THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
"SON OF BATMAN"
Son of Batman - Own it on Blu-Ray May 6
Throughout Batman history, Robin has always been like a son to the Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne took Dick Grayson under his wing, acting as both mentor and father figure. The DC Universe animated feature Son of Batman, on DVD and Blu-Ray May 6, gives him a biological child. There are no gizmos on his utility belt to help with parenthood, but fortunately for Batman, the kid requires guidance in areas he's very skilled with.
The story begins at Ra's al Ghul's mountaintop compound, where the League of Shadows maintains a base of operations. Ra's and his daughter Talia (voiced by Morena Baccarin) are training an army of assassins, with plans to eventually create a new world order. Among them is Talia's young son Damian (Stuart Allan). An uprising topples the balance of power there, so Talia ships Damian off to Gotham City so that his father can look after and protect him. Batman is, to say the least, surprised to find out that he has a child. Equally surprising is that Damian is preternaturally skilled when it comes to fighting and weapons use. The kid also has a chip on his shoulder. Batman vows to teach him restraint, and gets a good opportunity while fighting against the evil villain known as Deathstroke. Dick Grayson, in his guise as Nightwing, is alternately amused and dismayed to discover that the Dark Knight now has a new sidekick.
Son of Batman has an engrossing take on the Dark Knight. Oftentimes, adding a kid to the mix is a sign of desperation, but in this case it allows for some further examination of the character. What does Batman have to offer a child? While he may not be a conventional parent, he does have self-control, a strong sense of right and wrong, and a feeling for what constitutes appropriate justice. These are the very things Damian needs. The movie gets mileage out of putting Batman into this situation where he has to pass along what he's got and hope that it brings a positive outcome. The idea is mixed with the kind of detailed, stylized animation that is part and parcel of the DC Universe pictures, as well as some very well-executed action sequences.
A few minor things are troubling. For starters, the dialogue suggests that Batman is a father because Talia essentially date-raped him. That idea is a little heavy for a movie of this nature, and it also feels a bit false. Batman is always on guard; would he really fall for something as simple as someone slipping him a mickey? Also, Stuart Allan has too chirpy a voice to be completely credible as the troubled Damian. He always sounds like a kid pretending to be tough, rather than a tough kid.
Those qualms aside, there's plenty to enjoy in Son of Batman. The DC Universe movies have generally been of high quality, and this is another fine entry. The Blu-Ray comes with a nice assortment of bonus features, too. “Strange Blood Ties” is a featurette all about the character of Damian, while “Designing the Characters with Phil Bourassa” looks at, well, the character design. You also get “The Fang and the Demon Head: The League of Assassins,” which focuses on Ra's al Ghul. There's additionally a sneak peak of the next DC Universe film, Batman: Assault on Arkham and four bonus cartoons from the DC vaults.
( out of four)
Son of Batman is rated PG-13 for stylized violence including bloody images, and some suggestive material. The running time is 1 hour and 14 minutes.
Buy a copy of my book, "Straight-Up Blatant: Musings From The Aisle Seat," on sale now at Lulu.com! Paperback and Kindle editions also available at Amazon.com!