DCU: Son of Batman [Blu-ray] (2014)

Actors: Jason O'Mara, Stuart Allan, Thomas Gibson, Morena Baccarin, Dee Bradley Baker
Director: Ethan Spaulding
Format: Animated, Blu-ray, Full Screen, NTSC, Widescreen
Language: English
Region: A/1
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Number of discs: 2
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: May 6, 2014
Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 6, 2016
Run Time: 74 minutes




With a title such as Son of Batman you’d be expecting some more kiddy-friendly material, but this latest made-for-DVD animated effort by Warner Home Video is simply too violent and bloody for younger viewers.

Instead, like most DC Universe original movies, it seems to be aimed at adult comic book fans. There are loads of sword and handgun action with copious amounts of cartoon blood as well as some “adult” innuendos which would go over the head of most younger viewers, but which parents probably wouldn’t want to explain to their offspring.

Like many previous DCU flicks, Son of Batman is based on existing comic book titles, in this case, the 2006 Batman and Son comic book arc written by Grant Morrison. In it, Batman discovers that he unwittingly has a 10-year-old son named Damian after a one-night stand with Talia al Ghul, arch-villain Ra's al Ghul’s daughter. (If you’re a bit rustic on Batman lore, Ra's al Ghul is the master assassin villain played by Liam Neeson in Batman Begins.)

“One-night stand” might not be the right term here. It is insinuated that Batman may have been the victim of date rape as Talia slipped him some potion to make him, er, more amenable to Talia’s charms. See what we mean by “adult innuendos”? (What his problem with the amply bosomed Talia might be is a bit beyond us. Each time the character appeared with her low cleavage this reviewer couldn’t help but exclaim “boobs!” aloud.)

Batman is left to look after Damian whilst Talia is off to avenge her father’s murder at the hands of a senior citizen villain named Deathstroke. About halfway into the story, Nightwing (who used to be Robin) shows up to help out too.

I haven’t read Morrison’s original comic book series and therefore can’t comment on how closely this movie sticks to the source material and whether it will piss off anal comic book fans or not. However, the movie’s schizophrenic approach presents several problems. On the one hand, it is pretty violent and obviously aimed at grownups. On the other hand, there is a lot of silliness such as a secret James Bond-style undersea base in shark-infested waters and a Gatling gun firing arrows not to mention an annoying child sidekick, which might put off more serious comic book fans.

WORTH IT? Ultimately, Son of Batman is a mixed bag. The animation is pretty decent and better than some previous DCU efforts. The story however feels fragmented and Jason O'Mara as the Irish brogue voice of Batman feels, well, wrong.

RECOMMENDATION: Grownup comic book fans have been spoiled throughout the past few years by regular full-length animated movies such as Son of Batman. However, one can’t help but wonder whether some more kid-friendly material might be in order to attract new future fans instead of appealing to ageing existing fans. Just a thought.



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