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Batman Vs Robin (2015)
Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 4/14/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/8/2015
For those who don't know, comic books are the ultimate serials and they put soap operas to shame (and not just because characters inexplicably return from the dead all of the time.) In comics, stories build for decades, introducing hundreds of characters, and there are plenty of incidences where if you miss a single issue, you may not know what is going on. Movies based on comic books did not used to be this way. DC has been releasing impressive animated films based on their books for years, and the majority were stand-alone stories. However, recent titles likeJustice League: War and its sequel Justice League: Throne of Atlantis show that DC now wants to create series with its movies. That's great, save for the fact that I missed Son of Batman. That meant that I had no idea what was happening in the newly released Batman Vs Robin.
Batman Vs Robin clearly opens some time after Son of Batman, as we are supposed to know that the new Robin, Damian Wayne (voiced by Stuart Allan) is Bruce Wayne's (voiced by Jason O'Mara) biological son, and Bruce is in the process of legally adopting Damian. (If I understood correctly, Damian had previously been in the care of Batman's arch enemy Ras Al Ghul, but I may have heard that wrong.) Damian was trained as an assassin and he's a headstrong child who hates rules and authority. As the film opens, Damian has stolen the Batmobile, and is investigating a series of kidnappings. Batman eventually catches up with him and together they confront The Dollmaker (voiced by 'Weird Al' Yankovic). While Batman is busy fighting off The Dollmaker's minions, Damian meets Talon (voiced by Jeremy Sisto), a violent vigilante. As Bruce attempts to connect with Damian and keep him in Wayne Manor, the boy goes out as night, where he meets Talon again and agrees to train with him. Talon is a member of The Court of Owls, a centuries-old secret society who watch over Gotham City. Considered by many to simply be an urban legend, the Court of Owls is now ready to take back Gotham, and only one thing stands in their way -- Batman.
First of all, let me say that I see the Court of Owls mask in Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million all of the time and I glad to finally understand what it is.
Unlike some of the other movies in this line, the story in Batman Vs Robin isn't taken directly from a specific comic book, but rather it was inspired by a series featuring Batman taking on The Court of Owls, and it contains some very interesting facets. Again, having not seen Son of Batman, the first thing that jumped out at me here was the new Robin and his connection to Batman. It was interesting to see Batman, who has been portrayed as very dangerous and possibly insane in some of the DCU outings, as nurturing and understanding. Secondly, we have the inclusion of Nightwing (voiced by Sean Maher), a character that I personally don't see very often. (For those of you not in the know, Nightwing is the original Robin, Dick Grayson, all grown up and still being a superhero.) Thirdly, the Talon character is intriguing, as he is very similar to Batman, but he's willing to cross the line and kill. Lastly, here we have Bruce Wayne, son of Gotham City, facing an organization which has been around for centuries. Bruce thought that he knew all about the city, so learning of this is a bombshell to him.
The movie presents a nice mix of action, mystery, and drama, as it balances its focus between Batman's race to stop The Court of Owls, while he also fights to keep Damian. Damian isn't necessarily a likeable character, but we know that he's better off with Bruce, so we wait to see what will happen there. Batman titles are long-since known for their colorful villains and Talon is a nice shift away from the legacy. Again, he's a lot like Batman, and we don't hate him. Instead, it's easy to admire his level-headedness and confidence. But, he is a killer and must be stopped.
My one major complaint about Batman Vs Robin is that Batman spends too much of the movie getting beat up. Yes, Batman writers love to put him through the wringer and see how far he can be pushed, especially in a short amount of time, but we came here to see a great superhero, not someone who is constantly being bandaged up. I know that this was supposed to make Batman more vulnerable, but it simply made me wonder when he was going to improve his armor and get the job done. That aside, Batman Vs Robin is an impressive title which may not satisfy those looking for a word-for-word adaptation of the Court of Owls series, but all others will enjoy the action.
Batman Vs Robin has 'Weird Al' and that's all you need to know on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 19 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good, although the movie is dominated by dark tones, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is very good and depth adds to the action scenes. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are nicely done, as they highlight sounds coming from off-screen. The surround sound effects really come into play during the action sequences, most notably during the museum scene. These scenes also offer impressive subwoofer effects.
The Batman Vs Robin Blu-ray Disc contains a handful of extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Creative Director of Animation of DC Mike Carlin, Director Jay Oliva, and Supervising Producer for DC Animation James Tucker. "Gotham City's Secret: The Mythic Court of Owls" (32 minutes) contains interviews with several members of the creative team at DC Comics, who discuss the creation of the Court of Owls, and how the idea has come to permeate the history of Gotham City. The piece does a great job of showing us many, many panels from comics containing these characters. It also compares the Court of Owls with secret societies from real life. "The Talons of the Owls" (14 minutes) examines the Talon character, along with the foot soldiers who work for the Court of Owls. This gives us much more background on the characters than we get in the movie. We get a bonus episode of each of the following; Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, and Young Justice. We also get a Bugs Bunny short, "Super-Rabbit".
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long