Batman vs. Robin (2015) / Animation-Action
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for intense action and violence, suggestive images and thematic elements
Running Time: 80 min.
Cast (voices): Jason O'Mara, Stuart Allan, Jeremy Sisto, David McCallum, Grey Griffin, Sean Maher, Kevin Conroy, Trevor Devall, Robin Atkin Downes, Griffin Gluck, Peter Onorati, Andrea Romano, 'Weird Al' Yankovic
Director: Jay Oliva
Screenplay: J.M. DeMatteis
Review published April 3, 2015
Batman vs. Robin is an original feature entry into Warner Bros'' 'DC Animated Universe', somewhat of a follow-up to Son of Batman, whereby Bruce Wayne continues to have to deal with keeping the occasionally vicious nature of his soon-to-be-adopted son Damian's rebelliousness in check. As with nearly all of the DC animated films thus far, it's partially inspired by events that happened in the comic books, specifically in Scott Snyder's "Court of Owls" 'Batman' crossover threads from 2012.
While young Damian Wayne (Allan, "Jedi Camp") has made a splash as Batman's sidekick in fighting crime as the new incarnation of Robin, Bruce Wayne (O'Mara, In a World...) has hidden him from the public as his son so as not to make the connection that he is Batman too easy for the public too easy. While they make for an effective team, tension erupts between the two, as Damian doesn't fully understand why they should show restraint when handling despicable criminals that are better off dead.
The lad is soon approached by a another costumed vigilante known as Talon (Sisto, Robot & Frank), who agrees with him that he should act on his instincts to eradicate the cancer of crime permanently. It all ties together when it is revealed that there is a secret society running the city called The Court of Owls, who may have had a role to play in the death of Bruce Wayne's parents, and now, they're out to take down interlopers like Batman for good.
The animation is done in the anime-tinged style that most of the current crop of comic-based animated features are developed in. There's more emphasis on choreography in the hand-to-hand combat, which does make it at least different than most in this regard.
My main problem with the film, and this goes for the comic and live-action films in which he appears as well: I am not really a fan of Robin, especially stories in which he is integral to the main plot. I haven't liked any of the various incarnations of him, and I find the father/son interplay to really take away the best thing about Batman as a character: his complicated mystique. Of course, Robin is supposed to give younger viewers someone to identify with, but we already have plenty of teenage superheroes with teenage problems, so why they keep having to bring back Robin to the Batman mix seems to only serve to dilute the product.
Batman vs. Robin, while a step up from Son of Batman in execution, is fairly standard in most respects, and will likely only be of interest to hardcore Batman aficionados (who will love the choice 'easter eggs') and those deeply entrenched in the DC Animated Universe series of films. Most everybody else will probably not 'give a hoot' about seeing Batman fight a bunch of owl-men.
-- Trivia: renown song parodist Weird Al Yankovic (UHF) voices the Dollmaker
-- Followed by Batman: Bad Blood.
©2015 Vince Leo