REVIEW: SON OF BATMAN / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: ETHAN SPAULDING / SCREENPLAY: JOE LANSDALE / STARRING: JASON O’MARA, STUART ALLAN, MORENA BACCARIN, THOMAS GIBSON, GIANCARLO ESPOSITO / RELEASE DATE: MAY 5TH
Yes, as the title suggests, this latest animated fare brings audiences an introduction to Damian Wayne (Allan). The lovechild of Bruce Wayne (O’Mara) and Talia al Ghul (Baccarin), this creation of Grant Morrison’s often split the comic book community. No longer with us in that medium, the expertly trained, slightly psychopathic pre-teen is now getting the small screen treatment.
When Ra’s al Ghul (Esposito) and his League of Shadows are attacked by Deathstroke (Gibson) and his cohorts, Talia makes the decision to send son Damian to Gotham City to be introduced to his father, the Caped Crusader. With Batman unaware that he even has a son at this point, the Dark Knight’s world is flipped on its head. Not only does Bruce Wayne now have a child, said sprog just so happens to have been trained by the League of Shadows from birth. With a penchant for revenge and death, much like grandfather Ra’s, the young Damian is fully prepared to take the life of any who have wronged him – in this case Deathstroke, et al – and it is down to the World’s Greatest Detective to instil a sense of morality and a willingness to do the right thing into his newly discovered offspring. Tangled up in all of this, we also have a subplot involving Kirk Langstrom (Xander Berkeley) and an army of Man-Bats, plus fleeting appearances from Dick Grayson (Sean Maher), aka Nightwing, and a few familiar faces.
For long-time fans of DC’s animated features, it still surprises to not hear Kevin Conroy’s dulcet tones as the Dark Knight. This isn’t helped by the fact that Jason O’Mara’s voice just seems so un-Batman; it lacks the maturity, grit and integrity a Batman should convey. And herein lies one of the biggest problems of Son of Batman: the voice casting and the characterisations of certain folk. O’Mara’s Batman simply lacks any sort of gravitas, whilst Gibson’s Deathstroke is taken from being one of the world’s prime killers to being a whining, pathetic shell of an assassin. The al Ghul’s are fine for what they are needed for, whereas young Stuart Allan does well as the pompous, immature Damian, and David McCallum’s Alfred is perfectly played, stealing all of the film’s best lines.
Impressive anime-lite action is brought to life with a score that’s a poor imitation of a Hans Zimmer effort, and some of the film’s bigger sequences, such as the opening attack on the League of Shadows, are ridiculous even by comic book logic. Son of Batman just ends up feeling like a massive case of style over substance, a movie mishandled in so many ways. Given how mediocre Justice League War was, we were hoping for a return to form here. Sadly, that’s not the case.
Extras: Four featurettes / Sneak peak at Batman – Assault on Arkham / Four bonus cartoon episodes