Movie Review – Batman vs Robin (2015)

Director: Jay Olivia

Stars: Jason O’Mara, Stuart Allen, Kevin Conroy, Robin Atkin Downes, Grey Griffin, Sean Maher, David McCallum, Jeremy Sisto

Next year is Batman vs Superman but this year the battle is close to home. Batman has been caring after his son, Damian Wayne, but is still trying to instil in him the same sense of morality. Damian is struggling with Batman’s insistence not to kill, and this causes tension between them. When the Court of Owls try to woo Robin in order to take out Batman, Bruce is haunted by his past, and fears that he is losing his son.

The film begins with a raid on an old toy shop in which the Dollmaker is holding children. It’s very creepy to see the Dollmaker and some of the children wearing masks made out of dolls, but it ties in thematically with the film, and how trapped Damian feels. Given that he’s so reckless Batman decides to try and put a leash on him, but this only makes Damian more frustrated and he eventually is seduced by the Court of Owls and their vigilante – Talon.

I’ve always enjoyed discussions about morality when it comes to heroes, and this film carries over some of that discussion from the previous film that introduced Damian. I liked how it ties in with Bruce’s past as well. He lost his family and the struggle he has with his own son takes its toll. I also enjoy how Damian is contrasted with Nightwing. Batman tried to build himself a family and Dick was like a son/brother, but now he actually has a son but Damian is much harder to control. The film even delves into Bruce’s subconscious in a compelling sequence that gets to the route of his fears. It’s a similar thing to what we’ve seen when he’s under the influence of Scarecrow, but it is effective.

The Court of Owls are made up masked individuals and their foot soldiers, who are kind of like zombies but it’s not really gone into any great detail. They’re basically cannon fodder, although there are some fairly intense action scenes. The ones I have to comment on are the fights between Damian and Batman/Nightwing. I know it’s a comic book film but Damian is only ten years old, so it’s a little unsettling to see two grown men fight him. I know he’s been trained by the League of Assassins and in some ways he’s not a child at all, but it’s still weird to see Batman fighting him.

I enjoyed the character of Talon as well, showing Damian what a version of Batman could be like if he didn’t have the strong moral code. There was a revelation at the end that could have been done away with as I didn’t think it added much to the story, and it happened so late in the game that it wasn’t able to be explored, but Talon was a cool character. Alfred had some good moments too, and it was a nice touch to have Kevin Conroy voice Thomas Wayne in flashbacks (yes, we get to see Thomas and Martha get shot down again).

Batman vs Robin is a story with a lot of substance. I like how it deals with the issue of Batman trying to be a good father, but the lines are blurred between father and son, protege and mentor, hero and sidekick. The Court of Owls provide an interesting adversary, although that’s mainly due to the development given to Talon.

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