Son Of Batman (2014)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 5/14/14
Cast: Jason O'Mara, Stuart Allen, Morena Baccarin

Back in 1987, a Batman graphic novel called "Son Of The Demon" came out, in which Talia Al Ghul became pregnant with Bruce Wayne's son. This animated film continues that storyline with a young Damian Wayne (Stuart Allen) being trained by Ra's Al Ghul as an expert assassin and groomed to inherit his empire. When Al Ghul's stronghold is overpowered by enemy forces, Talia (Morena Baccarin) and Damian flee to Gotham City where Batman (Jason O'Mara) meets his secret son for the first time. Naturally, there is a lot of friction and cultural differences between the two of them, but Batman recognizes Damian's raw skill and eventually takes him on as the new Robin (more in an effort to keep an eye on him and keep him out of trouble, I'm guessing). The film culminates in a battle of revenge between Damian and Deathstroke, while Batman, Talia, and Nightwing have bigger problems to deal with.

As with most DC animated films, the animation is quite good and the voice acting is on the mark. Unfortunately, Jason O'Mara sounds too flat to me, and both his Batman and Bruce Wayne sound dry and dull. As far as I'm concerned, no one will ever top Kevin Conroy's definitive performance. Stuart Allen gives an excellent performance as an annoying and precocious squeaky teenager, and Morena Baccarin embodies the deadly and seductive Talia Al Ghul with a strong and sensual presence. The music is also on par with other DC animated titles, and gives the production an appropriately bold flavor.

This is by far the most violent DC animated film I've seen, and the initial assault on Ra's Al Ghul's compound is shockingly bloody as dozens of people get shot and sliced apart at close range with reckless abandon. Damian is quite proficient with the sword, so there's lots of slice and dice action throughout. The most gruesomely shocking moment happens to be when Batman is interrogating Killer Croc, which left me slack-jawed in horror and disbelief for quite some time. I was pleased to see Talia being a total bad-ass, and more than anything I feel like the film is an action showcase for her. She's clearly playing the entire field, and both Batman and Damian are simply tools for her to satisfy her agenda as well as her desires. The violence does go way over the top, though, and while I can forgive a lot of outrageous superhero conventions, my suspension of disbelief falls away when it comes to impalement. At one point, Damian is pinned to a wall with a sword rammed through each wrist. He somehow manages to free himself, and continues to fight as if nothing happened. Not taking into consideration shock, trauma, and blood loss, both of these impalements apparently missed cutting any major arteries, nerves, tendons, muscle, or bones. He shouldn't have been able to even use his hands, let alone make a fist or hold a sword. So yeah, that really bothered me. Despite Damian's annoying personality and some narrative deficiencies, I enjoyed "Son Of Batman", but it made me long for the original character designs and voice cast for "Batman: The Animated Series."