Ok, so physical release on DVD/Blu-Ray has been out for some time, it seems it is safe for me to finally review this film now, especially given it’s leak online pre Wondercon, Wondercon premiere. First!, i must fess up, i downloaded this the day it leaked…. yeah, pirating is bad, and as someone who works in the entertainment field i get how awful that can be-however- as soon as Itunes had it i went ahead and bought the full on HD copy (especially for the extras, i’m a sucker for that type of content). I do, also plan on getting the physical copy, why? because i’m a nut that is why!. Ok, with that out of the way i must say this film is overall… enjoyable…
There are certain things Marvel and DC have over each other. I think any fan with enough years in comic book fandom will tell you that while WB has been extremely slow on getting their act together for live action films, their DC animated movies and series have blown most if not all of Marvel’s attempts into animation over the course of the last decade plus out of the water. Needless to say with titles like Under the Red Hood, Mask of the Phantasm, Return of the Joker, Flashpoint Paradox, and more, any future or current animated feature coming out of WB animation has got a lot to live up to. The recent departure of Bruce Timm from the animation department at good ole Warner Bros has definitely been felt of late. Now i’m hesitant to completely bash Justice League War but lets be honest it wasn’t a strong film, in fact it was rather disappointing and to many a major let down after Flashpoint but it did have its moments, for whatever reason-however- it never quite seemed to get its act together. A rushed plot and some odd choices in art and character personalities left me with a sour taste for it. Flash forward (no pun intended) to Son of Batman and i must say it is a bit of an improvement from War though not quite the thought provoking or deep emotional rides that were some of the earlier mentioned titles.
I don’t hate Jason O’ Mara’s take on the Dark Knight, but rather enjoy the change in voices. I think it will always be hard for anyone to fill the giant shoes left by the ever awesome Kevin Conroy in any Batman voice gig. O’Mara gives it his all here and is definitely a lot more (seemingly) comfortable in the roles than his performance in Justice League War which wasn’t bad per se but was definitely a bit lacking compared to this. Given time, i’m confident this iteration of the Caped Crusader’s voice will become much more well received. As for plot; Batman takes a bit of a backseat for quite a bit of the story here and I’m largely okay with that here for a number of reasons but what he does end up doing seems to be in line with the character, except for one thing. it’s a glaring flaw to me: he lets Damian confront Deathstroke on his own in the finale, doesn’t even hurry to see if his son is ok. I found this to be a bit bizarre given Bruce’s earlier trouble with the boy in making him see his views on killing. To make matters worse here, he lacks action after his son explicitly swears that he will “end him”. Its a rather weak moment for the Bats, in my opinion, I’d buy that he has faith in his son doing the right thing if we had seen that relationship develop more than we did, but as it stands, it seems unbelievable and bad judgement on the hero’s part.
Stuart Allen made an excellent choice when it came to choosing his approach on Damian. While there is no way to compare this to any other performance (aside from the incarnation of him in Brave and the Bold ) i think this was just about as good as you’d want. Damian is an arrogant brat with a sympathetic backstory loaded with emotional baggage. Not all of that is explored here, but what little is, is actually not badly portrayed. Stuart brings a high level energy to the role, and Damian’s voice is for the better because of it, he comes across as legitimate and you buy the performance a quarter into the film. I’d also like to point out that this seems to be one of the rare instances in animation where a young male character is actually played/voiced by a little boy rather than a grown woman. Damian goes through the bigger story arc here, and thank god, i mean, it is is his show after all, so great. This piece is definitely leaning more towards the Pete Tomasi Damian who comes across as more bearable than the way Grant Morrison wrote him in the story this is supposed to be based on (Batman and Son). My only real complaint is that the character’s actions in taming himself towards the end of the film came across as forced, and it is probably because we saw very little Father-Son exchanges on Batman’s part. This would always be an issue because of the running time of these pieces but if WB animation wanted us to fully buy this dynamic we could have seen the time spent more wisely.
So… Whats the plot? well, its pretty simple; Deathstroke attacks the League of Assassins, kills Ra’s, and attempts to end his bloodline so that he alone may control the league. Talia sets out to stop him, but not before springing the news of a having a son to Batman, who then takes care of the boy for the time being, hoping to tame him of his bloodthirsty ways. However, after Talia is captured and Batman delves deeper into investigating the murder of Ra’s we get into the inevitable confrontation between Deathstroke and the Bat. Yeah, plot could use some work and this is nowhere near the best WB has to offer but its also not the worst.
Son of Batman stands on its own, and delivers a tolerable story with some great performances. Hardcore Bat-fans will definitely find something to like here and the climactic battle between Damian and Deathstroke is one of the better animation sequences from WB’s animation department thus far. I do have a list of issues with this film, yes. However the mere fact that this is the animated debut of one of my favorite characters makes me happy that the performance here is actually quite good. With Damian’s rising popularity, Peter Tomasi’s Hunt for Robin story coming to a close, and Robin Rising just weeks away, this fan can only hope for a certain BIG, SUPER, MEGA, ULTRA, Bat event soon.
Rating: As for a rating, i’d say its around a 7/10 for me.