Title: Batman: Under the Red Hood
Starring: Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles, Neil Patrick Harris
Directed by: Brandon Vietti
Written by: Judd Winick
Studio: Warner Bros
Runtime: 76 Minutes
Release Date: 7/27/2010
In recent years, both Marvel and DC Comics have been releasing animated movies based on characters from their respective universes left and right. From DC we have seen Superman Doomsday, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Justice League and several tales from the ‘Dark Knight’. Each of the movies were good and catered to the core fan base of each character however; they were also accessible to fans of all ages, until now. Batman: Under the Red Hood definitely still caters to the Batman fan base but this tale takes the franchise down a decidedly darker path presents the viewer with a more adult themed story of vengeance and betrayal.
Our story opens with the ending of one of the most popular Batman story arcs, 'Death in the Family' in which Robin, Jason Todd not Dick Grayson, has been captured by ‘The Joker’ and is being beaten to death with a crowbar as the world’s greatest detective races to the scene to save his young protégé. As the Joker torments and continues to beat the young caped crusader, he spews an epithet of maniacal ramblings in an effort to get the boy wonder to breakdown but even as the Joker gets more and more sadistic and violent, Robin literally and defiantly spits back in his face. As Batman (Greenwood) arrives at the scene and makes his way toward the place that Robin (Ackles) is being held, the container explodes into a ball of fire. Quickly sifting through the rubble, the caped crusader comes face to face with his greatest fear, the body of his dead partner Robin.
The movie advances five years down the road and Batman is chasing down a threesome of criminals that have just stolen a suspicious crate that is home to a robotic super soldier called 'Amazo' that he must now defeat. Joined by Dick Grayson, once Batman’s protégé Robin and now Nightwing, the Dark Knight and his partner take out the Amazo and return to the criminals to start questioning where the orders came from but, before they can answer, each criminal is shot and killed leaving Batman to chase the shooter down from across several city blocks.
After chasing the shooter across what seems like most of Gotham City, Batman catches up with him at the same refinery that he first met the Joker, or should I say created the Joker? Now face to face with the shooter, Batman does his best to capture the red hooded criminal but falls short and must now figure out who this new criminal is and stop him before it’s too late.
I have always been a fan of Batman comics and graphic novels and Death in the Family was one of the darkest chapters ever created by DC for the Batman universe and while I appreciate what Under the Red Hood has done in that it brings the darker side of the Batman series to an animated feature film, I would have preferred that they just made a movie out of the original story. That’s not to say the Under the Red Hood is a bad story because it actually is a very good story line and really plays well into the tone that Chris Nolan has set for Batman in movies however; the kid in me wishes I could have seen Death in the Family played out completely.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=4506&w=o[/img]The voice acting was fair for this type of movie and Neil Patrick Harris really kind of stands out as Nightwing with a very cocky and confident performance that plays perfectly into Nightwing’s persona. Bruce Greenwood is pretty good as Batman and gives the character a well deserved break from the animated series favorite Kevin Conroy. John DiMaggio of Marcus Fenix/Gears of War fame lends his voice to the Joker and does an adequate job of changing things up a bit.
Speaking of ‘Batman the Animated Series’, I found that the animation in Red Hood was very reminiscent of the 90’s series. Gotham City had a very gritty and criminal feel to it and the cityscape was very gothic in feel as well. I was a fan of the old series myself and was particularly fond of the 'Mask of the Phantasm' feature film that came out and I always thought that the animation in it was pretty good when it originally came out.
Rated PG-13 for violent content, some language and some drug references.
This one is a little tricky but I’ll do my best. Red Hood isn’t what I would call a reference title by any means but it really seems to be more related to the dark and gritty feel of the animation much more than any kind of deficiency in the transfer. The lines are sharp as is the detail but there is always a “darker than it should be” look to the film. Colors are very good and do not blend into one another and I was a bit taken off guard by the amount of depth to the colors. Robin’s red suit for instance was deep in color and had great contrast to the yellow from his belt and ‘R’ logo.
On the negative side of the house, skin tones, the Joker’s white face and pretty much many other light textures are plagued with banding and it is very annoying once you start noticing it. There is also a lot of artifacting present throughout, especially in the opening credits. In the end, these issues are fairly limited but when they do happen they are incredibly annoying.
5.1 DTS HD MA anyone? Yes please! The audio codec on this new animated Batman movie is very big and boomy! I liked the scene involving the ‘Amazo’ cyborg in the beginning as there were some nice explosions and a lot of detail can be heard falling around. The roar of the batmobile and batplane sounded very nice and I was very impressed with the movie’s score as it added to the overall ambience of each scene. The theme music is very fitting and truly heroic sounding in nature. Don't get me wrong, this isn't reference material but it does make for an excellent movie experience.
[*]Robin: The Story of Dick Grayson
[*]A First Look at 'Superman/Batman Apocalypse'
[*]"Robin's Reckoning: Part 1"
[*]"Robin's Reckoning: Part 2"
[*]"The Laughing Fish"
[*]DC Showcase – "Jonah Hex"
[*]Robin's Requiem: The Tale of Jason Todd
Definitely not something that should be run out and bought for your younger children but overall, Batman: Under the Red Hood is an entertaining and rousing animated movie that is highly recommended to any Batman or DC Comics fan. The story elements are a bit on the darker side and the PG-13 rating should be adhered to. Until next time campers, have a good day and in case I don't see ya later, a good afternoon, a good evening, and good night! :wave: