Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Batman vs. Robin

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! You know, technically, this fight is actually considered child abuse.  Right?  The next battle will be Batman vs. Child Services.

Batman vs. Robin – 3 out of 5

In a case that is life imitating art…or, more accurately, art reflecting art, the New 52 direction that DC’s animated universe is taking seems to be following the same route the New 52 comics is taking with me. DC has been my go-to company for great animated features (Marvel doesn’t even bother anymore because they are dominating the films and now streaming shows) but, lately, the films have been slipping. I was less than impressed with Son of Batman, I was pretty disappointed with the lackluster treatment Aquaman got in his first animated film and now I’m walking away with a feeling of "meh" to another animated feature. Just like my interested in DC’s New 52, I’ve gone from being super excited about the upcoming prospects to barely registering any interest whatsoever. Still, I have to say, I did dig this one more than Son of Batman.

How does he keep his goggles from fogging up every time he breathes?

The Court of Owls' judgment involved a lot of
throwing up mouse bones.
Loosely based on the "Court of Owls" story arc from the comics, Batman vs. Robin sees the continuing story of Damian Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s son. Damian (Stuart Allan) is trying to put his training from his grandfather and mother behind him and follow his father’s teaching of "justice, not vengeance" but he isn’t having the best time with it. He and Batman (Jason O’Mara) go head-to-head constantly and, after tracking down The Dollmaker ("Weird Al" Yankovic), Batman is convinced that Damian isn’t willing to give up his League of Assassin’s training. However, what Batman missed was a mysterious stranger called Talon (Jeremy Sisto) who appeared out of nowhere and killed The Dollmaker—effectively accomplishing what Damian stopped himself from doing. Now, it seems, Talon is trying to lure Damian away from Batman and have him accomplish what he truly wants to accomplish when battling crime. However, Batman is convinced that Talon is laying a trap by courting his son and this conflict builds to a boil and Batman and Robin come to blows.

Batman pretends he didn't want to fight his own son but, deep down, you know
he's enjoying this a little bit.

Overall, Batman vs. Robin is a fairly decent addition to DC’s shared animated universe and a better follow-up to Son of Batman. I’m not the biggest fan of Damian Wayne (I find his character to be grating and he is, without a doubt, my least favorite Robin) but the film did do a great job of developing him and showing him struggle with his training from his grandpa Ra’s al Ghul and his mother Talia and what his father is trying to instill in him. I do like the conflict between Bats and Damian and it definitely made for a great character-based drama within the comic book tale.

I still don't like you, Damian.

Like all other animated features from DC, the animation looks good and the voice acting is still great. Some of the character designs—mostly when characters are out of costume—lack individuality, however. Batman, Nightwing, and Talon all pretty much look the same when they remove their costumes. The same is seen when you compare a young Talon and Bruce Wayne to the character design of Damian. Aside from eye color and hair styles, the character designs give off a clone feel and it is mildly (but not completely) distracting. Ultimately, however, I can easily overlook this because generic body types have plagued DC’s animated features (and comics, in general) for a long time.

Forget character design for a second, here's a pic of Alfred with a shotgun.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this feature was the voice acting cast. I’ve already stated in the past that I am now officially sold on Jason O’Mara being Batman but I found it incredibly cool that they brought in my personal favorite Batman to provide the voice of Bruce Wayne’s father Thomas. 

Me and my favorite Batman; Kevin Conroy!


It was super cool getting to hear Kevin Conroy’s iconic voice play a different Wayne. Additionally, I really liked hearing "Weird Al" do a more serious, and very demented, role as he voiced The Dollmaker. At first, I didn’t recognize it as Yankovic’s voice but that shows how well he was doing his job at bringing the character to life. 

It's nice to see that The Dollmaker takes time to be both insane and a fitness

For the one person in existence who doesn't know who
this is, this is Batman.  Also, welcome to the world,

new born baby!
Everything else about the film is, more or else, decent and functional. The story is a decent adaptation of the story arc and the action isn’t memorable but it is workable—except for the fight between Batman and Robin. (That shit was on the ball, son!) One thing that felt a tad sloppy (and this is something I’m seeing increasingly more of in the DC animated world), is how rush the story feels. Everything feels like it is moving too quickly and further development isn’t being taken into consideration. I understand this is a Direct-to-DVD animated feature but why should that limit it to being just under 90 minutes? A little extra time might have made the Court of Owls have a little more legitimacy to their threat level, Damian’s internal conflict and desire to reject Batman’s teaching for a more satisfying lesson from Talon could have been deeper, and more action might have helped this film a lot. However, as it is, it works and is entertaining enough to be watchable…just not as memorable as other, earlier, DC animated films.

I don't need to see Nightwing popping his pimples.

Batman vs. Robin is, without a doubt, not one of my favorite animated films DC has produced in its shared animated universe. It’s functional, definitely entertaining in the moment, and does develop Damian Wayne’s character nicely after Son of Batman but it doesn’t have the same edge, addictive nature, or replay value of early Batman animated features like Gotham Knight, The Dark Knights Returns Part 1 & 2, Under the Red Hood or any of the features that see him team with Superman and the rest of the Justice League.

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