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Batman: Under the Red Hood

A DC Universe Animated Original Movie based on the "A Death in the Family" and "Under the Hood" Batman comic story lines.

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Dark, Action-Packed, Fun But Misses Emotional Opportunity...

  • Aug 9, 2010
Rating:
+4
I’ve never been such a big fan of producer Bruce Timm’s animated movies that feature characters from the DC universe. I always looked at them as the way Michael Bay or J.J. Abrams would take familiar characters and rearrange certain plot devices to suit the needs of an animated movie. Timm’s creations could always entertain, but while they do somewhat give tribute to the source material, he does get overzealous that he loses sight of what the original stories were meant to express and they usually lack solid emotion.

Well, this latest from the DCU universe takes inspiration from the “Death in the Family“, “Return of Jason Todd”, “The Red Hood” and the “Black Mask” storylines that were published in the Dark Knight’s own comic book titles. It takes characters from the those story arcs and makes them in part of one full-length feature film. With the writing of Judd Winick (Green Lantern) at the movie’s central point, my expectations were still reasonable. Let’s get to the bottom line, it isn’t “Return of the Joker” or “Mask of the Phantasm”; it has no direct relation to the fabulous “Batman the animated series” but it is better than the most recent animated movie “Green Lantern”.

          

         

Some years have passed since Jason Todd (Jensen Ackles), the Batman’s second partner who took on the name of “Robin” was murdered by the Joker (John DiMaggio). Batman (voiced by Bruce Greenwood) is now once again fighting crime alone, well, maybe the occasional involvement by Nightwing (the first Robin, voiced by Neil Patrick Harris). Things are being shaken up in Gotham city, seeing as there is a new player in town called “The Red Hood” who muscles his way into the crime scene which sets him on a collision course with the Black Mask (Wade Williams). This Red Hood is after so much more as he takes control of the crime territories. Who is he? All evidence points to Jason Todd…but wasn’t he killed by the Joker?

I have read all the storylines that inspired this movie. While I do think director Brandon Vietti did a good job in the movie’s pacing, the movie does have a lot of plot holes that are just so huge. The film also makes no effort in trying to make a whodunit tale, and it is very predictable. It doesn’t try to hide the identity of the Red Hood, it actually serves it up rather quickly. It is pretty predictable, that even someone who hasn’t read the stories with the smallest knowledge of the Batman comics would be able to figure out how the movie was going to play out--what has you going is the ride, there is a lot of action to be had with the movie and they are pretty good, and I will get to that in a minute.

                 

                

In “Batman Under The Red Hood”, there is no third Robin, no missing mother of Jason Todd, and most of the supporting characters (Including Ras Al Ghul, voiced by Jason Isaacs) are mere devices to make sense of the premise. Even the presence of Nightwing felt rather unnecessary; but at least with Ras Al Ghul, it made a little sense, some sense but yet it is very mandatory. The screenplay also makes a huge misstep--how can criminals know that Nightwing was the 1st Robin? Sorry, guys, those who read the comics know that there are details known only to the good guys. Also, “Black Mask” should be one heavyweight in villainy; here, he is reduced to becoming a mere caricature of a crime lord whose behavior gets a little laughable.

I did like the Joker and as much as I missed Mark Hamill’s voice acting of the homicidal maniac, DiMaggio channeled Ledger’s ‘Joker”. Greenwood is no Kevin Conroy; he does try to channel his style and his hoarse-grating voice but no cigar. The soundtrack was pretty good and it fit’s the mood of the film. The animation was done by a Japanese team so it does have a little of the anime influence about them. This is no cartoon for kids, it is pretty brutal but doesn’t go to the limits of its PG-13 rating. The opening act is about a teen being beaten to death but the blood is somewhat held back.

While it can be seen as a credit, “Under the Hood” does move at a brisk pace to keep the viewer from noticing the mistakes in the movie’s plot. Batman and Nightwing goes on a wild ride as they pursue the Red Hood; the sequence where they chase him around Gotham; it was exciting enough as you see the Dark Knight become emotionally torn with this new opponent. However, I rolled my eyes when typical of Bruce Timm (& company), he injects something so far-fetched that it insulted my knowledge of the comic books--Batman and Nightwing taking down Amazo, the android with all the powers of the Justice League? RRIIGGHHHTTT (I know, I know! Amazo did sort of showed up in the "Red Hood" story arc in the comic series). Sorry, I am all for making it entertaining but it shows how little the producer knew about Amazo. I felt like the time Bane showed up in the film “Batman and Robin” because of the way he sneaked in  this little fight; Amazo felt like a mere device and his limited screentime would have been fulfilled with a no-name robot quite easily since it had no significance to its main premise.

The movie moves real quickly and misses the dramatic implications of the plot. It needed to be longer, to allow the viewer to feel moral implications to its premise and the story felt very rushed. It does have a good final act as Batman, the Joker and the Red Hood comes face to face, and it was a thrill-packed last few minutes; I liked the way it diverted from its source material. The movements in animation are nice and fluid; the fights were nicely done but not inventive. “Batman: Under The Hood” is a fine entertaining movie but far from the quality that is “Batman Mask of the Phantasm”. It is never boring, and it is quite fun. It misses a lot of opportunities, but at the very least, it will entertain the Batman fan.

Recommended! [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
This is a Lunch.com Exclusive Review

    
3 ½ Stars: Dark, Action-Packed, Fun But Misses Emotional Opportunity...

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August 10, 2010
Fantastic review, William. I just watched this film two nights ago myself. I've been letting it settle in a bit before daring attempt a critique. Surprisingly enough I may go as far as to say I liked this one a bit better than even Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (which I took in last night). Of course there is a very good possibility that after doing an entire tour of Marvel/ Lionsgate animated movies, I was just enamored to be back in the DCAU. More thoughts on that to come as soon as I can decode them! lol In the mean time, great review as always. 3.5 Stars is right about where it sits with me as well.
August 11, 2010
I skipped on Crisis on Two Earths actually because I loved the JLA: Justice Lords storyline in the series--I thought what's the point? I await your review, bud, I am also looking forward to that Marvel animated movie reviews--we need to have a super-hero week here in our community!
August 12, 2010
William: I'm making it my mission. I'll do these two DCAU films, all of the Marvel works, and I'm just waiting for Marvel to drop the final volume of Wolverine and the X-Men so I can toss that into the mix as well. I'm struggling to find the time but I love the idea of super-hero week. I'm so in for that!
August 12, 2010
cool. I need to review the entire JLU series; though I have to admit I liked the first three seasons (since they were mini-movies) than JLUnlimited (which became more mainstream).
 
August 09, 2010
Somehow, I'm not surprised by this. Truthfully, I haven't been impressed with any DC animated films since the '90s and nothing since has had the impact of "Batman: The Animated Series" or "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm". As you point out, the newer stuff just seems kind of empty and lacking of any real emotions. Style and action can only take you so far in animation.
August 11, 2010
The thing with Timm is that he does do good action animated movies, but sometimes they tend to be a little gimmicky. This was better than "Green Lantern" or "Superman/Batman: Public Enemies" though. I think the days of "Mask of the Phantasm" and "Return of the Joker" are a thing of the past--unfortunately...at least for now.
August 11, 2010
: (
August 12, 2010
too many forgiving comic book fans lately LOL!
August 12, 2010
I only forgive that which can be redeemed.
 
August 09, 2010
Yeah man you said it all with this one, in fact there is no need fro me to review it. Although I may have liked it a little more than you everything you said is right, and Mask of the Phantasm will most likely never be topped.
August 09, 2010
Oh, please do still review it, Alex. We need all the write ups on this movie as we can get. Thanks!
 
August 09, 2010
Excellent review!! I am interested in seeing this it looks like it might be good.
August 09, 2010
it is pretty entertaining, and while the plot was a little too predictable, it was worth the watch. Give it a rent, the dvd also has a short animated movie on Jonah Hex. Thanks for the read, bud.
August 09, 2010
That's cool I didn't know that the DVD had a short animated film on it I did all my homework on the DVD and I did not find that, thanks for the tip. And I will give it a rent a rent and let you know what I think.
 
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More Batman: Under the Red Hood reviews
review by . August 31, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
EXCELLENT 2 DISC SET
      BATMAN UNDER THE RED HOOD   Batman Under the Red Hood is a new DC Universe animated film based on a few different Batman comics that started with “A death In the Family”. The story as I am sure you know by now centers around the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin. I will point out from the beginning this is no “Mask of the Phantasm” but is by no means a horrible film either. For those of us who read the comics already know basically what …
review by . August 02, 2010
Timm and Co. Have Done it Again
   For those of you who have thought the latest DC Comics adaptations from Bruce Timm and the WB have been more on so-so than really awesome, prepare to be impressed by this latest release. On par or even better than the Mask of the Phantasm and Return of the Joker videos; this movie is based outside of the "Timm-verse"; Batman The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Superman, Justice League, etc and is based on the comic's "Under the Hood" and "A Death in the …
review by . August 02, 2010
What lies beneath the Red Hood?
   This is by far the most violent Batman cartoon I've seen and if it weren't for the lack of blood, this film could rank among the more violent movies I've watched in terms of body count and physical beatings.      Black Mask's power over the drug lords in Gotham is waning as a new villain, Red Hood, is quickly taking control of the trade.  Red Hood's motives are good but his methods are unethical--he will he will clean up Gotham by straight …
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William ()
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About this movie

Wiki

Batman faces his ultimate challenge as the mysterious Red Hood takes Gotham City by firestorm. One part vigilante, one part criminal kingpin, Red Hood begins cleaning up Gotham with the efficiency of Batman, but without following the same ethical code. Killing is an option. And when the Joker falls in the balance between the two, hard truths are revealed and old wounds are reopened.
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Details

Director: Brandon Vietti
Genre: Action, Animation, Crime, Drama, Thriller
Release Date: July 27, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: July 27, 2010
Runtime: 75 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Premiere, Warner Bros. Animation, DC Comics
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