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Ethan Spaulding
Jason O'Mara, Stuart Allan, Thomas Gibson, Morena Baccarin
Writing Credits:
Joe R. Lansdale (teleplay), James Robinson (story)

Batman learns he has a violent, unruly pre-teen son, secretly raised by the terrorist group the League of Assassins.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
German Dolby Digital 5.1
Castilian Spanish Dolby Stereo 2.0
Latin Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Castilian Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
Castilian Spanish
Latin Spanish

Runtime: 74 min.
Price: $24.98
Release Date: 5/6/2014

• “The Fang and the Demon Head: The League of Assassins” Featurette
• “Strange Blood Ties: Damian Wayne” Featurette
• “Designing the Characters” Featurette
• Sneak Peek at Batman: Assault on Arkham
• Four Episodes “From the DC Comics Vault”
• Trailers
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Son of Batman (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 28, 2014)

Single men love the old joke that they don’t have any kids – that they know of. Apparently that works for Bruce Wayne as well, for he learns that he sired a masculine child in 2014’s animated Son of Batman.

Led by former member Deathstroke (voiced by Thomas Gibson), a ninja army leads an assault on the League of Assassins. This appears to leave leader Ra’s al Ghul (Giancarlo Esposito) dead, and his daughter Talia (Morena Baccarin) takes over the group.

As her first action, Talia brings her son Damian (Stuart Allan) to Gotham City so he can finally meet his father, Bruce Wayne (Jason O’Mara) – aka Batman. To help hide Damian from Deathstroke, Talia leaves Damian with his dad. We follow their burgeoning relationship as well as the continued threat from Deathstroke.

As much as I enjoyed Batman Begins, I must admit I wasn’t wild about the Ra’s al Ghul aspect of that story. Going all the way back to my teenaged days as a comic book fan, Ra’s and company never did much for me. Maybe it was the mystical side of the character – I prefer Batman’s earthier foes – or the emphasis on martial arts, but the Ra’s tales usually left me cold.

I can’t say that Son changes my mind about Ra’s and his clan. Even though he doesn’t appear much in the show, Ra’s al Ghul’s influence permeates it, mainly because Damian offers such a clear extension of the Ra’s ethos. Sure, the character grows and changes along the way, but we still find a story that fits into the typical League of Assassins framework, and that’s not an orientation that I much enjoy.

Even without that element, Son falls flat for me, and the Damian character becomes a primary reason for this. As soon as he lands in Gotham, he comes across as an annoying variation on Robin, and continuing narrative events don’t alter that viewpoint – indeed, they reconfirm this analysis. I guess all the Robin characters tend toward the precocious and irritating side of the street, but Damian seems worse than the others.

The notion that Batman will partner with his son feels like nothing more than a gimmick. I know the concept wasn’t invented for this movie – it originated in the comics years ago – but it still comes across as a cheap twist without much value. Making the new Robin figure Batman’s son instead of an unrelated kid adds nothing to the proceedings – at least not as explored here. Maybe additional stories would find more merit in the connection, but I think the concept remains a quirk and not something that works for me.

The story of Son tends to be forgettable, and it doesn’t develop its characters especially well. The actors are mainly fine in their roles, though I don’t much care for O’Mara’s take on Batman/Bruce. He sounds like what he is: an Irish actor pretending to be American. He takes on a vaguely East Coast accent and never really “sounds like Batman” to me.

Son does present a smattering of good action scenes, so it doesn’t become a total loss. However, I just don’t think it gives us a whole lot of entertainment. It focuses too much on an unlikable character and lacks the usual Bat-excitement.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Son of Batman appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The picture consistently looked strong.

Sharpness excelled. The movie always came across as tight and well-defined, so don’t expect any signs of softness. Jaggies and moiré effects also remained absent, and the image lacked edge haloes or artifacts. In addition, print flaws were a non-factor and didn’t appear at any point.

In terms of colors, Son went with a dark palette that favored blues and subdued hues. The tones looked appropriate, as they showed positive richness and vivacity. Blacks were deep and tight, while shadows showed nice clarity. Across the board, the image worked well.

I thought the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Son opened up the comic book material well. The forward channels brought out the majority of the material, but the entire package added a lot to the movie. Music presented strong stereo imaging, while effects cropped up in logical spots and blended well.

The surrounds also contributed good information. For the most part, these reinforced the forward channels, but they also added a fair amount of unique material. These instances mainly occurred during storms or bigger action scenes. The back speakers brought out a nice sense of space and environment.

Audio quality always satisfied. Speech was warm and natural, without edginess or other issues. Music sounded lively and full, while effects displayed good definition. Those elements seemed accurate and dynamic. All of this led to a positive presentation that deserved a “B”.

When we shift to the set’s extras, we begin with three featurettes. The Fang and the Demon Head: The League of Assassins lasts 10 minutes, 10 seconds and includes notes from comic writer Grant Morrison, comic book historian Alan Kistler, producer James Tucker, and DC Entertainment Animation Creative Director Mike Carlin. “Fang” looks at elements of the Ra’s al Ghul character and his world. This becomes a good little primer about some of the movie’s main participants – and might be worth a look before you view Son if you’re not well-versed on this history.

For the second featurette, we get the 15-minute, 12-second Strange Blood Ties: Damian Wayne. It provides notes from Kistler, Morrison, Carlin, and Tucker as they discuss aspects of the Damian character in the comics and the movie. This one offers more spoilers than “Fang”, so I wouldn’t recommend you view it pre-Son, but if you check it out afterward, it delivers a strong overview.

Designing the Characters runs nine minutes, 37 seconds and delivers info from lead character designer Phil Bourassa. As we watch shots from the film, Bourassa tells us about how and why he chose the designs he used. Like its predecessors, this becomes a useful, engaging program.

A Sneak Peek at Batman: Assault on Arkham occupies seven minutes, 29 seconds and includes statements from Tucker, co-director Jay Oliva, voice director Andrea Romano, screenwriter Heath Corson, and actors Troy Baker and Matthew Gray Gubler. We learn about the film’s story/characters as well as cast and various production elements. It’s a promotional piece, of course, but it’s more interesting than most.

Within From the DC Comics Vault, we discover four episodes of various Batman TV series. We can watch “Out of the Past” (Batman Beyond, 21:02), “The Knights of Tomorrow!” (Batman: The Brave and the Bold, 23:04), “Showdown” (Batman: The Animated Series, 21:12) and “Sidekicks Assemble!” (Brave and the Bold, 22:50).

As expected, all of these boast some connection to the story/characters of Son. “Past” features a plot related to Talia al Ghul and her father Ra’s, and “Knights” looks at an alternate version of Damian Wayne. With “Showdown”, Ra’s combines with Jonah Hex, while “Sidekicks” shows Robin and others as they battle Ra’s and Talia.

Of this crew, “Past” seems weakest, as it presents a pretty tedious al Ghul tale. “Showdown” becomes unusual, as its focus on Ra’s and Hex means Batman gets little screentime; nonetheless, it works fairly well.

The two Bold episodes take on a more comedic/campy feel that I wouldn’t like in live-action but that seems fun in TV animated form. The series can be up and down, but I mostly enjoy the wackier orientation. Of the two Bold shows, “Knights” delivers the more enjoyable experience, as it gives us a fun alternate universe tale. “Sidekicks” offers some fun but seems less consistent.

The disc opens with an ad for Batman: Assault on Arkham. Trailers adds promos for DCU Justice League: War, Beware the Batman, Teen Titans Go!, Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy and “DC Collectibles”.

The package also includes a DVD copy of the film. It features the Assault on Arkham preview and additional trailers but lacks the other extras.

As an animated adventure, Son of Batman brings us sporadic entertainment. While it comes with some good action, the story and character elements work less well and leave this as a spotty movie. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals as well as positive audio and bonus materials. I wanted to like Son but didn’t care much for it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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