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Son Of Batman (Blu-ray Review)

Son-Of-BatmanThe DC animated universe follows up its Justice League: War film with Son Of Batman.  This is of course based of the comic arc where Batman discovers he has a son named Damian with Ra’s al Ghul daughter Talia.  The film has been available for digital download since last Tuesday.  Last week, Why So Blu’s very own Aaron Neuwirth had the privilege and pleasure of getting to see a screening of the film at WonderCon.  You can read his thoughts on the film by clicking right HERE.  Its pretty cool that he gets to see the film that way since these are really straight-to-video affair.  Son Of Batman will street this Tuesday May 6 and you can be sure to pre-order it at the end of this review of mine.

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Film 

Unknown to him, Bruce Wayne has himself a son with his nemesis Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter Talia.  Damian Wayne has been raised up by al Ghul’s League of Assassins.  A violent upbringing, with the hopes that one day he will take over Ra’s reign since his ideal fit, Batman, has no interest.  That day comes when Ra’s al Ghul’s former right hand man, Deathstroke, returns to exact an attack on the League of Assassins leaving Ra’s apparently dead, too far gone for his Lazarus pit to resurrect him.  Talia takes her son to meet his father, where Bruce takes it on himself to show Damian the error of his violent ways and teach him a new sense of justice and to prevent him from seeking and executing revenge on Deathstroke.

Batman And Son was a story arc I had heard about in the comics but never myself read.  The story of Batman having a son who would become the next iteration of Robin.  While it sounds like a last ditch attempt as something fresh, from what I gather from the bonus interviews, this character actually was quite a strong one and seemingly very popular, placing in the top 25 DC comic heroes list made by IGN.  And also, when it comes to Batman having offspring and handling the drama that comes with that, showcasing Bruce Wayne as an actual father and just a surrogate, I say why not.

The main arc of the film played pretty well with me.  It was just that a lot of the film felt like it had too many detailed side gags going on.  I mean, we have Ra’s al Ghul, the League Of Assassins, Deathstroke, Killer Croc, manbats and more piled on into this film.  I’m not sure how the comic went, but I can’t imagine it tried to weave in all of this Batman lore into a short story.  And if they did include this stuff, I’m sure it played well over the course of so many issues as opposed to a film that’s barely over an hour (the credits are pretty long to this as).  Some of it felt superfluous and others kinda forced.  Its not all horrible by any means, it just felt like they were trying to check off too much stuff from the Batman list.

Jason O’Mara returns for his second stint as Batman and he’s ok.  I guess I’m just not fully sold on the guy yet.  I know Batman doesn’t call for much, but it feels like he’s hanging back and underplaying it too much.  One thing that felt weird was Thomas Gibson as Deathstroke as his voice sounded eerily similar to Kevin Conroy’s in a lot of parts and I almost began rooting against our heroes because of it.  Morena Baccarin makes for a pretty good Talia, while Giancarlo Esposito is fun, but not present for too long as Ra’s al Ghul.  Also, Browncoats will recognize Sean Maher as Nightwing.

Son Of Batman is another solid DC animated film.  I felt like there was a lot of side details that felt unnecessary, but overall I was enjoying myself.  This film has an incredibly violent and bloody opening that sucked me right in.  I did find it funny though that we open the film with ninjas being brutally massacred with plenty of graphic violence and blood flowing onscreen, yet later in the film when a group of guys free fall from high up in the sky, they all are conveniently located above a big body of water.  Make up your mind violence!  Anywho, solid move.  Give it a try if you’re curious.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1:78.1

Clarity/Detail:  Clarity is great.  The image is the 3 C’s.  Clean, clear and crisp.  Detail is what it is, this is 2D animation so everything is rather smooth and untextured.

Depth:  Depth is solid.  There’s an absolutely incredible 3D moment with the shot of Arkham Asylum’s front gate in the foreground during a storm with the building in the background.  There’s a terrific depth of field there.

Black Levels:  Blacks are super rich and a major part of the film.  There is a good palette of different shades of black and no crushing was witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are bold and pronounced.  While this is Batman’s world so everything is gloomy, colors other than blacks still pop like the blood that just flows out of the ninjas as they are sliced apart.

Flesh Tones:  N/A

Noise/Artifacts:  None witnessed.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s):  English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Castilian) 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles:  English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics:  There is a good balance between voice, score and effects here.  The effects are all full sounding and distinct.  There’s not a whole lot of volume play with distance and such in the film, but it does give a good sense of place.

Low Frequency Extension:  The subwoofer has a solid impact.  Not a heavy one, but one that’s pretty solid and you feel its impact during explosions, shots and punches.

Surround Sound Presentation:  The rear speakers are used primarily for ambiance, but play a solid factor during some storms.  Mainly used for ambient noise and muted score.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clear and crisp.  Never drowned out of distorted.  Front and center.

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Extras 

In addition to the Blu-ray, this release comes with a DVD copy and UltraViolet copy of the film.

The Fang And The Demon Head: The League Of Assassins (HD, 10:10) – Talking heads (including Grant Morrison) discuss the origins and roots of the characters and arcs that appear in the film.

Strange Blood Ties: Damian Wayne (HD, 15:12) – A guide through the history of Damian Wayne in the comics with writers and such discussing his place in the legend and his legacy.

Designing The Characters With Phil Bourass (HD, 9:37) – A sort of commentary style piece that has Phil Bourass talking over sketches, art and scenes about the design on the people in the film.

A Sneak Peek At DCU Batman: Assault On Arkham (HD, 7:24) – An inside look at the upcoming animated film to serve as a prequel to the popular Arkham Asylum games.

From DC Comics Vault – 4 full episodes from past Batman animated shows.

  • Batman Beyond, “Out Of The Past” (HD, 21:02)
  • Batman: The Brave And The Bold, “The Knights Of Tomorrow!” (HD, 23:04)
  • Batman: The Animated Series, “Showdown” (HD, 21:12)
  • Batman: The Brave And The Bold, “Sidekicks Assemble!” (HD, 22:50)

Trailers – Justice League: War, Beware The Batman, Teen Titans Go!, Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy, DC Collectibles

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Summary 

Warner Brothers brings Son Of Batman to Blu-ray with a terrific presentation and loaded with plenty of supplemental material.  I really like that they stick high definition versions of their classic animated series on these releases (but maybe can we get a couple seasons of Batman: The Animated Series on Blu-ray if you’re taking the time?).  This is a pretty hard charged film and another solid entry to the DC animated canon.  Its nothing outstanding, but an amusing journey nonetheless.

Son-Of-Batman-Blu-ray

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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