FUN-FILLED, ACTION-PACKED FAMILY AFFAIR
DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming – “Batman: Bad Blood”
Review by Ray Schillaci
The Movie Guys
Something about seeing a movie with fans makes the experience all the more enjoyable. Whether it be “Star Trek”, “Star Wars”, Marvel or DC, that fan base heightens the energy and makes the average viewer appreciate what long time fans have enjoyed for years. Of course, that only works if the storytellers quench our demanding pallets, and DCUAOM (DC Universe Animated Original Movies) does not disappoint. In fact, with their latest installment filled with humor, action, and a bevy of heroes and villains, “Batman: Bad Blood” carries the torch for the new series (“Son of Batman”, “Batman vs. Robin”) and has it burn brighter than ever before.
To celebrate this highly anticipated DC project, the Paley Center for Media held bi-coastal premieres in New York on January 19th and in Los Angeles on February 2nd. While fans braved the cold anxiously waiting (for over an hour) for the screening (this reporter was fortunate enough to attend the L.A. location), entertainment journalists kept warm in the confines of the Paley Center, patiently waiting for talent to arrive. Posters and media screens were emblazoned with the kind of bold and dark artwork of “Batman: Bad Blood” that I hoped was actually a sample of the animation. This is not a negative towards the new DC film, for the latest installment of Batman has so much more to offer, but I couldn’t help think of how cool it would be if the artwork for the cover of these movies actually came to life, bringing their own unique vision to the fans as Pixar, Disney or DreamWorks has done.
What DC does has going for it is great choreographed action sequences, wonderfully amusing one-liners, and a group of highly talented voice actors. Not to mention a director, Jay Olivia, and producer, James Tucker, that have incredible love for their story. The story line has some fans suggesting the series is like “Game of Thrones” with capes and cowls.
Batman disappears after a skirmish with some nasty villains while saving Batwoman’s life. Nightwing dons the caped crusader’s suit, and with the help of Robin, Batwoman, Batwing, and Alfred, they seek out the missing hero. I must add, it’s nice to see Alfred doing more than greeting people at the door or expounding sound logic. The old man actually kicks some ass! With Batman’s absence, we get a great deal of a welcome backstory on Batwoman. And, while many credit that Batwoman gets the best lines, I would be quick to argue that I enjoyed Nightwing just as much, and the few quips Robin has to offer.
We also bear witness to Bruce Wayne’s torment by his captors. There is some risqué stuff here, and once again, another back alley scene with his parents being shot (but we’ve now been promised by the filmmakers that it will be the last one!). But it may be the only moment that appears repetitive while there are so many surprises in store in this action-packed feature.
Returning voice actors Jason O’Mara (Batman/Bruce Wayne), Sean Maher (Nightwing/Dick Grayson), and Stuart Allan (Robin/Damian Wayne) bring their particularly memorable performances to the characters, providing depth and humor while exciting new characters light up the screen in the form of Batwoman/Katherine Kane (Yvonne Strahovski – “Chuck”, “Mass Effect”), Batwing/Luke Fox (Gaius Charles – “Friday Night Lights”, “The Stanford Prison Experiment”), and The Heretic (Travis Willingham – “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”, 2013’s “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble”, and “Shelf Life”). Their personas on screen work so well together, it’s hard to believe that most did not even see each other until after the film was put together.
This go-around it nearly feels like everything but the kitchen sink is thrown in, not to say that it’s cluttered, as some complained about Marvel’s “Age of Ultron”. We really get a clear and defined sense of most of these characters and relish the snappy dialogue that they play off each other. Also, there’s a good reason why the film is rated PG-13 and it actually makes it more entertaining. Just the brief interplay with Batman, Batwoman, and the criminal element – Mad Hatter, Electrocutioner, Tusk, among others – is an absolute blast. It’s not only catering to the adults, but also brings out the giddy kid in us as well throughout its 75 minutes.
Directed by: Jay Olivia
Release Date: January 19, 2016
Run Time: 72 Minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers Animation