This is a great - and very dark - animated Batman film, released as part of the ongoing DC animated original movies collection. This film draws on the comic book series, in particular two main storylines: 1988's "Batman: A Death in the Family" and 2005's "Under the Hood".
This is the tale of Batman's partner, Jason Todd, who - as the heroic second Robin - is killed by the Joker and, subsequently, resurrected by Ra's al Ghul ... becoming the villainous Red Hood.
Gotham City is plunged into a reign of terror, with a new criminal gangster taking over - this new mysterious Red Hood. So Batman, aided by the first Robin (Dick Grayson), who's now grown up and operating as Nightwing, seeks to capture this menacing figure. But Red Hood knows all of Batman's tactics, and is capable of fighting back. In the midst of the ensuing chaos, Joker escapes Arkham Asylum and gets involved ... The Red Hood wants revenge, on both Joker (for killing him) and Batman (for letting the Joker live). So a final showdown takes place.
This film captures the tragedy and heartache experienced by Batman, as originally depicted in the comic book series. This is a macabre and gritty tale, with violence shown throughout. It is, perhaps, the second most disturbing and poignant moment in Batman's life (after the murder of his parents). And this movie portrays the story brilliantly.
There's plenty of action and thrills, and overall it's a highly fascinating adventure. The quality of the Blu-ray is superb. There are several bonus features, including an animated short film about Jonah Hex.
This is not a film for children. It's a movie for adult fans.
on 11 October 2010
Warner Brothers Animation is continuing with its quality direct-to-DVD films that take established comic stories that are fairly true to their origins, albeit abbreviated and somewhat altered. This latest release sports superb animation, an engaging storyline, and fine voiceover work for a gifted cast.
Bruce Greenwood, though not Kevin Conroy, makes a good Batman/Bruce Wayne. Those of us who prefer Conroy in the role, can be satisfied with Greenwood's interpretation.
Jensen Ackles, star of "Supernatural," is excellent as the enigmatic Red Hood and Wade Williams fares very well in the role of The Black Mask. Neil Patrick Harris makes a great Nightwing/Dick Grayson.
However, John Dimaggio is OK as The Joker but the film would benefit the inclusion of Mark Hamill in the part. His is the definitive voice while Dimaggio comes off a little bit too Heath-Ledger-like.
David Warner should also have been a participant in the film as Ra's Al Ghul. Jason Isaac's just doesn't have Warner's distinctive menace. And if 92-year-old Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. hasn't retired, then his should have been the voice of Alfred as in did in the Batman animated series and subsequent movies and television follow-ups.
The PG-13 rating for the film is warranted for the violent content and the occasional profanity; thus, for the parents who may not pay attention to the rating, the DVD should come with a more attention-grabbing disclaimer so that unsuspecting parents won't pop it in, thinking that they'ew getting a more "family-friendly" "SuperFriends" installment.
"Batman: Under the Red Hood" is definitely not that.
As far as the extras go, the best of these is "Robin: The Story of Dick Grayson," a well-produced mini-documentary on the evolution of the character. The "Jonah Hex" short is notable for its inspired casting of Thomas Jane ("The Punisher" and "The Mist") as the deformed bounty hunter and Linda Hamilton as a sinister saloon ma'am.
As stated in the title, "Hood" loses a half star for its lack of a more noticeable "warning" to parents.
The death of Jason Todd, the second teenager to go by the superhero alias of Robin the Boy Wonder.
Where do I even START?
The infamous and unforgettable saga `A Death in the Family' still stands as one of the most controversial, iconic, and downright classic events, not just in Batman, but the whole of comics history. It was where the Joker had finally won, beating Robin almost to death and then blowing up what was left in a warehouse explosion, with the Caped Crusader failing to save him in time. And it was all voted for by the fans!
Then several years later...writer Judd Winick did something just as controversial, iconic and downright classic. He did the unthinkable, and resurrected Jason Todd as the notorious Red Hood, a Batman who KILLS. "Under the Hood' was a saga that proved to be just as popular, bestselling and divisive as its predecessor. Another milestone in the colourful tapestry of Batman's career.
Surely the notion of translating something of that magnitude into a feature-length animation would be a very difficult feat, yet Warner Bros. Animation have done just that with their latest direct-to-video OAV. Batman: Under the Red Hood adapts the whole dark, violent Jason Todd story into seventy-two minutes of blistering excitement and suspense that no Batman fan can afford to miss.
The plot is almost identical to the comics, with the film starting with Robin being tortured by the Joker and Batman ultimately failing to save him. Five years later, the enigmatic Red Hood arrives in Gotham City to wage his war on Black Mask, the crime lord who now has Gotham completely under his control. As Batman struggles to deal with the new menace and unearth the truth behind his identity, ghosts will return to torment the Dark Knight more than ever. And disturbing revelations regarding the Joker and Ra's Al Ghul will forever turn Batman's world upside down.
The whole controversial Jason Todd saga (both "A Death in the Family" and "Under the Hood") is something I truly consider classic. It added so many more tremendous layers to the Batman character and his universe, creating endless ramifications that have fuelled the success of both the comics and other adaptations. For all those fans who couldn't stand the Jason Todd character, the notion of killing Robin in the first place, or forever tarnishing the impact of Batman's greatest defeat...this movie is something I would heartily recommend to them as well.
Judd Winick was the ideal man to bring in for this, given his love for "A Death in the Family" and his sterling work on Jason Todd's revival. And he writes an absolutely excellent screenplay for this animation. He adapts the whole comic saga beautifully, choosing the best story elements and subtly reworking them for on-screen. I'd go so far as to say Winick actually improves upon the original comics, by retconning certain parts that I admit were too tongue-in-cheek and treading thin ice (i.e. touching upon the real-life US conflict with Iran, Joker becoming their ambassador etc).
One of the most ill-received things about Jason Todd's revival was the manner in which he came back, so that it tied in with the DC's Infinite Crisis crossover. Here, Winick rectifies that bloated, convoluted hash-job by making the explanation for Jason's return into a much more plausible and conceivable revelation. Plus, it also has far greater impact for Batman, which is what was sorely lacking in the original story.
Because the film doesn't have any connections to the comics continuity or even the original Animated Series, Under the Red Hood provides fans with an opportunity to enjoy the movie on its own merits, without having to compare it to anything else. It also allows the likes of Ra's Al Ghul, Commissioner Gordon and Nightwing to play much more of a significant role in the events then they did in the comics.
The feature itself...is another true gem from Warner Bros., everything from animation, to the music score, to the voice acting. With such high production values, Under the Red Hood is easily worthy of being in the same league as classics like Mask of the Phantasm and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. It's certainly the most violent animated Batman film, even more so than the Uncut Version of Return of the Joker, so parents be warned. It's REALLY not suitable for little kids.
The action sequences are gorgeous to look at, as are the conversational and confrontational moments. Christopher Drake's music adds such a delicious haunting mood to the proceedings and the cast is truly superb.
Neil Patrick Harris (Nightwing), Jason Isaacs (Ra's Al Ghul) and Wade Williams (Black Mask) are completely suitable for their roles, and make you wish they had more screen time. Alas, THE voices of Batman and the Joker - Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill - aren't present for this, which is a shame, as they TRULY are Batman and the Joker. But Bruce Greenwood is a worthy fill-in for the Dark Knight, getting the dark, brooding voice just right. John DiMaggio is downright creepy and sinister as the Joker, and although he doesn't quite capture the character's full essence, it soon grew on me.
It's Jensen Ackles, though, who outshines everyone else as the Red Hood/Jason Todd, breathing a murderous, sinister, mocking tone, laced with dry wit and the damaged heart of a human being. Everything that the Jason Todd character has become, which is so faithful and accurate.
There's some good extras, here, such as looks at other DC Animated films and a preview at Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. There's no alternate commentary, which is disappointing. Or any trailers or documentaries to do with the film itself, which I feel the DVD could've done with to complete the package. But in any event, Batman: Under the Red Hood is a terrific piece that not only adapts, but IMPROVES on the original comic. Even if you hated it, I would insist checking this film out.
on 5 February 2014
I think I've seen this film about 3 times now (which is very rare for me) and although I've never read any of the Batman 'A Death In The Family' comics this film is a wonderful DC gem and I would recommend any admirers of the caped crusader to pick it up. In fact I've watched this film with people who were originally put off by it ('It's Batman','It's a cartoon' etc) and were surprised with how much they liked it and how dark it was for an animation.
The story follows Batman a couple of years after Jason Todd's death (I would say this is a spoiler but it literally happens in the first 5 minutes and the comics been out since the 80's so...) and after the mysterious 'Red Hood' turns up in Gotham Batman has to figure out who this new new assassin/vigilante king pin is which leads to some brutal unearthings and rattles some of the skeletons in Batman's closet.
The voices of this film are an impressive all-star cast with the likes of Bruce Greenwood, Jason Isaacs, Neil Patrick Harris and Jensen Ackles (swoon). Everyone does a great job and you can tell the voice actors had fun recording. I know there was some controversy about John DiMaggio being the joker instead of Mark Hamill and Bruce Greenwood being the batman instead Kenvin Conroy but to be honest I thought they were great and if Hamill and Conroy ever decide to step down I'm sure these two will be there to pick up the mantel. Ackles does a great job at capturing the pissed off, post adolescent, dry witted Jason Todd and Neil Patrick Harris's cameo as Nightwing has just the right amount of humour to toughness ratio creating a great contrast to the stoic Batman and providing some comic relief to a rather heavy film.
This film is not without flaws. The story line at times is very predictable and considering Batman is the 'world's greatest detective' he does take some time working out the 'mystery' considering the audience has worked it out in half the time (albeit they have more information) which takes away from the suspense of the film a little. However the chase scenes are intense,the emotions of the characters sincere and it has some of the best Master-Mentor throwdowns fight scenes out there. The story adds layers to the complicated, tortured 'good guy' Batman and the film gives viewers a glimpse at a more devastating side of the Dark Knight while providing some interesting ideas about where to draw the line between heroes and criminals.
As for the quality of the movie I'm not sure if it was my TV and the aspect ratio I had it on but sometimes scenes seemed a bit blurry when panning and things like that. I'm fairly certain that' s a fault on my part but just to inform you just in case.
The brutality of the ending of this film leaves you feeling quite raw despite you knowing the inevitability of it. This films a guilty pleasure of mine and despite its flaws this is definitely my favourite Batman animated film (so far) and is a firm recommendation from me.
on 20 June 2012
The quality of Chris Nolan's `Batman' films could have you believing that there is no point delving the depths of the character as you have already seen the best. Fans of Frank Miller already know this is nonsense, but would even they bother with a direct to DVD feature length cartoon? Surely it would be more like Batman Babies than the hard hitting hero we know and love? `Batman: Under the Red Hood' dispels this myth; it is a cartoon that is almost as adult as the films and manages to explore the character in a different way.
In the world of `Red Hood', Batman is struggling to get to grips with the out of control crime in Gotham City. Haunted by the death of one of his earlier Robin assistants he is still unable to kill his enemies, therefore making himself fallible. Enter an antihero called the Red Hood. Here is someone who does not mind killing and if executing a few hundred criminals is what is needed to clean up the city, so be it. Will Batman be able to talk Red Hood to the light side, or is he just another psychopath that needs putting down?
Exploring some pretty mature themes, the cartoon is still suitable for younger audiences as it is also full of action (but not the very young). Joker is present and is as disturbed as Heath Ledger's take on the super villain. Like with many direct to DVD cartoons the animation cannot quite live up to the ambition of the writers. The quality is slightly higher than the Saturday morning cartoon of Batman, but not what you would get from a cinema based film. With the animation being slightly flawed the film does lose a little of its shine. However, this is still one of the better cartoon animations of recent years.
on 28 April 2012
'Under the Red Hood' begins with the gigantically momentous occasion where upon the second Robin (Jason Todd) is killed off. It's quite a surprising scene to start off with but not totally unexpected as Joker (John DiMaggio) happily smashes Robin with a crowbar. It's also a slightly moving scene to start the movie off on, however this is the landmark for what shall be an amazing achievement of a film. We soon come back to present-day Gotham where a mysterious figure called 'The Red Hood' has come onto the scene and is taking control of the drug trade much to the frustration of 'Black Mask' (Wade Williams) and soon Black Mask wants Red Hood dead and Batman's trying to find out who the mysterious Red Hood is... with the odd help from Nightwing (Neil Harris)
What really needs to be commended about this film is the voice acting. You don't have Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne/Batman and you don't have Mark Hamill as Joker (you shall be missed) but I felt that Bruce Greenwood really pulled it off as Batman and at parts I could've believed it was Kevin voicing Batman. John DiMaggio also does a great job on Joker which is surprising dues to Mark Hamill glaring down upon him but DiMaggio really pulls it off and I personally think his voice perfectly matched Joker for the feel of this movie. The scenes whether they be a chase, fight or even flashbacks are all superbly done and the flashbacks are more like Bruce is seeing ghosts of the past and is really well done. The story is superb and I actually want to watch it again! You kind of see some of the things coming but the Red Hoods plan I didn't see coming until he said it. However Joker, Black Mask and Red Hood are not the only villains for we also get some scenes with Ra's al Ghul which are very relevant and move the story to a point of understanding how the characters got to where they are.
My favorite scene is definitely the final scene in the old house... if you've watched it you know where I mean. The lines used here really do cast a shadow upon the Batman and Joker's "relationship". The Joker has killed hundreds if not thousands on his endless rampages which only repeat themselves when Joker finds a way to get out from Arkham and every time Batman stops him... why doesn't he just kill Joker? It shines a light on where Batman draws the line between good and evil, desecration or justice and it is all done perfectly and flawlessly. Another scene to note is when their in the chemical lab where Joker was made and there's that flashback. It's short but I loved it.
This movie is not something you want to show to kids. It has the same kind of animated feeling as the Animated Series did but it includes blood and is quite violent. (Red Hood throws a bag of severed heads at a group of people.) This is more a movie for older teens and adults because it really does what it does well! I have no gripes with this film at all. I thought the voice acting was great and fitted the mood and the viewing was a joy.
Just one last thing... the very last scene... that very, very last scene with Robin and Batman? I almost cried at that bit.