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'Batman: Death in the Family' lets viewers decide Robin's interactive fate

October 13, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Interactivity has become a bit of an overused gimmick, including "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch" to "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" on Netflix. Still, such stunts are only as good as their execution, and the Warner Bros. Animation delivers with "Batman: Death in the Family," which, with the Robert Pattinson movie delayed, might be the only version of Batman fans see for a while.

Animation delivers with "Batman: Death in the Family," which, with the Robert Pattinson movie delayed, might be the only version of Batman fans see for a while.

This latest choose-your-own-adventure exercise falls into the category of DC's edgy direct-to-Blu-ray movies (earning, and carrying, an R rating), so the target audience in grown fanboys, not kids.

But unlike a lot of these exercises, the viewer's choices take the story in wildly different directions, to the point where it feels like a distinct experience watching each version and its various forks in the road.

Adapted from a 1988 comic that engaged in its own interactive stunt -- allowing readers to call a 900 number and vote on whether sidekick Robin would live or die -- this version of the Dark Knight has an older Batman (voiced by Bruce Greenwood) raising that new Robin, Jason Todd (Vincent Martella), who has a particularly nasty, revenge-oriented disposition.

Ah, but the audience has three choices: Robin dies, Batman saves Robin, or Robin cheats death.

Unlike a lot of prior interactive endeavors, it's actually worth watching all the "Death in the Family" permutations to see the wide variations.

That's not to say "Batman: Death in the Family" isn't a gimmick too, but at least it's a fun, inventive one -- and a pretty clever way to kill time on a long, dark night.

"Batman: Death in the Family" is available on Blu-ray or for digital download beginning Oct. 13.

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