BATMAN: DEATH IN THE FAMILY Blu-ray Review

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EDITOR’S NOTE: BOF received a free copy of BATMAN: DEATH IN THE FAMILY Blu-ray for reviewing purposes.

Let me start with a disclaimer: Choosing your own adventure isn’t really my thing as an adult. I got swept up in them as a kid but was always cheating. So when it was announced that the next DC animated movie was going to be an interactive one, I wasn’t too excited.  And I’m still not, BUT that’s not exactly bad news.

This review is for the Blu-Ray of BATMAN: DEATH IN THE FAMILY, which is the only version that has the interactive aspect. More on the digital version in a bit.

B:DITF attempts to give us bits of what we saw a decade ago in BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD, new bits to fill in the gaps, and some brand new story elements. Since a (great) animated movie told this story 10 years ago, what could creators possibly do to make us shell out $20 again?

Choices!

The selling point for this movie was the fact that, just like in 1988, you have input on whether Jason Todd lives or dies. And unlike 1988, only your choice matters. What’s added is a slew of further decisions that can take your chosen path to many unexpected places. I’ll admit, there were more choices than I thought, and more surprises I wasn’t prepared for. I won’t share them with you here, but here are some hints:

  • Future Robins.
  • There’s a pull from Grant Morrison’s run.
  • More rogues.
  • A nod to THE KILLING JOKE and THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS in the same scene.

My personal feeling on this presentation is that it’s not my thing. When I watch a movie, I like hitting play and kicking back. I want the story presented to me. Here, every few minutes, you had to grab the remote, select an option, then watch it play out. Rinse, repeat.

Now, that doesn’t mean this isn’t worth it. The opening of the movie is a bit of a rehash of what we’ve seen before, but it’s after that scene where we get into the new chapters and surprises. I liked where the story went in certain places and don’t know how the creators could have picked just one. Everyone should be able to find an ending they like, and like me won’t remember how to get back to it.

The digital version is something else. I imagine a lot of people will be frustratingly disappointed. Whether it was in the description and I just missed it or not, I found it unclear what the digital version was going to be. It bypassed the interactivity and is a 25-minute narration of UNDER THE RED HOOD. That’s it. Then it proceeds to play out 3 DC animated shorts. Oof. Their major selling point for this was the interactive part and digital shouldn’t even be an option because it’s a waste.

Overall, despite not being my thing, this was a fun surprise. I like the different twists the story could go, and some of the familiar faces making cameos. I don’t see myself revisiting it too often in the future, but may bust it out again when I’m in a decisive mood.

Watch out, Jason Todd. – Ryan Lower

GRADE: B

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Representing the Midwest, Ryan has been a BOF fan since 2003, and started contributing to the site in 2017. He is the host of “The Batman Book Club” podcast. Ryan has written reviews for comics, animated movies and TV series. He has also appeared on BOF podcasts and Social Hours for Batman discussions, reviews, and interviews. Thanks to BOF, he was able to meet and have a one-on-one discussion with his favorite artist, Lee Bermejo. Follow him on Twitter @lower_ryan.