DVD Review - Son of Batman

This movie is an animated companion piece for movies like Kick-Ass and Hanna, which were films that make killers out of children. Children in all three are highly-trained, martial artists who go as far as killing their adversaries. The difference here is to underscore that children should learn that killing isn't the answer. The other two don't really emphasize the argument against children as killers. Here, at least, Damian Wayne who is the titular character and still very much prepubescent, probably no older than 13, kills first out of self-defense. Later, however, he goes on a kick for vengeance, while Batman reinforces how murder or even the potential for killing has to be resisted.

One example is that Batman tells Damian to fight without his sword, so that he doesn't even have the urge to use it. The fights in this movie involve swordplay that results in bloody kills, and director Ethan Spaulding and his animators don't shy away from splattering red all over the screen. At times, the movie is even gory. Batman, despite his dark and scary persona, stands as a moral authority that opposes this blood and gore.

Jason O'Mara (Life on Mars and Terra Nova) voices Batman. His vocal performance will probably never overtake Kevin Conroy, but he picks up reasonably well from Justice League: War, which was the previous DC Comics Animated Feature that also had O'Mara in the same role. Stuart Allan voices Damian and does a good job of portraying this boy as aloof, arrogant and unimpressed with Batman. Their dynamic is interesting and representative of many father-son relationships.

There is a parallel to the childhood of Damian to Batman's childhood. This is reinforced when Damian takes on the role of Robin. Obviously, he's not the first Robin, so seeing Batman in a fatherly role is not new territory but supposedly there is a deeper resonance because Damian is of blood relation.

Thomas Gibson (Criminal Minds) voices Deathstroke, the principal villain. The parallels between his back story and what he wants are compelling when pitted against the protagonists. I'm not sure his ultimate goal and plan are logical and because we get so little time with Deathstroke's father-figure, namely Ra's Al Ghul, voiced by Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), I didn't fully feel why Deathstroke does what he does.

Vocal performances from Sean Maher (Firefly) who plays Nightwing and Morena Baccarin (Homeland) who plays Talia Al Ghul are great as well.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for stylized violence including bloody images, and some suggestive material.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 14 mins.


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