I am not a fan of Damien Wayne. The character has been nothing short of an unlikable brat and basically just there to be an edgier Robin. He wasn't the only reason why Son of Batman was more on the average side however. That film, while of course entertaining, is definitely one of the weakest animated Batman films due to mediocre story progression. There was some hype for the sequel because it would be, partially anyway, adapting the famous Court of Owls arc from the comics. For some odd reason however they decided to title this one "Batman vs. Robin." The title didn't make sense then, and it still doesn't make sense now. Nonetheless, VS. is a far superior watch to its predecessor.
The shadows of Gotham City are no place for a child, but Damian Wayne is no ordinary child. Now bearing the mantle of Robin, he blazes a headstrong and sometimes reckless trail alongside his father, the Batman. While investigating a crime scene, Robin encounters a mysterious figure, Talon, who leads him on a life-altering course through the depths of Gotham's secret society known as the Court of Owls. It's a dangerous journey that will force Batman and Robin to face their most dangerous adversaries... each other!Naturally, the film starts out with Damien going against Batman's orders. It's extremely hard to find this character likable since every time he's on screen he's either a) going against Bruce or b) hurling insults. The story does an okay job developing him as a character however, which deserves praise. Sadly, the short run time of 74 minutes is sometimes felt. For example, Damien almost right away following Talon came off as unrealistically fast. Perhaps the most glaring thing is when Samantha is revealed to be the grand-master of the Court. Bruce is never made aware and that entire romantic subplot feels wasted and forgotten.
It seemed like based on interviews the writing was really trying to make aware that this was not a "Court of Owls" adaption, rather it uses elements from the arc. Interestingly, the final product is quite the opposite. It's actually an adaption while forcing Damien into the story. I for one was thrilled to see it go down like this. But it should be noted that the title doesn't make sense. It really should have been called "Batman - Robin: Court of Owls." The two do of course fight, and it's well choreographed, but it doesn't justify the title. (Though, perhaps the purpose was to lure in people whom might not know what the Court is. After all, who wouldn't pick up a film called "Batman vs. Robin?")
The story begins with a rather creepy intro, which is appropriate since the Doll Maker is quite a surreal character. I must give props to "Weird Al" Yankovic for delivering a fantastic voice portrayal of the villain. Talon was a highlight, as he was in the original comic. We're treated to some intriguing backstory establishing who he was. The dialogue he has with Damien throughout is interesting to listen to. The climax with him in the cave was intense, though his actions seemed a bit out of whack. With the Court destroyed he went to finish off Batman. I suppose one could make an argument that he still wanted to take out Batman so he could be the crime fighter in Gotham. Nonetheless, his actions seemed rather moot without the Court in the background.
Nightwing, like in the previous film, was a welcome addition. His brief scenes just further shows that a story centering around him and Batman would be far more engaging than a Damien team-up. (How Damien managed get the upper hand on Nightwing the world may never know.) Alfred is given a fantastic role, reminding Bruce that sometimes we just need to have a little faith. The fight scenes, as usual, are very well-done. From Batman's fight against the un-dead Owls to Damien's battle with Talon in the climax, they offered some impressive visuals. Not knowing how much of an adaption the film would be to the comic, I was surprised and thrilled to see the infamous hallucination sequence adapted. We rarely get to take a look inside Batman's head and see his fears, so like in the comic it was interesting. The soundtrack is definitely solid; there's a certain level of theatrical quality the themes bring to the table.
Overall, BATMAN VS. ROBIN is far superior film to its previous installment. The story is better, the pacing is better, the fights are better, everything is better. As a partial Court of Owls adaption it succeeds. It even somehow manages to Incorporate Damien's story into the arc. It is however not perfect, and nowhere near the quality of greats such as Under the Hood and The Dark Knight Returns, but is still a very entertaining watch. As long as you refrain from attacking the screen due to Damien's infuriating character, you will be engaged from beginning to end.