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Batman: Under the Red Hood (Review)

Batman: Under the Red Hood (Review)

Back in black…
Sep 7, 2010
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Batman: Under the Red Hood
Genre: Animation, Action, Crime Release Date: Out now on DVD Runtime: 75 minutes Country: USA


Director:  Brandon Vietti Writer(s): 
Judd Winick

Cast: , Jason Isaacs, Jensen Ackles, John Di Maggio, Neil Patrick Harris, Wade Williams
Batman: Under the Red Hood (Review), reviewed by Alex Lindsey Jones on 2010-09-07T00:25:52+00:00 rating 4.5 out of5

After decades of mistreatment, The Dark Knight Detective is finally getting his due.

Over the years the fans have been subjected to the campy and satirical 60’s TV series starring Adam West , Tim Burton’s uneven and pseudo psychological blockbusters and, worst of all, Joel Schumacher’s god-awful cheese-fests such as Batman and Robin, one of the worst reviewed films of all time.

While most of the credit for Batman’s reinvention and resurgence in popular culture has to be given to visionary director Christopher Nolan (after all, The Dark Knight grossed over 1 billion dollars), one must not forget the numerous excellent Batman animated series and direct-to-DVD features that have been running since the early 90’s that have always been respectful to the source material.

The latest offering from the newly established DC Universe brand is Batman: Under the Red Hood, an adaptation of two popular comic storylines “A Death in the Family” and “Under the Hood”.

Under the Red Hood opens in Bosnia, with Batman feverishly racing towards a secret location where the Joker is holding Jason Todd (the second Robin) hostage. Meanwhile we cut to the Joker gleefully inflicting a brutal beating on Jason with a crow bar and beating him within an inch of his life. Unfortunately, Batman is too late and arrives just as the abandoned warehouse Robin is being held captive in is blown to pieces.

Proving once again that animated doesn’t necessarily equal kid-friendly and watered down, this opening sequence is not only disturbing and ultra violent but also instantly puts the viewer on the edge of their seat, setting the tone for the darkest animated Batman endeavor yet.

After the opening credits, we skip to five years later where Batman is still dealing with the guilt of his “second greatest failure” (the first being The Joker) and facing a new kind of threat in Gotham.

A new vigilante has emerged calling himself the Red Hood (the original moniker of The Joker) and he’s cleaning up Gotham’s Streets. Except unlike Batman he has no code and doesn’t mind killing to get the job done.

As Batman sets out to investigate, he gets a little help from Nightwing (Dick Grayson, the original Robin all grown up) and that’s where things get interesting. To reveal anymore would be unfair.

As usual with the DCU animated features films, the voice cast is exceptional but in a somewhat controversial move both of the biggest voices in Batman animation are missing. Kevin Conroy who voiced Batman/Bruce Wayne in Batman the Animated Series, Batman Beyond and the majority of the animated features has been replaced by Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek, Mao’s Last Dancer).  While some fan-boys will have a hard time admitting this, Bruce Greenwood does an amazing job. Greenwood infuses the character with an emotional depth not always seen and for the record his Batman voice is on par with Conroy’s if not better.

Also absent is Mark Hamill (yes Luke Skywalker himself), whose name is synonymous with the animated version of The Joker. Instead we have John DiMaggio (best known as Bender from Futurama) on voice duties for the Clown Prince of Crime. While he may not necessarily have the energy of his predecessor, DiMaggio’s interpretation is a riff on the iconic portrayal immortalized by the late Heath Ledger and it certainly fits well with the darker tone of the film.

DiMaggio’s work isn’t the only nod to The Dark Knight either, as observant fans will also notice various set pieces that pay tribute to that film.

Parents should be warned that this film is probably not suitable for most younger viewers and the M rating should be taken seriously.


Under the Red Hood continues the dark and intense vibe of Nolan’s Bat flicks and ends up feeling almost ground breaking. Looks like the world’s number one Superhero is finally in safe hands.

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