Well, with a busy week done, I got to tackle my "to-watch" pile of new Blu-Rays, and right at the top was the latest DC Universe Original Movie
Batman vs. Robin
Directed by Jay Olivia
Starring the voices of Jason O'Mara, Stuart Allan, Sean Maher, Jeremy Sisto, Grey Griffin, Kevin Conroy, and "Weird Al" Yankovic
Backstory: As I've blogged before, I'm starting to grow bored with the DC Universe Original movies. What once was a great project to bring life to some classic DC properties has now become, "Hey! What was that New 52 storyline that sold really well last year? Let's just do that!" And the fact that this one is a sequel to Son of Batman, which I found disappointing. For those who don't remember Son of Batman introduced the latest Robin, Damien Wayne, the long lost son of Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Guhl. Kept secret from Batman, and raised by his grandfather Ra's Al Guhl to be the deadliest member of the League of Assassins, but soon reunited with his father and set loose on the streets of Gotham. But rather than analyze the dynamic of Batman's figurative son becoming his literal son, it was just another Robin origin story. The New 52 storyline this draws from is Night of the Owls, which introduced an interesting new villain for Batman: The Court of Owls, a secret society that has controlled Gotham City from the shadows for centuries, and the Talons, their chief assassins. So...yeah. Expectations were low going in.
Plot: Young Damien Wayne is growing frustrated. Bruce Wayne is keeping him cooped up in Wayne Manor, as he's reluctant to reveal to the world that he now has a son. The growing tensions lead to Damien frequently going out on his own as Robin, and he soon encounters another vigilante named Talon. Talon professes to be a fan of Batman's work, but knows that Batman hinders himself by refusing to kill. Talon, however, feels the ends justifies the means, and wants to help Robin meet his full potential. Meanwhile, Batman's latest case brings up some startling evidence. The Court of Owls, long considered to be a myth, may actually be real, and Batman is being set up for a confrontation with them. It's soon learned that Robin is pawn in the war between Batman and Talon, and soon Robin must choose a side. Will Batman and Robin actually fight each other to the death?
What I Liked: Well, this did resolve one of my biggest letdowns with Son of Batman, and that is Bruce and Damien Wayne actually developing some kind of father/son relationship. A good chunk of the movie is about Batman/Bruce Wayne actually, finally accepting Damien as his son, and it's good to see that play out. Talon is an interesting villain, as he is kind of a dark reflection of Batman, and a warning as to what Damien could grow up to be. And the voice acting is starting to grow on me. It's fun seeing Kevin Conroy (THE voice of Batman) put in a cameo as Thomas Wayne in a flashback. And Weird Al! Holy moly, Weird Al as the Dollmaker! I had no freaking idea Weird Al could get so...creepy.
What I Didn't Like: Secret societies have been done. And the titular Batman vs. Robin fight is way too brief.
Final Verdict: A step up from Son of Batman, but still can't shake the "been there, done that" hanging over this franchise.
Bonus Features: The typical bonuses. A featurette on the Court of Owls. A featurette on Talon. A running commentary with the director. A bunch of bonus cartoons from the DC Animated Universe (even a Bugs Bunny cartoon!) And a sneak preview of the next film, Justice League: Gods and Monsters.