Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Batman vs. Robin Review

Batman vs. Robin Review
DC Animation has done it again.
It's no secret that I am a huge Batman fan. He is an agile and flexible character that has survived several different authors, styles, eras and atmospheres. Batman is a character who can whimsical and witty or dark and brooding. Each style and work based on how you write the character. The most popular characterization is the darker, grittier style and I really feel that is how the character is treated best. While I feel that DC animation has done an astounding job with all the characters in the DC stable, I love a good-old Batman-specific tale.
This story revolves around Bruce Wayne and Damien Wayne. I can't remember which number Robin Damien Wayne was, but it is true. Bruce had a ill-legitimate son with Ra's Al-Ghul's daughter Talia. We don't get too much into that, this movie soils itself in the dynamic of Bruce taking on a father role and how he must be Damien's father as well as his trainer. Damien is training to be Batman's new Robin as Dick Grayson takes on his Nightwing persona. While Batman and Robin work well together, it is evident that Damien is at a crossroads with himself. See, not only has Bruce Wayne trained him, but so has his grandfather Ra's, and both men have very different philosophies about how to treat good and evil, and this crisis of conscience in Damien causes friction in the relationship with his father.
There relationship is further tested when Robin is approached by a representative of the Court of Owls, a group of mysterious power figures in Gotham who have apparently been protecting the city from evil since the colonial times. The Court sees the strength in this edgier Robin who possesses a willingness to kill, but doesn't use it because of his father. This is the camel that breaks the camels back, and Batman soon finds himself fighting off his own flesh and blood while also investigating the Court of Owls.
The style in this movie is off-the-charts cool and kind of blends different styles of the Batman legend together perfectly. If you like the more real-world approach that Nolan coined, there is some of that. The film opens with Batman and Robin rescuing the Dollmaker, a character is becoming very popular thanks to the CW shows. The Dollmaker in this movie is exactly what you'd expect a child-kidnapping, murder would look like and it is kind of horrifying. If you like the comic book elements of Batman, those are here too! There is some stuff that is kind of goofy involving the plot of the Court of Owls. But its not so silly that it will take you out of the movie. If Ben Affleck's Batman looks even remotely like this, it will work big time. They make realism and fantasy blend so well here that it almost feels like a miracle. The fight scenes are also a terrific spectacle and actually feel like they hurt.
The voice work is impeccable. Stuart Allen provides for Damien Wayne, Jason O'Mara provides for Bruce Wayne, Sean Maher provides for Nightwing and Jeremy Sisto provides for Talon, the Owl who approaches Robin, all of whom do splendid work. The legendary Kevin Conroy, who originally provided his voice on the 1990's animated series returns for flashback scenes involving Thomas Wayne and I just get Goosebumps every time he speaks. Weird Al Yankovich apparently gave the voice for Dollmaker, which was so affective that I can't believe it was him. These actors really got into the characters and worked it out well.
In a world where people are complaining about who is playing who in the upcoming DC Cinematic Universe or how bad they thought the new Joker looks, all I have to say is if Zak Snyder and company take at least a few ideas from the animated DC playbook, they are going to be just fine. This is another solid entry and I can't wait for more.

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