Stars: Jason O’Mara, Yvonne Strahovski, Stuart Allan, Sean Maher, Morena Baccarin, Steve Blum, Gaius Charles, John DiMaggio, Robin Atkin Downes, James Garrett, Ernie Hudson, Christine Lakin, Vanessa Marshall | Written by J.M. DeMatteis | Directed by Jay Oliva
After Batman goes missing, Dick Grayson takes up his mantle as He and Damian Wayne have to protect Gotham City, while also trying to find the original Batman. Two new allies, Batwoman and Batwing arrive to help investigate Batman’s disappearance.
So here we are with another ‘Original’ movie from DC, who were once a Juggernaut when it came to releasing a constant stream of excellent animated movies that eclipsed the majority of DC’s live-action catalogue. But it does appear (apart from a few films like JL: Gods and Monsters and Batman: Assault on Arkham) that things are not going to change any time soon (especially with how Justice League vs. Teen Titans looks from it’s trailer, but a little more on that later).
I mean everything about this film, from the voice acting to the animation is just…okay. It is serviceable, it gets the job done. And after watching all of these adaptations of DC’s ’New-52’ stories, I just get the feeling that DC are doing the bare minimum (going through the motions), while saving the real effort for films such as the ones I mentioned above (and hopefully future films like The Killing Joke as well). But I remember a time when they used put in 100% for each and every release, and it really annoys me to see the quality of their films drop to the same standard as most of Marvel’s animated efforts.
But anyway, let’s talk about the film. Now this is a continuation of the plot-lines from both Son of Batman and Batman vs. Robin, which is something I like (I love continuity and having previous actions and events have consequences on all that follows, therefore allowing the characters to learn from mistakes/or be haunted by them and overall grow as characters, which is great for drama/the story). But unfortunately character growth is something that appears to be an alien concept for the ones that inhabit this ‘New-52 animated Universe’, since every character that appears in this film is exactly the same by the time the end-credits roll from how they were at the Movie’s start. I am not kidding, nobody learns anything or shows any kind of growth during this film and I can put that up to two reasons.
- The large cast of characters (there are just too many. Batman, Robin, Nightwing, Batwoman, Batwing, Heretic, Talia, Mad-Hatter, Fire-Fly, Killer-Moth, Tusk, Onyx, Alfred…just to name a few).
- The run-time of 72 minutes (which is barely enough time to finish the story, let alone give any of the characters their moments in the spotlight).
Now don’t get me wrong, there are some good themes and ideas in Batman: Bad Blood (like Batwoman’s back-story or Nightwing living in Batman’s shadow to name just a few). But after originally delving into these with either flash-backs or one of the few exposition scenes, they end up going absolutely nowhere as they are simply dropped in favour of by ‘the numbers’ action sequences (which I guess is because we needed keep the pace as fast as possible….only 72 minutes to fill it all in, after all).
Now as I said, the characters barely get any time for us to get emotionally invested with them (which is harder if they are just two dimensional versions of the characters they are based on), but it is even worse when one of the characters was built up to be the main villain. And by that I mean…the Heretic, who (like everyone else) we barely get any time with or explanation behind his motivations (which looked interesting from the tiny bits of information we were given) before he is suddenly killed off by Talia Al-Ghul.
And I have to ask, is Talia bipolar? I mean (as I said previously) this is a continuation of the story from Son of Batman, but Talia here could not be any further apart from the woman she was in that previous film (with her willing to do and sacrifice anything for either Bruce or Damian). As here she is simply a cold-hearted and calculating manic driven by the need for World domination, which makes for a very boring ‘been there, done that’ experience.
And Iron-Bat…sorry, I mean Batwing feels like a discount version of Iron Man (and here I thought the Atom in Arrow’s third season was that, but here we get an almost shot for shot copy of the suit assembly scene from the first Iron Man film, complete with a similar-sounding soundtrack) and just like the other new characters, gets little to no time to really delve into who he is.
It’s rumoured that Batman: Bad Blood is being used to show off new characters like Batwoman and Batwing, giving them the spotlight over the rest (aka Batman, Nightwing, Robin etc), but they were not given enough time for us to get to know them. So in the end you just end up not caring, which is a real shame.
And what is with all the villain deaths in this film, I mean anyone who doesn’t sport a Bat-emblem (or closest thing to it) ends up getting killed off. Now I mentioned Heretic getting taken out by Talia, but so does everyone else. And the Bat-Family doesn’t even blink at that either, except for Damian (who ironically, is the only character out of them who usually doesn’t mind killing if need be) as he tries to save Tusk, only to fail (at least he tried, which is more than I can say for the rest, like Fire-Fly). I know that the majority of the enemies are not actually killed by the heroes, but the latter are indirectly involved and could have done something to save them (yes, I know Batman has killed before, but the modern-day Batman and his Allies do their best to ensure that no one dies).
Now as I said at the start of this review, the voice-acting again is fine, but no one really stands out from them. The story itself isn’t just a loose adaptation of an existing comic this time (like Batman vs. Robin or Throne of Atlantis), but is instead made up of aspects of most of the ‘Batman and Robin’ and ‘Batman Incorporated’ series by Grant Morrison, which makes a nice change (I have to go on record and say that I have not read any of those stories, so I went into this film with a fresh pair of eyes). The Humor in this film was not very good though, with all the jokes falling flat (the Nunjas…). The animation though is okay, but still doesn’t hold a candle to what we are used to getting from any of the DC animated films pre-New-52 (not including Gods and Monsters), but all the characters designs are pretty much spot on.
Overall Batman: Bad Blood is a ‘by the numbers’ animated movie. One that is dull and predictable and has little time to do much with it’s overly large cast of characters. I mean it is not as bad as Batman vs. Robin, but that isn’t really saying much. And I have to say, after seeing the trailer for Justice League vs. Teen Titans I am getting the feeling of Déjà vu, because this film had Batman being brainwashed by Talia and turning him on his friends, and the next film has Trigon brainwashing the League and turning them on the Titans. Can‘t say I am looking forward to that film (unlike The Killing Joke), but I do hope that DC manages to get their groove back and give us films of the quality that they used to bring us year in and year out, back in the day.
Batman: Bad Blood is released on VOD on March 18th and DVD/Blu-ray on March 21st.