Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)

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As a person who is a big fan of the DC Universe, I have watched and enjoyed the animated movies that Warner Brothers have been releasing 2 or 3 times a year. Some have been very good (Wonder Woman, New Frontier), and most have been enjoyable, but the newly released Under the Red Hood is the first movie that I truly believe is a fully realized film.

The movie starts on a very brutal note as the Joker (John DiMaggio) is severely beating Robin while Batman is furiously racing to rescue him. For once, Batman is too late and the second Robin, Jason Todd, is found dead in the rubble, beaten and blown up by the Joker.

Flash forward five years, Gotham City’s underworld is being taken over by Black Mask (Wade Williams) with only The Red Hood as an obstacle in his path. While the Red Hood is a crime boss, he sees himself as the next level of a crime fighter, taking the last step by killing the criminals he feels deserves it. Batman (Bruce Greenwood) and Nightwing (Neil Patrick Harris) are on The Red Hood’s trail, but soon realize that he will be harder to take down than they originally thought.

As things escalate, Batman begins to realize that the Red Hood is none other than Jason Todd, back from the dead thanks to his old opponent, Ra’s Al Gul. Meanwhile, the Black Mask takes the ultimate risk and frees the Joker from Arkham in the hopes that he can get rid of The Red Hood.

For people that don’t know, the second Robin, Jason Todd, was never a popular character in the comics. He was annoying, brash and someone that people simply did not want to spend time with. Todd was so annoying that when DC let the fans decide whether he should live or die in a telephone poll, the fans chose death. When he came back, it was in a really contrived way and he was again brash and annoying.

The creators could never decide whether to turn him into a villain or a fractured and broken superhero. Since he kept bouncing from one extreme to another, Todd never became a formidable foe for Batman or a tragic character that people rooted to win. The only time he was an interesting character was during, Judd Winick’s original arc, "Under the Red Hood." Thankfully, Winick adapted his own graphic novel and turns the movie into a lean and mean film. For many of the DC Animated films, the 75 minute limits  feel too short, but Under the Red Hood was given room to breathe.

The voice acting was top notch and I cannot think of a better person to voice Jason Todd Todd than Jensen Ackles ("Supernatural"). He makes Jason tough, crazy and bitter but always keeps a little bit of hurt and uncertainty in his voice that you believe he still can be saved. In the end, when Batman and him air out all their problems, you can see how he could justify his actions, even if they are wrong. Ackles does what I would have thought impossible, he made Jason Todd someone you almost like and I hope he works in this universe more in the future.

While no one can ever replace Kevin Conroy and Mark Hammil as THE voices of Batman and Joker, Greenwood and Di Maggio made these characters their own. Greenwood makes Batman/Bruce Wayne a man of few words. The times he does speak his voice is quiet but forceful. Di Maggio makes his Joker less crazy and unpredictable and more of a really tough and whacked out guy. His Joker was closer to Frank Miller’s dark and morbid Joker than past animated versions. Together with Ackles and Neil Patrick Harris, the main voice actors are all perfect.

With the acting, the writing was really strong and the movie is at its best during dialogue scenes. The creators of the film must have known the true fireworks were not in the numerous explosions or car chases but in the scenes when characters come face to face with each other. It is very rare that a movie like this ends not with big chase scenes or elaborate action pieces but with the main characters talking to one another.

This film earns its PG-13 rating, not only because of the violence (the creators apparently really like setting people on fire) but also because it probably won’t keep younger kids' attention spans because the movie is less about action and more about relationships. While there are a few minor problems (I probably wouldn’t have made Black Mask so folksy sounding) I thoroughly enjoyed this film and thought it kept getting better as it went along. While all these animated films are at least worth a viewing if you are a fan of the DC Comics, this is the first movie DC animated movie I believe is worth owning since Return of the Joker many years ago.

One final thing, make sure you watch the Jonah Hex short included on the disc, it is definitely worth your 11 minutes.

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Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)

This film is currently available on DVD.

Directed by Brandon Vietti
Starring Bruce Greenwood

Posted by Ryan

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