Batman vs. Robin Blu-ray Review
For people like me who grew up watching BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES and THE JUSTICE LEAGUE series, it’s good to see the DCU animated brand spawning some mature content for its aging viewers and its new viewers. Batman has always been one of those superheroes that’s hard to joke around with because of the persistent and omnipresent underlying tone of macabre in the storyline. You either love it or hate it and because Marvel hasn’t necessarily had the testicular fortitude to go down that scary path, it’s refreshing to see it with the Dark Knight. BATMAN VS ROBIN treats Batman as he should be treated, a hero in a world of dark.
BATMAN VS ROBIN begins creepily enough with the villain, “The Dollmaker”, a villain who captures children and turns some of them into miniature beasts. This grotesque villain, voiced by “Weird Al” Yankovic, is a bizarre choice that actually pays off, because as an avid fan of the master of musical parody, I actually didn’t recognize him. While he’s already creepy enough man deserving of his own story arc, he’s a simple segue to the mysterious Talon (Jeremy Sisto).
Talon, we learn, is an assassin for the Court of Owls, a secret society compromised of Gotham’s richest. His motives are as thick and shrouded as his full bodied costume. Everything is concealed and the movie slowly peels back what he’s all about and why he’s interested in young Damian Wayans (Allan), Bruce Wayan’s (O’Mara) son. The relationship between father and son is incredibly strained. While Bruce maintains a no-kill code, Damian is already questioning his father’s morals and holds a bit of a grudge since Dick Grayson (Maher) is still in the picture. Grayson is doing his own thing as “Nightwing”, but being Batman’s original son carries a bit of swagger to it; Something that doesn’t quite sit well with Damian.
There’s so many different pairings of conflict between characters that you’d think this movie would have been a bloated two to three hour epic, but it seems like the men behind this movie have found a way to trim every inch of fat, leaving nothing but the meat in the story. The fights aren’t long or drawn out and seem sprinkled in at the exact moments. Maybe some of those who’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars on summer superhero movies should take notice about how well a story can be crafted in such a simple amount of time.
I’ve always enjoyed the animated world more than I have ever the live action world. Live action movies are restrained by constantly having to fall back on well-known heroes and villains as not to alienate their audience. BATMAN VS ROBIN doesn’t care if you don’t know the difference between Damon Wayans and Dick Grayson and chooses an unheard of opponent in the Court of Owls; at least unheard of if you’ve never read the comic books. But the people behind DCU treat them as if they were any other villain, simply treating them like you would an old acquaintance.
The amount of characters in this is never overwhelming and there’s enough screen time for each individual plot point so that the story can move at a generous pace even if it’s barely under an hour and 20 minutes. The only complaint I could have is that the third and final act is bit underwhelming in the scope in which it’s telling the story. But maybe that’s the point. BATMAN VS. ROBIN focuses on the ever-changing and dynamic relationship that Batman has with his son. While he may be a hero in the dark for Gotham, he has to be the one shining beacon of hope in a young boy’s life.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 1:78:1) The movie suffers from poor computer generated material, but when it actually feels like animating, it’s rendered beautifully. The fighting and action scenes are very well done. A great presentation as long as you ignore the blocky CG.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The mixing of bone crunching fights and dialogue is seamless.
Commentary with DC Entertainment’s Creative Director of Animation Mike Carlin, Director Jay Oliva, and Producer James Tucker: Right off the bat (no pun intended), I’ve learned that this can be viewed as a sequel to SON OF BATMAN. It also offers some insights into the evolution of our main heroes. It’s a very interesting commentary for Batman and DC fans from the creators of the film and animators.
Gotham City’s Secret: The Mythic Court of Owls (31:25): This is an incredibly in-depth look at the Court of Owls. They talk about it in relation to the movie, to secret societies in general and in the comic book. It’s very interesting and crafted together like a History Channel documentary.
The Talons of the Owls (14:03): This is another in-depth piece, this time focusing in on the Talon. Also, just like the last, this is an interesting piece.
A Sneak Peek at Justice League: Gods & Monsters (11:08): As obviously stated, this is a sneak peek at DCU next animated movie. From what I’m being told though, this is an alternative history look at the Justice League where Superman is an isolationist hermit in the woods and Batman is a vampire. I’m sold.
From the DC Comics Vault: This is true fan service. This features one episode from four DC animated TV shows. You can watch an HD or DS episode from BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, and YOUNG JUSTICE
Presenting a Merrie Melodies Short: Super Rabbit (8:15): Bugs Bunny in an old Merrie Melodies cartoon.