to create some sort of mutant pathogen to make hideous creatures, part of which he already started with Man-Bats who make trouble for the duo.
Son of Batman is quite the mixed bag for me. On the one hand, it is an interesting story and the parallels between Damian and Bruce provides some much needed drama and yet thanks to a strict 70-minute running time, the plot doesn’t get time to breath or have a satisfying payoff in the climax where Robin takes an action that wasn’t quite earned. On the plus side, I actually didn’t mind some of the animation, save for a scene or two that did look wonky, and I’m kind of digging Batman’s design carried over from JL: War.
In terms of the voice casting, as I said, still am not enamored with Jason O’Mara’s interpretation of Batman, his Bruce seems fine, but it appears Warner Bros. Animation has taken this route and we might be stuck with him (although looking at the preview for the next, Kevin Conroy returns!). Stuart Allan as Damian is fine even if the character is an annoying little sh** and Thomas Gibson (from “Criminal Minds” is serviceable in the villain role, even if the character is one-dimensional. Finally, Morena Baccarin provides the right balance of sensuality – the animators must have had a field day animating her cleavage – with kick-assery and conviction with the belief in her father’s legacy.
Overall, Son of Batman is certainly one of the weaker outings of the DCUA line but it’s still fairly entertaining with some well done action scenes and fun, dry humor. It’s not as good as The Flashpoint Paradox or Under the Red Hood, yet nowhere near the depths of like of Doomsday, so the quality is a bit down but still not bad
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.25/5
To match the other DCAU releases, this also comes with a glossy and embossed slip cover. Inside is a regular DVD Copy and an authorization code for the Digital Copy.
The Fang and the Demon: Head: The League of Assassins (10:10; HD) examines the origins of the League and its leader, Ra’s Al Ghul, his daughter, Talia and the complex relationship they have with Batman. It features interviews with various people with DC Comics including Grant Morrison, writer of “Batman and Son”.
Strange Blood Ties: Damian Wayne (15:12; HD) looks at the Damian character and his impact in Batman’s life.
Designing the Characters (9:37; HD) has character designer Phil Bourassa breaking down how the looks and designs for the characters were done including style and costumes.
A Sneak Peek at DCU Batman: Assault on Arkham (7:29; HD) looks at the next installment in the DCU animated series line from the voice casting and animation style.
Also included are four bonus cartoons: Batman Beyond, “Out of the Past”; Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “The Knights of Tomorrow”; Batman: The Animated Series, “Showdown”; and Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “Sidekicks Assemble”
Preview – Batman: Attack on Arkham
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Son of Batman swings into action on Blu-ray presented with a 1080p high-definition transfer and a 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio. The picture, like most the DC Universe Animated movie line is good though hardly anything outstanding with some banding issues cropping up and some animated parts, like distant shots, don’t look very pretty. But close-up objects and characters are good and colors appear to be well balanced.
AUDIO – 3.75/5
Although the film does include a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, I actually found it to be fairly weak, especially early on where the action scenes hardly had any impact despite numerous explosions and it’s not that every channel wasn’t being used, it was just soft. Still later in the movie did seem to get better and dialogue levels are consistently clear throughout.
OVERALL – 3.25/5
Overall, although hardly the strongest in the long line of DC Universe Animated Movies, Son of Batman still has a few things going for it from the animation, save for a couple lousy shots, and an interesting story that probably could’ve been expanded to make it more dynamic. On the negative side, I’m still not in love with Jason O’Mara’s voice as Bruce Wayne/Batman (carried over from Justice League: War) but it’s not as grating this go around. The Blu-ray released by Warner features adequate audio/video transfers while the bonus material is pretty typical from the DCUA releases…
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.