Saturday, January 23, 2016

[IGH] At The Movies: Review of Batman: Bad Blood

Taken at the Batman: Bad Blood World Premiere in NYC

By Reboot

This past Tuesday, I had the pleasure of attending the world premiere of Batman: Bad Blood with some of the other [IGH]ers. They didn’t allow any food or drink in the theater, which is always a bad start when it comes to a movie viewing, but I still had a good time! The movie itself was fun and definitely had moments that shined. I had a few qualms with it as well.

Real quick before we dive in, here’s are the basics. Bad Blood is the third installment in the DC Batman Animated Movie continuity. It’s an original continuity for these movies that’s outside the DC Batman adaptation like Batman: Year One or Batman: The Dark Knight Parts I and II. These movies started with Batman and Son, followed up by Batman vs Robin. Much of the storyline for all three of these movies so far has borrowed from Grant Morrison and Scott Snyder’s Batman tales. In this installment, without getting all spoilery, Batman is in trouble and needs the help of Nightwing, Robin, Batwoman and Batwing to get through his toughest challenge yet.  For more details, check out the trailer.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff. This movie had some top notch voice acting talent in it. Heavy hitters like Steve Blum and John DiMaggio added their talents to this movie. The one downside that persists, which is just me and not the movies’ fault, is that whenever the DC Animated Movies have Batman and he isn’t voiced by Kevin Conroy, it takes me a little bit to adjust. Again, not the movies’ fault at all, but it took a little bit getting used to like it always does. With the expanded cast of Bat family characters, it did reduce the amount of time Batman spoke on screen which may have helped ease me in as well.

The best stuff in this for me had to be the overall story. One of my favorite things about these particular DC Animated Movies are they have their own continuity. Despite the fact that they do take from a mix of different comic book storylines, the team behind these movies ultimately do whatever they wish. Without trying to spoil anything, this results in characters potentially being put in dangerous or even fatal situations that you wouldn’t have expected. When anyone is a fair target and anything can happen, it really does freshen up and revitalize the all too often stale storytelling in the superhero genre.

Oh wait, I’m sorry, the best part of this movie is Alfred. Alfred is incredible and deserves your love and admiration. He also seemed to garner some of the loudest fan reactions from the audience. You’ll understand why when you watch it.

I really enjoyed most of the character designs too. They kept them as close to the comics as possible while still adding some original flair where they could. Seeing them animated on the big screen in some fairly impressive fight scenes was enjoyable. Personally, I feel like the overall quality of the animation could be improved, but I understand the restraints of direct to digital movies versus a movie in theaters or even a higher budget network or HBO style TV special, but there are some moments that come off looking cheaper than other. It’s possible it could be a bias against more digital heavy animation on my part though.

The weakest point of the movie for me wasn’t the movies' fault. I wasn’t exactly the target demographic. These movies definitely seem to be tailored to a primarily young adult audience. If I was 12 years old, these movies would be the kind of thing I would wanna watch over and over. It’s a Batman cartoon, but characters sometimes swear a little, get extra violent, and even killed?! This is the best! As a 30 year old, it doesn’t register quite as high with me. Maybe 30 year old me is just jealous that 12 year old me didn’t get these movies, but I digress.

There are some other moments here and there that weren’t necessarily bad, but just felt like overdone tropes. Like moments with Batwoman where she’s trying too hard to prove herself. They weren’t exactly bad moments and they weren’t even all that often, but they stood out. And they did handle Batwoman’s sexuality fairly well, but there is a scene where her dad mentions that he had hoped she’d bring home a nice girl. Batwoman cringes in a way that made it come across to me that she had not come out to her dad and saying that was his way of letting her know he knows. It came off a bit awkward and unnecessary to me. I talked with a couple of people after the movie about that and the scene didn’t necessarily read that way to them, but that was my takeaway. 

Another scene with Batwoman that just came off a little unnecessary and easter eggy was her at a lesbian bar flirting with Rene Montoya, the only other out lesbian in the Batman universe I can think of off the top of my head. I get that it was a way to introduce Montoya and possibly set her up to date Batwoman, but it would be nice to see Batwoman date and be her own person for a while before being tied down. Granted these movies are on the shorter end and restrict the amount of time that can be spent on the relationship end of things for characters, but the scene felt a little too small world and heavy on the coincidence so it stood out a little.

Overall, Batman: Bad Blood was a solid animated feature. Despite not being the target demographic, I did have a good time watching it. These movies are definitely aiming for a young adult audience; so if you’re in that 12-24 demographic that likes superheroes, you’ll probably love this. And if you’re older and a die-hard Batman fan that wants to see some of the more obscure characters in their full animated glory, go ahead and check it out.

Batman: Bad Blood from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment was released in Digital HD on January 19, 2016.  It  will be available on Blu-Ray™ Deluxe Edition, Blu-Ray™ Combo Pack and DVD on February 2, 2016.

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