Review: Deathstroke: Knights and Dragons: The Movie

No, it's not an medieval Elseworlds movie. 

Did I say that there would only be 2 posts this week? Well, I lied! Sort off. I was indeed planning on only putting out the weekly Let’s Talk About on Wednesday and the 3rd post in the month of Lucifer but I saw Deathstroke: Knights and Dragons: The movie last week and the more time past, the more I wanted to write something about it. I might have dialled down the number of posts I do per week, but I come across something I want to talk about even if I wasn’t planning on doing so (and deserves it), I will do just that. Talk about it. In this case, I’m going to give the movie a proper, if not a little brief, review. 

Let’s not make this introduction needlessly long and let’s dive right in!

 

Slade Wilson is a retired soldier married to his former superior Adeline Kane and has a young son named Joseph. While he claims to be a simple businessman, in actuality, Slade is Deathstroke: one of, arguably the, best mercenary in the world but one who keeps himself to a strict moral code. After a job in which he was payed to assassinate a general planning to overthrow his country ruler but instead killed said ruler as he was a ruthless dictator Slade returns home only to find it ransacked. The Jackal, working for the terrorist organization Hive, has beaten up Adeline and kidnaped Joseph.

After tracking the Jackal down, taken down two of his goons and refusing his offer to join up with Hive he manages to save his son but is unable to prevent Joseph’s vocal cords from getting cut. Ten years later, Slade and his family have become estranged and his work as Deathstroke has consumed his life. After Joseph is kidnapped once more, Deathstroke once again jumps into action to save his son. The situation isn’t what it seems however and in order to find his son and save his family, Slade has to confront the skeletons in his closet.

Deathstroke: Knights and Dragons has got quite the little history behind it. Originally announced as an animated 12 episode limited-series for the CW’s online service the CW Seed. The first episode (running a whopping 40 minutes) was released in January of this year. The runtime was something that fans, I included, were surprised by.

Previous DC Comics animated series on the service like Vixen were only 5 to 6 minutes per episode, so the length of the episode was puzzling to many. Was this first episode just double the length and would the rest be 20 minutes long like most animated shows? Or was this the entire 12 minute thing and did they just decide to drop it all at once? These were questions that stayed with me for much longer than I had hoped as it went completely quite regarding the series for months with no new episodes and no words on when (and if) the rest would come. It wasn’t until mid-June that it was announced that the series got turned into a movie instead, to be released in August.

While I find the decision a bit odd and I don’t like how long we had to wait for it, after watching the movie, I think it was the right decision. You don’t notice the that the movie was originally produced as a tv series. The CW bundled the entire Vixen series as a stand-alone movie before but with that, due the pacing was meant of a TV show, you it’s not a seeming less transition. You notice that the movie kept cycling through the basic 3 act structure (beginning-middle-end) constantly and it breaks up the flow of the movie.

That’s problem is present here though. The transition between, what I assume were the different episode, are flawless. That first episode released in January is basically the entire first 40 minutes of the roughly 90 minutes flick with only a handful of new scenes thrown in there. To be a little nit-picky, I don’t feel that those new scenes in that first half were really all that necessary. There’s made one sequence longer then the original which I do think was a smart move as it provides more setup for what happens later in the movie, but the rest of the scenes if are pretty pointless. You get a quick sequence here, a quick sequence there some more action etc. It’s not that those scenes are bad or anything, like the rest of the movie it’s all done very well, I just feel those scenes are a bit pointless.

Didn't find a good spot to talk about it but the movie is R rated and for a good reason.

It’s only a minor annoyance I have with the movie, because the rest of it is quite good! From the animation, to the pacing, the voice-acting it’s all very good; the action is especially a treat to watch. The characterization and the story itself is definitely the best part. For those who are familiar with Deathstroke and his personal history you won’t find any real surprises here as it’s largely the same, but they are still some genuine, well crafted I might add, suprises here. No the strength lies in the execution of it all.

At its core, the movie is not about just Deathstroke mowing down enemies or anything but about a dysfunctional family trying to work through their problems. His family, his kids, have as much screen-time as Slade himself and are just as important to the story. It helps that the entire family is well written and the movie manages to invest you in their stories even if you can’t get behind their actions. The movie also manages to avoid a problem many adaptations based on villains have: make them either to villainous and does unlikable or what they tend to do more, make them to heroic. Deathstroke has enough redeeming qualities, his moral code and love for his family for example, that you can sympathise with him while still clearly being a bad guy. 

Conclusion

Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons: The movie is a good time. It has good animation, excellent fight sequences, well written and acted and above all else an interesting story about family at its core. It's development might have been a bit weird with it jumping from a mini-series to a movie but it was well worth it. I have some nit-picks, sure, but those are again just nit-picks. The movie is out now digitally and will be able to bought on Blu-ray later this month on August 18th and I think it's well worth the price.

Comments