Saturday, May 9, 2015

Batman vs. Robin

The sequel to 2014's Son of Batman inserts Batman's (Jason O’Mara) contentious relationship with Damian (Stuart Allan) into a streamlined version of the Court of Owls arc from DC's new 52 featuring a secret society of zombie ninja assassins and their 1% overloads all clad in an owl motif. Oh, and they've been around ruling Gotham from the shadows unnoticed for decades and have a giant maze in their basement. Yeah, it's as ridiculous as it sound.

Truncating the unwieldy long arc and motivation of the Court of Owls helps sell the story but the real meat comes not from the new villains but from the struggle of Bruce and Damian to properly connect both as father and son and as Caped Crusaders. Building on events from Son of Batman, Batman vs. Robin may not be as strong as the former but it does continue to develop the relationships set-up in the first film, offers some visually interesting fight sequences, and is a far shade better than DC's other attempts to turn problematic New 52 stories into features.

There certainly are questionable aspects the sequel staring with the extremely dark opening involving the Dollmaker abducting and weaponizing children of Gotham. Despite earning the mantle of Robin in the first film Damian still struggles with living up to his father's expectations and Dick Grayson's (Sean Maher) legacy which at times makes him come off a little too much like a spoiled brat for the movie's own good. Damian also seems to be more murderous than when last we saw him which may help his inner struggle in the film but doesn't make much sense in terms of continuity between the two movies. There's also the issue of Talon (Jeremy Sisto) whose betrayal of the Court, in favor of a boy who chose Batman over him, struggles to sell the film's final act.

Available on both Blu-ray and DVD, extras include two separate featurettes on the Court of Owls and their Talon assassins, an UV digital copy of the film, a behind-the-scenes first look at the upcoming Justice League: Gods & Monsters, audio commentary from Mike Carlin, director Jay Oliva, and producer James Tucker, a Bugs Bunny cartoon, and episodes from various DC Animated TV-shows ("The Color of Revenge!," "Old Wounds," "Obsession," and "Auld Acquaintance").

[Warner Home Video, Blu-ray $24.98 / DVD $19.98]

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