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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Simply Animated: Son of Batman

LACKING
Son of Batman - Lacking

When it comes to Batman animated films, there have been three ages, if you will. The first one started with "Mask of the Phantasm" in 1993, the second age includes classics like "Batman: Under the Red Hood" and "Justice League: Doom." That brings me to the third age, and so far it hasn't been pretty. Sure, we got "Flashpoint Paradox" but recently comic book fans had to sit through "Justice League: War" and the less than stellar "Batman: Year One" and the uneven "The Dark Knight Returns." To say the least it's been a bit rocky lately for The Dark Knight. Hopefully things have bottomed out with 2014's "Son of Batman," an animated feature lacking anything close to what made earlier films featuring Batman so memorable.

"Son" is the story of Damian Wayne, the child of Talia al Ghul and Batman, who seeks vengeance for the murder of his grandfather, Ra's al Ghul by Deathstroke and a squad of renegade League of Assassin members. On the run, Talia decides it is time for Damian to meet his real father; Bruce Wayne, aka, The Batman. The film also has cameos by Commissioner Gordon, Killer Croc, and Nightwing. "Son" is based on the "Batman and Son" comic run written by Grant Morrison.

My main issue, and there are many, is Damian Wayne. I simply don't like the character. I didn't like the character in the comics (spoilers, he dies), and this animated representation doesn't help the cause for me. He's a spoiled brat, and while that is exactly who he was in the books, just seeing it on screen and hearing an annoying preteen tell Batman, or should I say, order Batman, what to do, is extremely irritating.

Speaking of Batman, hopefully this will be Jason O'Mara's last film as the voice of The Batman. It makes me yearn for the likes of Ben McKenzie and William Baldwin's vocal interpretations. O'Mara, who I'm sure is a fine human being, just doesn't have the chops to voice the Bat. It all sounds like a bad rendition of Christian Bale's "gruff" Batman voice in the Christopher Nolan films. There will always only be one Batman voice, and that is Kevin Conroy, who is thankfully coming back for the upcoming "Batman: Assault on Arkham."

I will say that the storyline is at least coherent enough to be followed. Unlike "Justice League: War" the story is streamlined and not too chaotic. And if you happen to be a Damian Wayne fan I'm sure you'll enjoy his hijinks as he tries to walk the line between justice and revenge. I also enjoyed the Anime-inspired animation and the amount of violence that "Son" included. Normally. most DC Animated fare is reasonable tame, but it seems since Christopher Nolan's Bat-films, the cartoons have followed suit in terms of tone.

Overall, "Son" is simply a ho-hum animated feature with a few decent set-pieces, but substandard voice acting. Of course this could all be coming from my overall dislike of the Damian Wayne character, but I just feel like DC Animation is going in a direction that I don't find too interesting. If you want to do a kick ass Batman flick, choose to adapt "The Court of Owls" storyline or hey, dig in the vault and finally decide to adapt "The Killing Joke." Be edgy for goodness sake, shake things up and create something truly epic. One can dream, can't they?

Fun Fact: The first reference to Damian Wayne was in 1987's "Batman" Son of the Demon."

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