Summary : Top notch voice acting can't save the film from it's boring story and lackluster animation.
Before I start the review, I just wanted to apologize for not having posted this review sooner. I started writing it when the film was released, but as you might’ve noticed, I haven’t really been writing much for the site due to a pretty busy work schedule. However, things should be getting back on schedule soon (and hopefully better than ever). Now, onto the review.
Son of Batman is the second newest DC Animated Original Movie, and I am sad to say that other than Batman: Gotham Knight, this is the worst one yet. The film has its moments, but they aren’t enough to save this mess. Being that this is only the second film in the new continuity started by Justice League: War, I’d say we’re off to a bad start.
The story is based on Grant Morrison’s Batman and Son. I have not read this story, mainly because I hate the character of Damian Wayne. I understand why people like him, but he just annoys me. Also, I find Morrison’s writing much better when he’s writing a one off or something self contained, not a monthly series that has to exist in a larger continuity. That being said, it has been a while since one of the animated features has disappointed me, so I decided to pick up the Blu-ray anyway.
One thing the film has going for it is a wonderful cast. Jason O’Mara is still finding his footing as Batman, and at times it seems like he’s doing a bad Kevin Conroy impression, but overall his performance is better here than in War. Stuart Allan’s performance as Damian fits the character perfectly, but I still don’t like that the character is poorly written. That being said, Allan makes the most out of what he was given. Giancarlo Esposito is near perfect casting for Ra’s al Ghul and makes you wish he were in the film more. Morena Baccarin is a convincing Talia. However, her Firefly costar steels the show in my opinion. Sean Maher might be my favorite portrayal of my favorite character to date. I really hope DC decides to keep using him every time the character shows up. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Thomas Gibson’s performance of Deathstroke just seems miscast. It not that he’s bad, it’s just that his voice does not suit the character. Even with that minor complaint, the good far outweighs the bad in terms of the voice acting in this film.
On the other hand, the animation is not up to par. They chose to stick with the anime style seen in previous DC Animated features. Many people have complained about it before, but I always gave it a pass; this time however, I can’t. For the first time, it really got in the way of enjoying the film. The fights are too exaggerated, which is not easy to produce in a cartoon featuring superheroes. With a better story, it’s possible that this animation style could have worked, but sadly, said story is not present.
In this film, things just happen and they happen quickly. The story is predictable, but not in a way that makes you want to keep watching. You know how it will end and you want to get to that point as soon as possible. The only thing positive I can really say about the story is that it does an excellent job of making you hate Damien.
If you’ve read my previous reviews of DC Animated Original Movies (or if you own one yourself), then you know that they are full of bonus features. Just as the film failed where other succeeded, the bonus features follow that sad example. Whereas in the past a release of a subpar film would be saved by the large amount of bonus features, that is not the case here. Only a handful of featurettes are present, none over 20 minutes. Aside from the featurettes, there are episodes from Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. The inclusion of extra episodes is always nice, but it is still no substitute for longer and better special features.
Son of Batman is definitely one of the lesser DC Animated Original Movies. It has problems a plenty that can’t be saved by a stellar voice cast. I love Batman and most of the animated films, but I think it’s time for DC to step away from making Batman and Justice League movies and try making films based on other characters. Both Batman and the Justice League have already had their own televisions series and a slew of films, and it’s time we got to see some of the lesser-known characters in the spotlight instead.