Even Batman can get roofied. It was only a matter of time before DC Animation got around to bringing Damian Wayne, the spoiled love child between Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul and one of the most polarizing Batman sidekicks in history to the Animated universe.
Right from the start you know Director Ethan Spaulding (The Last Airbender Animated Series) is aiming for something radically different and was tasked with pushing the envelope. The opening features one of the most brutal, bloody attacks ever. Ra’s al Ghul’s (Giancarlo Esposito) League of Assassins is completely decimated in the bloodiest way possible by his former protégé Deathstroke (Thomas Gibson). We see bloody eye gouging, arms being chopped off and lots of swordfu.
Damian (Stuart Allan) is a little shit in the comics and I never liked him, but here his attitude just comes across as snarky fun. Just the way everyone reacts to his arrogance, especially Alfred who he treats like a servant and Nightwing (Sean Maher). Damian mocks the Robin costume by saying “The only thing missing is lace trim and a sun hat. I don’t need some insipid costume and a bird name.” At one point Nightwing literally tells Damian to F off. After seeing this, I’d really like to see them do a film set during the period where Damian and Nightwing were partners.
While it sounds like everyone in this film are dicks, unlike the recent Justice League: War, the writers and directors do a great job of balancing everything out. This world isn’t relentlessly dark, grim and filled with douche bags. It took awhile for me to get used to the weirdly, distracting animation, but it was nearly impossible not to get swept up in the story. I think this is one of the best DC Animated films in quite awhile, probably since last year’s amazing Dark Knight Returns. While certainly not on that level, but it was surprisingly solid.
I’ve been complaining a lot recently about the trend of studios moving away from including extras on their home video releases. DC Animation has always been the best in this regard and they continue with a nicely featured release that has several featurettes including; The Fang and the Demon Head: The League of Assassins (10 Min), Strange Blood Ties: Damian Wayne (15 Min), Designing The Characters with Phil Bourassa (10 Min) and a sneak peak at the next DCU film Batman: Assault on Arkham (7 Min.).
I always enjoy the fact that DC Animation always includes a sampling of episodes from the DC Vault. I don’t like Batman: Brave and the Bold so it was disappointing that there were two episodes here. I loved the included Batman Beyond Episode which included a pretty creepy moment with Talia and an hysterical opening that featured old Bruce Wayne celebrating his birthday by attending a Batman musical. The Batman Animated Series episode featured flashback story involving a battle between Jonah Hex and Ras.
My strong dislike of Damian made me a bit skeptical about this release, but it turned out to be surprisingly solid. I will never understand why the DC Animated Universe consistently gets it right, while the film division seems to have no clue. Solid film, coupled with great extras makes this a solid purchase for DCU fans.
- Movie – A-
- Audio/Video – A-
- Extras – B
Final Grade – A-