Batman vs Robin a Dysfunctional Father and Son Action Adventure

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Batman vs Robin DC Universe DVD Critical Blast

Picking up from the ashes of SON OF BATMAN, BATMAN VS ROBIN pits father against son in one of the most dysfunctional family dynamics that could be imagined.

Damian Wayne (Stuart Allan) is a ten-year-old assassin, trained by the best in the business. His bloodlust is potentially inborn, what with having Talia al Ghul as a mother. United with his father, Bruce Wayne (Jason O'Mara) for the first time has been tumultuous at best, as Damian is eager to accompany his father in the battle against crime as Batman and Robin. Only this Robin has to be reined in to keep him from killing the bad guys.

As BATMAN VS ROBIN opens, Robin has gone off on his own in search of some missing children taken by The Dollmaker ("Weird Al" Yankovic). It is during this encounter that Robin meets Talon (Jeremy Sisto), who fights like Batman but isn't timid about crossing the line of taking lives. He offers Robin an opportunity to join him, which Robin begins to seriously consider.

When later in the movie, Batman and Talon encounter each other, Robin stands in the way of the Dark Knight's pursuit, leading into the father vs. son battle that gives the film its title. If the thought of a grown man getting into a knock-down drag-out fight with a ten-year-old disturbs you, it should. However, Batman sees the boy differently than other people. At one point in the film, Nightwing (Sean Maher) makes the comment, "He's a ten-year-old boy." Batman quickly responds, "No. He just looks like one." And if one is led to believe that there's no love in Batman for his son -- which would be an easy argument to make, as Bruce introduces Damian to people as his "ward" -- there's always the big burly brawl at the end of the film where Batman takes off all restraints to go after the Court of Owls for their role in attempting to recruit Damian for their own deadly ends.

BATMAN VS ROBIN is a lot of fun, if decidedly mature. The animation is fluid, the artwork is solid and highly detailed, and the story pushes every boundary of it's PG-13 rating in terms of language and situations. In addition to an outstanding voice cast, which also includes Robin Atkin Downes, Grey Griffin and David McCallum, the film has a few Easter eggs in it for the fans. (Pay attention to the digital combination to Bruce Wayne's safe and see if you can determine its significance.)

This particular package comes with a nice external bonus: a Schleich sculpt of Batman as he appears in BATMAN VS ROBIN. The Schleich people are well known for their animals and fantasy resins found in the toy aisle, but it's been fairly under-reported that they have ventured into the DC Universe, producing sculpts of Batman, Superman, The Flash and others.

Bonus features on the disc include the trailers for JUSTICE LEAGUE: THRONE OF ATLANTIS and the upcoming BATMAN UNLIMITED: ANIMAL INSTINCTS. But the real bonus feature here is the extended sneak peek at the next DC Universe title, JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS & MONSTERS. This isn't like sneak peeks in the past, where it was voices over pencils -- the animation shown here is complete, and the story is revealed as original, not an adaptation of a previously published DC comic book. This Justice League is Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman -- but it's not Kal-El, Bruce Wayne or Princess Diana. You'll have to check it out for yourself to see the warped vision Bruce Timm has concocted. It's a humdinger.

Grade: 
4.5 / 5.0