View Poll Results: Rate and Comment on the "Son of Batman" Animated Feature
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Better late than never:
After the underwhelming (or perhaps over-bearing) nature of Justice League: War, it would be easy to forgive anyone looking forward to a more contained, satisfying Batman adventure. After all, my interests primarily lie with The Dark Knight and this feature seemed to be filled with exciting potential. The title alone raises an eyebrow, but once you throw in international terrorists, femme fatales, exotic locations and giant Bat-Creatures, you can't help but feel that your in for a fun ride. Sadly, Son Of Batman squanders it's potential, resulting in one of the most disappointing entries in the DC Universe line so far.
The feature claims to be based on the recent 'New 52' initiative, but that link (apart from some updated costumes) seems tenuous at best. Son Of Batman actually takes it's cues from the 2006 Grant Morrison penned Batman and Son – a four issue tale, illustrated by Andy Kubert that punched fanboys in the face with the shocking arrival of Bruce Wayne's biological son, Damian. Naturally, fans despised the insolent, violent child without hesitation. However, after eight years of constant exposure and along with some of Morrison's skilled capability at handling characterization (Talia Al Ghul excluded), most warmed to this precocious new Robin and felt a strong pang of grief when he was brought to a bloody end earlier last year.
It was quite a story, so it's no surprise that the crew behind the DC Universe animated features decided to mine it for the DVD line. The screenplay remains relatively faithful to Morrison's vision, apart from two significant additions. The first is the inclusion of Deathstroke and his desire for revenge. Personally, I found the character to be one of the weakest elements of the movie. His motivations were merely perfunctionary and he was graced with one of the worst voices to ever appear in a DC DVD. Gibson was hammy, stilted and downright laughable in his performance. A rare miss for Andrea Romano. The other change to the source material was substituting Tim Drake for Dick Grayson/Nightwing. This was a more welcome addition, as it cut out all the unnecessary fat of explaining the Robin legacy. You simply do not have time for such meandering diversions in a 75 minute movie.
Overall, the characterizations seemed to be somewhat off. Batman was far too non-chalant at discovering he had a son and Talia too cold-hearted/manipulative to both her son and Bruce Wayne. Her reconciliation with Bruce at the end didn't seem justified in the least. If the writer wanted us to feel that these two were star-crossed lovers, then he didn't give us enough pieces to fit that puzzle together. On top of all that, while Damian is fighting for his life against Deathstroke, Batman is just lying around having a clichéd and under-developed romantic moment with Talia. Um, Bruce, your son is about to be killed... how about you at least try to save him? Joe R. Lansdale is usually an exceptional writer, capable of blending genres with humour, mystery, tension and action all rolled into one. He produced some of the best episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, so I'll always value him highly, but this, unfortunately, was not his best work.
The animation and designs were merely serviceable. Phil Bourassa has been a fan-favourite for years now, but his recent experimental work isn't entirely to my tastes. He is veering more and more towards animé styling, a problem only exasperated by The AnswerStudio, who often animates the characters with an eastern vibe and weird mouths/mouth movements. The feature does look quite nice overall (some of the backgrounds are quite stunning), but it all comes across as very average in the end.
The voicework doesn't fare much better. As I mentioned, Andrea Romano must have been having an off week when she assembled this cast. Jason O Mara is gradually improving as the Caped Crusader, but his delivery is often-times too lethargic. Yes, I suppose he is going for a gruff, quiet tone, but it needs more light and shade if he's ever going to become a memorable Batman. Stuart Allan was surprisingly effective as Damian Wayne. I'm not sure I had a distinct voice in my head when reading the comics, but he did a pretty good job capturing the bratty personality. Morena Baccarin was asleep at the wheel, Giancarlo Esposito may be my least favourite Ra's Al Ghul voice and Xander Berkeley made no real impression as Langstrom.
This is also one of the rare times that I don't have much to say about the score. Frederik Wiedmann delivered an effective, if not entirely memorable, effort. I'm usually singing his praises, so I was hoping for a little more if I'm being honest.
This movie should have delivered a lot more than it did and could have been one of the most entertaining DC features thanks to it's unique source material. Sadly, it just kind of sits flat on the screen. I don't want to be too negative as there is still fun to be had – great fight choreography, nice Batman/Gordon moments, a highly sarcastic Alfred and a wonderfully creepy scene in Arkham Asylum (using one of my favourite Asylum designs from the old The Batman cartoon). It's certainly not the most boring or forgettable DC Universe movie, not with Green Lantern: Emerald Knights and Superman: Unbound in the line, but it is one of the most underwhelming and disappointing. What should have been a riveting James Bond-ian adventure wrapped in a Batman cape, is instead a bit of a jumbled mess, with inconsistent storytelling, average animation, poor voice-acting and a bland score. Oh well, here's hoping Batman versus Robin will fare much better.
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