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Son of Batman (Blu-ray Review)

2 May, 2014 By: John Latchem

Street 5/6/14
$19.98 DVD
$24.98 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for stylized violence including bloody images, and some suggestive material.
Voices of Jason O'Mara, Stuart Allan, Morena Baccarin, Sean Maher, Giancarlo Esposito, Xander Berkeley, Thomas Gibson, David McCallum.

While Batman’s mission to conquer the criminals of Gotham City may have been forged by the tragic murder of his parents, it also would seem to preclude the possibility of him having a family of his own.

That’s why the idea of Batman having a secret son is such an intriguing one. But it’s also a tricky plot development to pull off, especially if it means finding a way for Bruce Wayne to be a parent without having to give up the mantle of Batman.

I think Son of Batman is able to find that balance by giving the kid a backstory that lets Bruce toe the line between both responsibilities.

Based on the 2006 “Batman and Son” story arc from the comic books, the film sets up all the particulars with ruthless efficiency. Batman’s old nemesis Ra’s al Ghul (Giancarlo Esposito) is attacked by the assassin Deathstroke (Thomas Gibson), who wants control of the League of Assassins. Standing in his way are Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter, Talia (Morena Baccarin), and her son, Damian (Stuart Allan), who is the result of a tryst Talia had with Batman (Jason O’Mara) after drugging him 10 years earlier.

As she pursues Deathstroke, she leaves Damian under the care of his father, though the boy insists on pursuing his own agenda to help his mother. After learning he has a son, Bruce’s parenting skills aren’t exactly up to snuff, but seeing as the boy has trained his whole life to be a warrior, Batman figures he can channel that energy and aggression by allowing him to serve as the new Robin.

The story moves along at a brisk pace and never fails to engage, fueled by solid character interactions and some good fight scenes. It’s also fun to see Batman in action with a Robin by his side, even though a lot of the recent movies would rather sidestep acknowledging the character’s existence.

The Blu-ray includes a couple of excellent featurettes about the comic book origins of the subjects of the film. One relates the history of the League of Assassins, the other focuses on Damian Wayne. Another featurette looks at the character animation process.

There’s also an extended preview of the next DC Universe animated movie, Batman: Assault on Arkham, which serves as a prequel to the “Arkham” video game series.

As is usual for a DC Universe release, the Blu-ray includes four bonus episodes from other DC-based animated shows. These tend to cover similar ground as the movie — in this case, that means a lot of stories involving Ra’s al Ghul.

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