Dee Bradley Baker
The animation style is similar to the recent JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR and JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE FLASHPOINT PARADOX, which is to say it's sharp, vibrant, and kinetic. It's what you expect at this point and that's in no way a bad thing. It's an animation formula that works well for the DCU. Storywise, the film embellishes and adds to the plot points of the comic, adding in the much-loved Deathstroke as the main villain and relegating the Man-Bat's to more of a side note. However, the story beats of Damian's relationships with everyone from his father to Alfred to Nightwing to his mother, Talia, are explored well enough to give you an idea of his struggle to adapt to the side of good. Damian must decide on what type of "hero" he wants to be; one that follows a Bat or one that follows an assassin's code.
What struck me initially with SON OF BATMAN was the violence. It's bloody and brutal, although not in an excessive manner. It reminded me a lot of NINJA SCROLL, particularly since there is a heavy emphasis on acrobatic sword battles. There are no over-the-top fountain blood spray scenes, but when someone is sliced there's certainly bloody evidence of it, even when it's Damian on the receiving end, which can be off-putting when you realize that he's a 12-year-old boy. There's an appearance from Killer Croc shoehorned in here as well, which seems to just be there to have an extra villain, which I felt we didn't need as it would have been better to focus more on Damian's character. Some fat could definitely have been trimmed in that respect.
There's a lot more depth to this story in Morrison's comics run, which I highly recommend, but this is a great introduction to the character of Damian Wayne/Robin and his idiosyncratic personality. His relationship with Batman is one of the most interesting The Dark Knight has ever had and the dynamic between the two is a blast to watch. There's more than enough bloody battles and a classic showdown between Damian and Deathstroke in the finale that will leave fans of these films satiated until the next round. While I still think the animated DCU film to beat is THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, this is a fine follow up to the Batman series and leaves the door wide open to continue Damian's tale.
The Fang and The Demon Head: The League of Assassins Featurette: This is a similar featurette as the Damian Wayne one, although it dives into the history of the League of Assassins and the characters of Ra's Al Ghul and Talia Al Ghul and how they fit into Batman's world. A very cool look into their origins and how they've grown to become the perfect match for The World's Greatest Detective.
Designing the Characters with Phil Bourassa Featurette: Animation fans will enjoy this, as artist Phil Bourassa discuses his process of adapting the look of the characters from the comics into animated form, pointing out the changes and additions they made for the transition. Very cool peek at the animation process.
Sneak Peek: Batman: Assault on Arkham: Always one of my favorite aspects of a new DCU movie; the sneak peek at the next one! This doesn't disappoint as there's plenty of new footage and interviews with the creators and cast of the upcoming summer release. It definitely looks like another win for DCU animation.
Bonus Cartoons: Batman: The Brave & The Bold "The Knights of Tomorrow"; Batman: The Animated Series "Showdown!"; Batman Beyond "Out of the Past"; Batman: The Brave and The Bold "Sidekick's Assemble"
Trailers: Beware The Batman, Justice League: War, Teen Titans Go, DC Collectibles, Scooby Doo! Frankencreepy