14th Dec2020

‘Batman: Death in the Family’ Blu-ray Review

by Chris Cummings

Features the voices of: Bruce Greenwood, Vincent Martella, John DiMaggio, Zehra Fazal, Kimberly Brooks, Nick Carson, Gary Cole, Nolan North | Written and Directed by Brandon Vietti

Batman: Death in the Family really is something different, in more ways than one. I was pleased to see Warner Bros Animation doing something new and fresh with Batman releases, giving us an interactive movie based on the famous 1988 Batman story-arc, A Death in the Family. You, as the viewer, are in the driver’s seat this time, afforded the opportunity to control the future and paths of the characters on screen.

I’ve dabbled with interactive movies in the past, such as Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, and it’s been a mixed bag but always intriguing and fun to experience in some manner or another. I was excited for this, because after all, this is Batman, this is a world we know and love and are super familiar with, so I was extremely interested to step into the film as the godhead above Gotham.

So, what is Warner Bros. first dive into the sea of interactive features actually like? Well, you can control the narrative, making decisions of where the story goes next through button pushes on your controller. Unlike previous Batman features, Death in the Family is instead more of a collection of shorts pulled to a feature-length film shape. The length of these shorts can be dependent on the decisions you make, which allows a chance to see some new things the next time you press play, which is cool. The points in which you must choose where the story goes next show up at important moments in the stories, and it’s easy to work with, making for a smooth and entertaining jaunt through Batman lore and locations.

I felt, as I was playing/watching Batman: Death in the Family, that I was twelve years old and making my way through a “choose-your-own-adventure” book, and that was certainly appealing to the nostalgia-addict inside me. It doesn’t necessarily follow strictly to the arc on which it’s based, and that might irk some traditionalist fans who wanted a simple film that follows the letter, but I was okay with it. It’s something unique, and I honestly thought the whole thing worked very well, and I enjoyed making these decisions and being, in turn, brought into the tale.

It works for fans and newbies, which is always a good thing, and the animation is a delight. My favourite thing, however, aboutBatman: Death in the Family , is the ability to go and choose a different path and see something new. It has that rewatchability that you want in something like this, and in that way it is a certain success. It’s definitely an ambitious move by Warner Bros. but I do feel like they pulled it off. It’s worth your time and attention, in my view, and I am looking forward to jumping back in and experiencing it again, in a different way perhaps, soon. I mean… who doesn’t want to take control of Batman and Robin and take them left instead of right? I know I do!

Batman: Death in the Family is available on Blu-ray now from Warner Bros.


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