The Son of Batman Isn’t Exactly the Good Guy
Son of Batman is supposed to be a follow-up to February’s Justice League: War. But to be honest, there’s nothing of style or substance to connect the two animated features.
As one would expect, Son of Batman is centered around Damien Wayne, the son of Batman and Talia al-Ghul. The precocious child has been raised his entire life at the al-Ghul compound. That said, Damien is a pint-sized League of Assassins member with attitude. It’s not that far of a stretch that this ten-year-old takes down grown men like a ninja.
The first act of Son of Batman is there to set the stage for Damien’s thirst for revenge. His family compound is under attack in a lengthy sequence by former right-hand man, Deathstroke. As a result, his grandfather Ra’s al-Ghul dies. There’s no Lazarus Pit to cheat death this time. He’ll eventually come back one way or another, but it’s still a decent self-containing plot point to highlight.
Realizing that Damien is in danger, Talia sends her son to Gotham City to be under of the care of his father, Batman. Batman has his own problems to deal with in Gotham. But now he’s expected to play dad to a son he’s never met. The dynamic is typical of an estranged father-son story, taking few risks along the way.
Jason O’Mara returns again to voice Batman and he’s maintains his decent voice acting from War. Unfortunately, there’s not much for O’Mara to work with as Batman plays second fiddle to Damien. There are moments here and there where O’Mara and Stuart Allen as Damien are provided some entertaining banter.
Son of Batman is simplistic by nature, but may have difficulty clicking with some fans. Son of Batman is based on the 2006 arc “Batman and Son” by Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert. But director Ethan Spaulding deviates from the source material immensely. The foundation of an estranged relationship is there, but not exactly how it’s played out in the comic.
At 74 minutes, the film is compressed down greatly. Talia al-Ghul, Nightwing and Killer Croc are tangential additions and Deathstroke lacks dimension. Instead, Spaulding concentrates on the mature themes in Son of Batman. There’s certainly enough blood being spilled to rival Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. The end result is just not equal.
The same goes for the animation, which will divide audiences. Son of Batman rides the line of anime, which is a vast contrast from War. But under Spaulding’s direction, who was involved in Avatar: The Last Airbender, the style succeeds for the majority of the film.
Son of Batman pushes DC Entertainment in the right direction with a compelling take on Damien’s addition into Batman’s life. It just takes the easy road too many times to count.
Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment doesn’t miss a beat with this vivid 1080p transfer. The contrast is highly consistent as is the black levels. Gotham, Arkham Asylum and the al-Ghul compound are eye-popping sets benefiting from the new animated style. It’s not as flashy or as visually appealing as Justice League: War, but it’s no mess either.
Warner’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5. 1 surround track is the film’s strongest asset. While not a 7.1 surround track, it’s clean and coherent. Exchanges between characters, particularly Batman and Damien are not overpowered. The audio works best during the action sequences and not so much during the few quiet scenes.
Like the previous direct-to-video releases, Warner loads Son of Batman with a satisfying amount of supplemental material. With just about two hours of bonus content, there is plenty to watch to satisfy your Batman needs. Four episodes from Batman Beyond, Batman: The Animated Series and Batman: The Brave and the Bold are fine additions if they’re not already in your collection.
Warner is also teasing their next animated release, Batman: Assault on Arkham due out in August. The trailer is a decent promotion, but nothing outstanding. The exclusive steelbook from Target is delight with a detailed glossy finish and interior character artwork.
GRADE: B (8/10)