Batman: Bad Blood (2016) Review

Directed by: Jay Oliva
Written by: J. M. DeMatteis
Starring: Jason O’Mara, Yvonne Strahovski, Stuart Allan, Sean Maher, Morena Baccarin

(Originally written for Youtube Jan. 25 2016)

Batman: Bad Blood is the latest offering from DC’s animated original movies, and continues the storyline seen in Son of Batman and Batman vs. Robin, albeit, not directly; although this film does expect you to be at least somewhat familiar with the characters and their relationships going in.

Bad Blood borrows bits and pieces from a number of stories from the comics, and throws them all together to tell an original story. After Bruce Wayne disappears while on a mission as Batman, his former protégé, Dick Grayson teams up with Bruce’s son and the current Robin, Damian, as well as a new bat-themed vigilante, Bat-Woman to discover Bruce’s whereabouts and unravel the plot of a mysterious new crime-boss, The Heretic, who knows a bit too much about the Bat-family, and a particular interest in Damian.

The movie’s plot is capable, taking the audience from fight scene to fight scene, even if it’s perfectly clear where they needed to add a brand new location just to stretch the film over an hour. Early on the film I thought I was reading into some thematic stuff about each of the main characters having to escape the shadows of their fathers, but that’s never really followed through, so I could have been just reading into things. That wouldn’t actually surprise me much because the script of this movie is easily its weakest link. As I said, it does its job of linking the set-pieces together, but does so using stilted, clichéd dialogue with a frankly obnoxious amount of cursing. Adding to that, some more minor characters are never even named!

While it kills me to say this considering the great animated DC Comics original movies including Mask of the Phantasm, Under the Red Hood, Superman vs. The Elite, and Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths; if you’re watching Bad Blood, you’re probably not doing so for the plot. And, to the film’s credit the fight set-pieces are some of the best animated super-fights I’ve seen in Western Animation lately. The animation is incredibly fluid, and each set-piece deftly juggles at least half-a-dozen characters split between 1-on-1 or 2-on-1 fights; each with thrilling choreography that believably demonstrates the skills of some of DC’s best hand-to-hand combatants.

If a handful of admittedly really great fight scenes are all you’re looking for out of an animated Batman movie, then you can do a lot worse than Bad Blood, but if you’re interested in a Batman story with a compelling plot and engaging character arcs I recommend checking out some of the older stuff, or picking up some trade-paperbacks.