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Over the last couple of years, Warner Brothers have been making a quick buck by adapting DC’s comic book storylines into direct-to-video animated movies. The quality of these films have varied greatly, from the superb adaptation of Frank Miller‘s The Dark Knight Returns (2012) to the flimsy take on Batman vs. Robin (2015).
This year’s animated offering is Batman: Bad Blood, a continuation of the story that began in 2014’s Son of Batman. The film balances the weight it carries from previous entries in this story well, and it manages to reiterate necessary information for new viewers without making it feel repetitive for people already familiar with the story.
In the story, Batman has gone missing, and he’s presumed dead. In his absence, Robin and Nightwing are patrolling the streets of Gotham when they come across a new masked crusader, the mysterious Batwoman. She feels an obligation to help locate Batman, as he saved her life the night he disappeared. A new foe begins terrorizing our faithful heroes, and they must band together to save the day. The story progresses fairly predictably from there, and it hits the main beats you’d expect it to hit along the way.
The writing is good in certain places, but it struggles to make the story captivating through the first half of the film. It simply becomes too by-the-numbers in its presentation, and there’s little creativity being displayed in adapting the original source material. Once the film reaches the crux of the story about 2/3 of the way through, the movie picks up the pace, and becomes a lot of fun to watch. The initial struggles the film experienced in presenting a creative story vanishes, and the final third is highly captivating and quite entertaining. The animation in these final scenes is quite good, though overall the animation is nothing special.
The voice cast sees Jason O’Mara (Batman), Stuart Allen (Robin), and Sean Maher (Nightwing) returning to their respective roles from Batman vs. Robin, with Morena Baccarin (Talia al Ghul) making a return from Son of Batman. New entries Gaius Charles (Batwing) and Yvonne Strahovski (Batwoman) flesh out the cast, and all the actors do a good job at embodying their respective characters. The voice acting does a lot to contribute to the film feeling quite fleshed out.
Overall, Batman: Bad Blood does a good job at continuing the story that was set forth in previous films, however the story that’s portrayed on screen fails to catch the viewers’ imagination, and it becomes quite predictable early on where the story will end up. The animation is good, but nothing special. It merely continues the same aesthetics of earlier entries into DC’s animated adaptations. The actors are well cast into their respective characters, and you get some clever banter along the way. In the end, it is quite apparent that these films are mainly made for fans of the comics, so you’re unlikely to get a lot of enjoyment out of this film if you’re not a fan of the comics or the characters in the story.
Batman: Bad Blood earns a decent 6.5 out of 10.