Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Son of Batman

Directed by Ethan Spaulding.
2014. Rated PG-13, 74 minutes.
Jason O'Mara
Stuart Allan
Morena Baccarin
Giancarlo Esposito
Xander Berkeley
Thomas Gibson
Sean Maher
David McCallum

Slade (Gibson) is really pissed about being kicked out of the League of Assassins. He hates it so much he shows up at Ra's al Ghul's (Esposito) compound with an army consisting of armed helicopters, machine gun toting soldiers, and of course, ninjas and assassinates the man. Unfortunately for Slade, he wasn't quite thorough enough. Al Ghul's daughter Talia (Baccarin) escapes the massacre along with her aptly named son Damian (Allan). Talia decides it's time for the boy to finally meet his father, none other than billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, aka Batman. She drops the boy off in Gotham where father and son work together, sorta, against Slade.

For some, the shock of Batman suddenly having a son will be a bit much. It is for him, too. After you get over that and just roll with the story, it's a fun ride. More than that it gives us some interesting things to ponder beyond the mere existence of the child. Honestly, he is less a child than smaller version of Bruce Wayne. Instead of being a detriment, it adds an important layer to the story. Like our hero, Damian was trained by the League of Assassins. He gives us a vision of what Bruce might have been like had he not been fully mature and developed his own code of ethics when he worked with the League. Understandably, we see the two at odds with each other. Damian's blood lust rubs Batman the wrong way. Batman's more restrained approach to criminal apprehension does the same to Damian. Add in an appearance by Nightwing (Maher), who us Bat-geeks know used to be Robin, to stir the pot and we've got an intriguing battle of wills going between the Caped Crusader and his son.

Having the boy as the focal point affords the movie the chance to skip some of the expected parts of a Batman flick. Fore once, though it is mentioned, there is no scene dedicated to replaying the murder of Batman's parents. Odds are that if you're watching this, and even if you're not, you already know why our hero dresses up like a bat. It's refreshing not having the point hammered home, yet again. There also is no love story subplot. Talia al Ghul, very sexily drawn I might add, does talk dirty to our hero when given the chance, but it's really just a scene to re-establish their connection. It's not an on-going thing running alongside the main plot. I have nothing against Batman getting his romance on, but these relationships all tend to play out the same way.

In lieu of the items missing from the Batman checklist, Son of Batman still delivers the goods. The contentious relationship between our hero and his son is intriguing. There is also the humor of Damian's snobbishness and how Alfred (McCallum) reacts to it. We also get some laughs from Nightwing. He was Robin as a child, in case you're not quite as versed in geek culture as I. Parents take note, there is also plenty of brutal violence. Many characters are shot to death on screen, and one who doesn't die gets stabbed right through the eye. I don't understand how these movies keep getting labeled as 'family' or children's films. It's rather hard to believe given that the body count rivals any live-action flick out there and it is all really well done. And Damian does not screw around with a sword.

So where do I rank this amongst all the Batman movies? Click here to find out.

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