Movie Review: Batman Vs. Robin (2015, Dir, Jay Oliva)

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Warning! Spoilers Contained Within! Warning!

With the economic inequality we are suffering through thanks to the one percent’s out of control greed the story line behind DC’s latest animated movie is a timely one. It’s an adaptation of the Court Of Owls arc from Batman in The New 52 line and in Gotham economic inequality comes in the form a secret society made up of the city’s one percent and their children and their descendants, yes, this society was instrumental in the very creation of Gotham centuries before and they call themselves The Court Of Owls. Their objective is to keep the disease of greed flourishing which means Gotham has to suffer for that happen.

Bruce heard of this Court Of Owls when he was a kid, but his parents told him it wasn’t real. He thought differently after they were killed. He thought they may have had something to do with their murders, but he couldn’t find any evidence of their existence much less a link to the crime.

Things change and in the creepy prologue of Batman Vs. Robin he begins to see this secret society may be much more than urban folklore. While Robin is on the outskirts investigating a lead to the kidnappings of some of Gotham’s kids he encounters a psychopath by the name of The Dollmaker (voiced by Weird Al Yankovic). He keeps his victims in cages but there are others who have suffered worse. They’ve been brainwashed, slapped with these creepy kewpie doll masks and turned into savages. Robin must contend with these mind-altered children as Dollmaker unleashes them upon the boy wonder.

It’s out on the snow after he’s chased Dollmaker that Talon, head goon of the Owls, makes his first appearance. Oh, yeah, right after he tears out Dollmaker’s heart. Talon wants Robin to become a member of the Owls, but we the viewer know this all a ploy to get at Batman, but Damien’s ten, he doesn’t know any better, he thinks it’s about him.

More than that Damien won’t tell Batman what happened to Dollmaker, but it’s the owl feather he finds under the psycho’s body that tells him more than he needs to know, and sets him off to the Gotham museum where a gang of “owl soldiers” ambush him pretty much confirming his suspicions. But these aren’t ordinary humans in costumes; they’re actually the reanimated dead. The Court plans to resurrect these dead bodies to take over Gotham while Talon’s working out his own father-son issues with Damien. He wants Damien to be his protégé, and Damien is working out his own issues with his own father, Batman, as he contemplates this offer, but he has to kill to seal the deal, because that’s what being a member of the Court means. Batman holds back, Batman doesn’t kill, the owls do and they think this makes them superior.

Eventually that confrontation the title hints comes to furition and Batman actually has to fight his son to a potential death. We know though he’ll never kill Damien; can’t say the same for Damien though.

Stuart Allen (Damien/Robin) and Jason O’Mara (Batman) reprise their voice roles from Son Of Batman (2014) making this a nice sequel to last year’s movie. If you recall Bruce finds out from Talia al Ghul that she drugged him, got herself deliberately knocked up and that his son has been raised for about a decade by her father, Ra’s al Ghul, to be an assassin. At the end of that movie Batman agrees to mentor the kid to see if he can become a more suitable role model for him than Ghul was, and here we are months later in Batman Vs. Robin where things aren’t entirely going as Bruce had planned. A nature vs. nurture movie on one level. Which is stronger? For a while it appears to be the latter, which was clearly evident as well in Son Of Batman, but there’s an ending on this second chapter that proves bad programming might be alterable. The ending makes sense. I knew Damien would never be Batman’s new Robin, the kid was too volatile, he decides to leave, to go find himself.

I liked Son Of Batman but this is a much better movie, a much better “second chapter” I should add. Nightwing is back too, and voiced again by Sean Maher. The animation, character and action, is as usual just plain excellent!

Back on April 14th Warner Brothers released Batman Vs. Robin in three different editions, the DVD, the DVD/Blu-ray/Digital Copy and the limited edition DVD/Blu-ray/Digital Copy with Batman figure.

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Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.78:1 high definition widescreen—English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 Dolby Digital—English SDH, French, Spanish, German, Korean

Extras include:

  • Audio Commentary by Creative Director of Animation Mike Carlin, director Jay Oliva and producer James Tucker
  • Gotham City’s Secret: The Mythic Court of Owls (31 minutes)
  • The Talons of the Owls (14 minutes)
  • Sneak Peek: Justice League: Gods & Monsters (11 minutes)
  • From the DC Comics Vault: “The Color of Revenge!” from Batman: The Brave and the Bold; “Old Wounds” from Batman: The Animated Series; “Obsession” from Superman: The Animated Series, and “Auld Acquaintance” from Young Justice.
  • Merrie Melodies: Super-Rabbit (8 minutes)

(Note: The DVD version only has the Sneak Peek: Justice League: Gods & Monsters extra, all the other extras are blu-ray exclusives)

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The most surprising extra is the inclusion of a Looney Tunes short, the Merrie Melodies one. I remember seeing it when I was a kid and even though it’s about Bugs Bunny getting Superman-like powers it’s kind if an “out of the box” extra to include. A fun one, don’t get me wrong. It’s the first thing I watched when I saw it, but an odd decision to add it. First time, I think, a Looney Tunes has been added as an extra. I wonder if this is a new trend?

Anyhow, seek this one out, people! Seek. It. Out.

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