Batman vs. Robin (2015, 79 minutes)
Plot: Robin (Damian Wayne) finds himself falling under the sway of a mysterious new vigilante while Batman inbvestigates the mysterious Court of Owls who want Bruce Wayne to join and Batman to die.
Source Material: This is a direct sequel to Son of Batman (which I liked) and uses concepts from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s incredible Court of Owls storyline. In fact, watched as an adaptation of the idea in the way Captain America: The Winter Soldier and CA:Civil War took the ideas of the sources but weren’t literal adaptations, it’s a rather cracking adaptation. Many of the elements of that story show up here and work well. There’s also a number of subtle references to the new 52 era of Batman.
Animation: Jay Oliva has pretty much cemented himself as the go-to director on these and with good reason. This is probably the best use of the freedom digital cel animation allows for. The action frequently shifts into conventionally CG bits such as during car chases that look 2.5D vs the standard 2D. Action is crackling throughout. Thankfully the characters look equally good with some stellar expression work. One gripe: this still looks a bit too dark for my liking. I may need a brighter TV.
Script: J.M. DeMatteis is one of the great writers of comics period. With such titles as Justice League International, Kraven’s Last Hunt, and Green Lantern: Willworld, he’s cemented his place in the canon. That carries over here, thankfully, with a script that reflects his love of psychologically driven character pieces. This is a great study of the conflict present within Damian, who genuinely isn’t sure where he fits. Furthermore, this is paced like a movie. At 79 minutes, it’s unusually dense with a focused villain, a personal story and more going on than fight scene after fight scene.
Voice Acting: Once more Jason O’Mara and Stuart Allan are in the roles of Batman & Robin. My thoughts are unchanged with both doing solid work.Sean Maher returns as Nightwing and is once again a perfect take on the character. Jeremy Sisto, who played Batman in Justice League: The New Frontier, plays the anti-Batman Talon and does a really great job, bringing a surprising level of sympathy to a villain role. But the real fun for this one comes from cameos by Kevin Conroy as Thomas Wayne and in the role of psychotic child murderer The Dollmaker, Al Yankovic. Yes, “Weird” Al Yankovic plays a child killer and does such a great job I had no idea it was him until the credits.
Final Verdict: So far, 5s have been given out to Batman: Under the Red Hood, Justice League: The New Frontier, and of course to Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Those were films that stood on their own and could be thrown on at any time. This does require at least knowing who Damian is, which makes watching Son of Batman a bit of a must. But you know what? Not letting that stop me. Easily a 5/5 in my book. This was better than at least two of the theatrical comic book movies I’ve seen this year.