THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
"BATMAN: BAD BLOOD"
The DC Universe turns out another solid animated Dark Knight adventure with Batman: Bad Blood, available on Blu-ray Deluxe Edition, Blu-Ray combo pack, DVD, and Digital HD February 2. The movie begins with Batman's disappearance. Nightwing (voiced by Sean Maher) tries to convince Gotham that the Caped Crusader is still around by putting on the iconic costume and driving the Batmobile. Meanwhile, he teams with young Robin (Stuart Allen) and new heroes Batwoman (Yvonne Strahovski) and Batwing (Gaius Charles) to find Batman. The villain this time around is known as Heretic, and he has a mind-control scheme that, if successful, could give him a frightening amount of power.
Aside from the typical “heroes fighting a bad guy” plot, Batman: Bad Blood looks at the concept of created families. Robin, Batwoman, Batwing, and Nightwing are all, in one respect or another, offspring of Batman. Robin – a.k.a. Damien – is a physical offspring, while the others have all been directly influenced by the Dark Knight. The film explores how these individuals, who share a common inspiration but have different means of expressing it, must find a way to work together to save the person who made all of them possible. That theme gives it a fairly complex dynamic that earns your attention.
Much of the story's drama comes from watching the characters alternately clash and collaborate. There's also plenty of action as they make their way closer to Heretic and discover the most disturbing implications of his sinister plan. As always, the animation is very good, with a lot of detail and a dark ambiance that's appropriate to Batman mythology. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Bad Blood is that it builds on previous installments Son of Batman and Batman vs. Robin. So much is made of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but what DC is doing with these animated features is much more organic.
At just 72 minutes, Bad Blood doesn't achieve great levels of depth. There's also the issue, present in the last film as well, of Stuart Allen being miscast as Robin. The young actor has a chirpy, Disney Channel voice that doesn't work with the angry quality Robin is supposed to have here. Even when dropping some mild profanities, he sounds more cheerful than tough. If you can live with those minor flaws – and there's no reason not to – then Batman: Bad Blood is an entertaining adventure that delivers a classic hero, as well as some appealing new ones.
( out of four)
Batman: Bad Blood comes to Deluxe Edition Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray combo pack, DVD, and Digital HD on Feb. 2. The Blu-Ray contains several bonus features, including the requisite “From the DC Comics Vault.” In this case, you get two episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, entitled “The Knights of Tomorrow” and “The Criss Cross Conspiracy.”
“Putting the Fight in Gotham” runs 26 minutes and presents animators and other crew personnel discussing the manner in which elaborate action scenes are staged via animation. “Expanding the Batman Family” is a 14-minute segment looking at the newer characters making their debut in Bad Blood. Finally, there's an 11-minute sneak peak at the next DC Universe feature, Justice League vs. Teen Titans.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray is excellent. The sound mix is especially effective.
Batman: Bad Blood is rated PG-13 for violence throughout and some suggestive content. The running time is 1 hour and 12 minutes.
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