Batman: Bad Blood—directed by Jay Oliva; written by J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Grant Morrison (comic book); starring Stuart Allan (Damian Wayne / Robin), Sean Maher (Dick Grayson / Nightwing), Morena Baccarin (Talia al Ghul), Steve Blum (Electrocutioner), Gaius Charles (Luke Fox / Batwing), James Garrett (Alfred Pennyworth), Travis Willingham (Heretic), Yvonne Strahovski (Kathy Kane / Batwoman) and Jason O'Mara (Bruce Wayne / Batman).
The first thing to do with these films is to establish what continuity they take place in. Some movies like Justice League: Gods and Monsters or Batman: Assault on Arkham are separate from one another and try to have as wide of a variety as possible. They're rather odd and they are very much hit or miss. Then there are the Batman Unlimited ones targeted towards kids and based off the Mattel action figure line. One look at those and you'll see an onslaught of characters thrown into random fight sequences for the sake of selling toys.
Thankfully, Batman: Bad Blood takes place in the same universe as the more serious films that are connected to one another, having started with Justice League: War and also including Son of Batman, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, and Batman vs. Robin. This means the more modern story arcs are being told and the target audience is more teenagers and above than little kids, as evidenced by things like exploding heads and lesbian affairs. Yup, those two things are in this movie, although I won't spoil who does what.
What I will spoil, though, is that this story takes inspiration from Batman Incorporated, the Leviathan organization and other arcs following those connective threads. After the disappearance of Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson adopts the Batman persona and teams up with Damian Wayne to find out who is behind Bruce's supposed death and how to stop whatever their plan happens to be. Meanwhile, we're introduced to Batwing (Luke Fox, who must deal with the responsibility of following in the footsteps of his father, Lucius Fox) and Batwoman (Katherine Kane, who struggles to find a purpose to herself and a means to deal with the pain of loss)—two stories that feel a bit shoehorned in and don't have much time to breathe. I much rather would have preferred to see Batwoman and Batwing sit this one out to allow more time to be focused on Nightwing, as every story in this whole movie gets rushed. There just isn't enough enough time in just over an hour to set up all of the emotional stakes properly and flesh out a better story.
Then again, we're not watching these movies for Best Picture Oscar material, right? We watch them because they're easier-to-digest methods of reading comic books, and if you're a fan of the Batman series, you're bound to smile at all sorts of things in this movie. One of my favorite parts was seeing the inclusion of the C-list villains Firefly and Killer Moth, who happened to have pretty cool designs. Alfred gets a nice moment to show off how he's a bad ass, as Grayson puts it, which is a nice little scene that I appreciated as well. The characterization of nearly everybody is spot on, and these movies are giving me an even better appreciation for the Damian Wayne character. Plus, I've always thought Nightwing was massively underutilized, so more movies with him doing his thing gets a big thumbs up for me. I am curious, though, where Tim Drake and Jason Todd are in this universe, but their lack of inclusion here doesn't hurt the film.
The action is fun, the music isn't memorable but it does its job soundly (see what I did there?) and the overall tone of the film is what I was hoping it would be. Things in the Batman universe are always on the more sullen side, but there are jokes peppered throughout that break up the tension just enough to keep it from being too dour. The visuals are also something to commend, taking what I feel are the best character models from any animated superhero adaptation and not messing with the formula, only improving it. There are no weird body proportions with giant torsos or anything in this film as every character is muscular within reason.
Out of the films that have come out for this line, I definitely wouldn't rank this as my favorite, but I don't really have any fervent complaints about it, either. This is a perfectly adequate story for comic book fans to watch for an hour on a night when they're bored or something of the sort. If you're not a big fan of the Batman franchise, it likely won't strike much of a chord with you, so keep that in mind. If you are, however, I would definitely recommend it.