Batman vs. Robin
Batman vs. Robin is a sequel of sorts to Son of Batman, in that Damian is struggling with what it means to be Batman’s son. Only there’s also the Court of Owls interfering, as Talon offers Robin a chance to be his heir as part of a devious scheme, as described in the movie plot description. Damian is torn between his training by Ra’s al Ghul to be ruthless and his sometimes harsh treatment by his father for his own good.
Frankly, I found the movie tedious, predictable, overly violent, and lacking in subtlety. I don’t care for Jason O’Mara as Batman, since I find his voice performance missing depth, and the design for Damian (Stuart Allan) has too big a head, in my opinion.
But I’m not the audience for these original animated films. I wasn’t a fan of the source material, I’ve seen more Batman stories than I need to already, and I prefer discussion over fighting, while the creators of these movies like their punch-up visuals. Clearly, other people — probably teens, given the movie’s PG-13 rating — do like these generic hour-and-20-minute battles, probably for the thrill of seeing more stories with their favorite heroes. I am only curious about them these days for the extras, because sometimes there’s some interesting information in the talking-head segments.
Another indicator that the movies are aiming for the devoted fan: This movie starts a series of collector limited edition packaging that comes with a figurine (no moving parts). It’s pretty cool looking.
The disc included is the same as the regular Blu-ray edition — both come with an additional DVD version and an UltraViolet copy.
Here’s a clip of Robin and Talon (Jeremy Sisto, doing a terrific job) fighting together, demonstrating the thematic conflict of the film:
And Talon’s recruitment efforts:
Damian also takes on Nightwing (Sean Maher), who’s kind of babysitting him one night:
So, once you get past Robin and Batman yelling at and misunderstanding each other and the various battles while they argue about whether or not you should kill your opponents — oh, and let me not forget to mention the creepiest opening sequence I have ever seen in animation, with Robin fighting the Dollmaker, voiced by Al Yankovic — what else is on the disc?
“Gotham City’s Secret: The Mythic Court of Owls” is a half-hour on where the concept came from, with Scott Snyder explaining his love for Gotham as a character. Greg Capullo, artist on the original story, also participates, which is a pleasant surprise. Personally, I don’t think the Court of Owls is an old enough concept to deserve this long an exploration of their meaning, but idealistically, it’s good to see someone doing something new with the Bat-mythos instead of just introducing new takes on old villains. And the discussion of the symbolism of owls was interesting. By the end of the piece, they’d won me over to appreciating the depth of the original story.
“The Talons of the Owls” is 14 minutes about the enforcers of the court, the Talons “doing the dirty work for the intellectuals”. In addition to the DCU cartoon episodes included with the movie, there’s also a Merrie Melodies “Super-Rabbit”. The commentary for the film is by Mike Carlin, director Jay Olivia, and James Tucker (supervising producer of the animation line).
High point for me was an 11-minute sneak peek at the next movie, Justice League: Gods & Monsters, an alternate-universe take on the superteam they’re comparing to the old comic Elseworlds. Mike Carlin promises “If you know the DC universe, it’s going to be Easter egg time for an hour and a half,” which sounds good to me. Plus, it’s produced by Bruce Timm from his original concept.
And now, we’ll end with a photo gallery. (The studio provided a review copy.)