First off, I have to say that I was really surprised at how good this film was. DC’s animation films have been sorely dropping in quality ever since the New 52 began. I’m not counting the side films, just mainstream. Lets quickly take a trip down memory lane for them. Here are the DC animated films that I’m counting. Superman: Doomsday, Justice League New Frontier, Batman Gotham Knight, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern First Flight, Public Enemies, Crisis on Two Earths, Under The Red Hood, Apocalypse, All Star Superman, Emerald Knight, Year One, Doom, Superman and the Elite, Dark Knight Returns, Unbound, Flashpoint, War, Son of Batman, Assault on Arkham, Throne of Atlantis, Batman vs Robin, Gods and Monsters, Bad Blood. I’m not even going to count the Killing Joke and Justice League Dark. The former because I haven’t seen it and don’t plan to since the film looks so trashy and the latter since it’ll be a long time til a TV-14 version of it is up. Naturally, the film wouldn’t help DC’s case anyway since it’s as gritty as it gets.
So, Superman: Doomsday was a great film. It was a good way to kick things off. New Frontier could have been better, but it was a solid Justice League film. Gotham Knight was DC’s first miss, but they made up for it with the next two installments as Wonder Woman and Green Lantern were both very good. Public Enemies and Crisis on Two Earths were amazing and two of the best DC films of all time. Under The Red Hood and Apocalypse continued things off on a high level. All Star Superman was reasonably solid as well. It lacked in action, but had good writing. Emerald Knight was rather disappointing and Year One was pretty sad. You could argue that DC was starting to weaken at this point. Justice League Doom was good. It was a cut under the previous all stars, but it still felt right.
Next was Superman and the Elite. It’s easily one of the weaker Superman films and the animation was bad. Dark Knight Returns was truly dreadful though and it brought back the more violent roots that I was hoping to avoid. The next title (Superman Unbound) avoided this thanks to its My Little Pony styled animation. However, this was the end. We would now enter the violent era of DC films and this is where things got ugly. Flashpoint is super dark, gritty, and violent. It was a bad film that just left you shaking your head. Next was JL: War. Justice League War is a good story, but it was plagued by excessive violence all around. It’s no surprise though since this is where the New 52 started. Technically it’s not a bad film, it’s still good, but should have been far better. The next films would not have the Justice League to bail them out. Son of Batman is a gritty story where the writing just slacks off and the violence continues. Assault on Arkham is one of the worst DC films and with many villains as the main characters, you can see how it would be bad.
We went back to the Justice League next, but questionable writing and more excessive violence held it back quite a lot. Batman vs Robin kept the violence as high as it could and even threw in animal violence. Gods and Monsters is so disgraceful that I knew it would be bad 10 minutes in. It was just so disgraceful. But, there’s a silver lining now. Batman: Bad Blood has toned the violence down quite a lot and based on the trailers and clips for the next two films, it looks like things could finally be changing. Are we going back to DC’s prime in animation? It’s a possibility and one that I’m excited for. It’s fitting since the New 52 was cancelled that things would finally get back on track.
Now, lets start the actual review for this film. Batwoman is a new crime fighter in town who believes in destroying all of her opponents. She’s a villain who takes out other villains for the greater good and believes herself to be above the law. As expected, she gets in over her head and a group of villains decide to take her down. It would seem that she was just the bait to lure Batman in as he is forced to save her from Heretic and his goons which results in his capture. Batwoman must now team up with Nightwing and Damian to find and rescue the Dark Knight. Can they succeed and who is the true mastermind behind the scenes?
This film starts off with a lot of action and it never lets up. The first 10-15 minutes are effectively one long action scene. Batman and Batwoman are up against a bunch of C listers, but these guys still have decent abilities and the fight makes for a bunch of cool visuals. Also, Batman is still just a human so he can’t afford to let his guard down against anyone. While the villains may not seem all that intimidating, one good attack could always mean the end. The film did a great job of showing how Batman fights in contrast to the others though. He has no wasted movements and is easily able to handle multiple opponents by fighting very strategically. His fighting style here was focused on being defensive and launching powerful hits. I dare say that this film did a better job of illustrating that than any of the other DC films. Watch this title and see how the animators do a good job of distinguishing everyone’s fighting styles. It’s pretty impressive.
The animation is also very sharp. Some of the hand to hand scenes can maybe get a little stretchy like Talia vs Batwoman, but the style works well enough. The various colors help the contrast which is why the night scenes in particular have the best fights. The film is able to pull this off even in the day time by having the characters fight in doors. Damian vs the bulldozer guy was a good example of this. The strong sound effects and fluid animation helped this film produce some of the best fight scenes. I have Batman Beyond Return of the Joker as my favorite Batman film, but this one is really high up there as well. The main competition it would have is Under The Red Hood and Mask of the Phantasm. So, Top 3 is a real possibility, but I’ll refrain from actually placing it there for now since it could just be a knee jerk reaction of this film completely surpassing my expectations. I can’t say that I was particularly hyped for this film before watching it, but it certainly delivered.
An extra cherry on top for this film is the fact that it actually had a good soundtrack as well. Most films miss out on this nowadays, but Bad Blood has quite a few great action tunes and that helps to keep the intensity up from the start. The film may only be around 70 minutes long, but since the action never stops, it probably has more fights than most 100+ minute films.
The character cast is pretty solid as well. Batman isn’t in his right mind for most of the film, but he’s on point when he is. He’s very no nonsense the whole time and just shows up to take the villains down. He doesn’t bother with pleasantries or any of that. However, Damian was the standout here. This is how I’ve always pictured the character to act. Damian’s strong and extremely confident. The bragging works as long as he can back it up and he does a good job of it here. I don’t even mind his loss to Heretic since he was drugged first and still put up a good fight. He was trained by the League of Assassins so I expect him to be really skilled. He was a little underpowered in the first fight, but he managed to come back from that. The film couldn’t get the power levels absolutely perfect right? I’m not sure about Batwoman defeating Talia, that was a bit of a stretch. Still, I suppose she needed as least one win since that would have been sad for her fans otherwise.
I’m not really a Batwoman fan. She’s on the opposite side of the spectrum with the bragging. She talks a really good game, but ends up getting wrecked in almost all of her fights. She doesn’t last 5 seconds against Heretic and she was getting overwhelmed by the C list fighters. It wasn’t a good showing for her at all. I thinks she has the potential to be more likable than Batgirl, but she also feels like a Huntress ripoff at the same time. I guess I’ll need to wait and see what future films do with her. Nightwing’s not bad. It’s nice to see him getting more of a role in the films lately. It would be great if he had a little more confidence/arrogance like Damian though. Lately it seems like he’s completely mellowed out. That’s not bad, but it won’t help his personality.
Alfred looked really good here and his fight was one of the cool parts in the film. Bad Blood even managed to squeeze in Batwing. I haven’t read a comic with him yet, but he seems cool. He’s a not very subtle ripoff of War Machine, but as always DC managed to improve on the character. I already like him more than Rhodey. They both have a military background which explains why they can use the suits so easily, but Batwing seems far less likely to betray everyone to the government. His transformation scene was also pretty fun and definitely seemed like something out of Iron-Man. I’m definitely glad that he took the suit right away as well since a real character doesn’t wait for permission.
This aspect hurt Onyx quite a bit though. As a loyal bodyguard, I was expecting her to try and help Heretic out of at least avenge him. Part of being a good lackey is knowing when not to follow an order and that vengeance must come first. She waits way too long to do anything and that did destroy her whole character. There was nothing that she could do to exonerate herself, the time for action had passed. It was also unexpected since the film was playing it off like she was about to do something, but then decided not too. I do have to say that one other missed opportunity here was killing off Heretic before he could get a real fight. He was definitely a tough fighter so seeing him get a full fight against Nightwing or Damian would have been fun. He had a brief bout with Nightwing and to the hero’s credit, he was holding his own. The 2 on 1 fight just proved to be too much in the end.
Bad Blood is also good with the misdirects. I actually thought that Batwoman’s dad had turned evil since it would be the kind of twist that DC would turn to in the past. I’m glad that it wasn’t the case though because that would have been just plain unnecessary. He seems like a pretty good character so I’d definitely be on board with having him around in the future. That being said, sticking to the Bat cast is the best move. One of the reasons why this film was so good was because over 90% of the film stayed with the plot. Batwoman had a small subplot that was boring and acted as pointless filler, but it was probably less than 10 minutes if you combine all of the scenes. Keep the subplots as small as possible and your film will probably be a winner.
Overall, Batman Bad Blood was pretty solid. The nonstop action was good and it was just full of quality. For those of you who still want blood and intensity, there is a bit when characters are punched or stabbed, but it isn’t completely over the top and overdone like the last few films. It’s handled with a lot more dignity and composure this time around. If there’s anything that you may have a problem with, it’s that everyone seems to be breaking into the batcave these days. It did make for a decent jump scene though since I really wasn’t expecting Heretic to show up at that moment. The film was really good with having unexpected things occur. I highly recommend checking this film out. You will not be disappointed!