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Despite the lack of a 4K option (likely due to limitations surrounding its specific authoring), Death in the Family serves up a satisfying 1080p transfer that showcases its Under the Red Hood-style animation almost perfectly. It’s obviously a dark affair and the Blu-ray holds steady with good shadow detail, almost no black crush, and good color saturation that supports its mixture of vivid and muted hues. On-screen “choice breaks” are razor-sharp with crisp edges and easy-to-read text. No glaring compression artifacts or aliasing were spotted along the way, although a few instances of mild banding can be seen on harsh gradients. Again, Death in the Family is very much on par with similar DCAU Blu-rays but, due to its unique formatting, the transfer’s visual consistency works in its favor more than usual.
Director: Brandon Vietti
Writer: Brandon Vietti
Stars: Bruce Greenwood, Vincent Martella, Zehra Fazal
The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio is no slouch either, delivering a suitably clean and immersive presentation every step of the way. Dialogue is typically anchored right up front with occasional surround activity during crowded conversations or in larger rooms, while the lion’s share of rear channel presence is reserved for ambient touches, action sequences, and of course the rousing original score by Christopher Drake, who has contributed to more than a half-dozen DCAU films including Wonder Woman, Batman: Year One, and The Dark Knight Returns. LFE packs an awful lot of punch on occasion, and there’s also no shortage of channel pans and discrete channel activity; both add plenty of weight to the film’s heavy but dynamic atmosphere. Overall, a fine effort that falls right in line with most DCAU productions.
IGN recently premiered an exclusive article that details an interactive adaptation and continuation of the 1988 comic Batman: A Death in the Family. The storyline is most well-known for killing off Jason Todd, the second Robin, after a fan vote decided his fate. Harkening back to those days, viewers are once again capable of deciding if Jason lives or dies, along with a myriad of other branching paths.
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The animation style draws from its predecessor, the 2010 animated feature, Batman: Under the Red Hood, which recently reached its 10-year anniversary. While one branching path in Death in the Family seems to be a recreation of the film, other branching paths include a reinterpretation of the Hush storyline, with Jason taking the mantle of the bandaged supervillain. Meanwhile, another path seems to follow Red Robin, usually a persona owned by Tim Drake, the third Robin. The interactive movie retains the same cast, including Bruce Greenwood as Batman, Vincent Martella as Jason Todd, and John DiMaggio as Joker. It will also introduce several new roles to the story, including Talia al Ghul (played by Zehra Fazal), Two-Face, and Commissioner Gordon (both voiced by Gary Cole).
Due to being an interactive movie, the runtime of the film is significantly lowered; affording it the DC Showcase label, often reserved for DC’s animated short films. To compensate for this, the release will also include several previously released shorts, involving characters such as Sgt. Rock, Death, Adam Strange and The Phantom Stranger.
Batman is one of the most popular superheroes and with reason. His dark story and variety of weapons that he brings has led to a lot of shows and films that involve him in one way or another, but none have been like this release. We have an interactive release here where the viewer can dictate the outcome, much like the which way books or choose your adventure books. I’m probably showing my age.
The Joker is up to his old tricks and it’s up to the viewer to see if they can rescue the boy wonder from the grasps of the clown villain. With the remote control, the viewer makes decisions, leading to different outcomes and a different viewing experience. I had a lot of fun partaking in this experience and I’d like to see more of it.
On top of this unique experience, there are several shorts that are all quality stories and present the DC characters in a very great way. As a big fan of Batman, this is a must own and I’m happy that I got the chance to check it out.
With the feature and mentioned feature, the set also features SGT. ROCK, ADAM STRANGE, THE PHANTOM STRANGER and DEATH short films. Gotham’s Cape Crusader is in top form with this. I can’t recommend it enough.