BATMAN: DEATH IN THE FAMILY Review; "[The Movie] Delivers Plenty Of Bang For Your Buck"
Batman: Death in the Family gives viewers the chance to take control of the action, but does that unique interactive experience work for this adaptation of a number of classic comic book storylines?
Batman: Death in the Family is the first interactive movie set in the DC Animated Universe, and it's an appropriate choice considering the fact comic book fans once voted to kill off Jason Todd! This exciting, unorthadox adventure offers more options than that, however, as there are a lot of different paths both Robin, the Dark Knight, and a wide array of characters can be taken down which often lead this story down some fun, unexpected paths you won't see coming. There are multiple endings, and a clever mechanic that means, when you reach the credits, you can easily go back and select another option (there's a huge amount of fun to be had here).
Some of these options work better than others, of course, and there are a couple that feel somewhat phoned in. Selecting one option means the movie ends after just a few minutes, while another sees you sitting through a twenty-minute monologue which recycles footage from Batman: Under the Red Hood. Outside of those, however, Death in the Family proves to be a blast, and you'll have a tonne of fun trying to find all the different story options, not to mention those endings. Some of them are better than others, but there are a number of inventive, crazy ideas here which won't be familiar to even the most hardcore comic books fans. With an hour's worth of short films included - Sgt. Rock, Adam Strange, Death, and The Phantom Stranger - this feels like a good value set, but your mileage may vary if you've seen those and fully explored the main feature.
Writer and director Brandon Vietti does a great job of exploring Jason Todd in greater depth than we've previously seen, while he's assembled a solid voice cast. Nolan North as Clark Kent proves to be a pleasant surprise, while Bruce Greenwood makes for one of the DC Animated Universe's better versions of Batman. After playing a young Jason in Under the Red Hood, Vincent Martella is given the chance to play all versions of the character here, and does an excellent job (even if some fans will miss Jensen Ackles' Red Hood). Unfortunately, John DiMaggio's Joker is no competition for Mark Hamill's Clown Prince of Crime, and is perhaps the movie's weak point. Given the Clown Prince of Crime's importance to the story, that's a shame.
With quite a bit of footage reused from Under the Red Hood, Death in the Family boasts the "classic" DCAU animation style, and not the overhauled take on this world we got in Superman: Man of Tomorrow. That's not really a bad thing, though, and there's enough new footage that this shouldn't bother you too much. As a package, it's hard to complain with what this movie offers, and it would be no bad thing for Warner Bros. Animation to revisit this concept for future releases.
There's plenty of fun to be had with this interactive movie, and while reused footage and familiar shorts make it feel like there's been some corner cutting, Batman: Death in the Family delivers plenty of bang for your buck.
Batman: Death in the Family arrives on Digital on October 13th and Blu-ray on October 26th.