Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)

under-the-red-hood

Director: Brandon Vietti

Cast: Bruce Greenwood, Neill Patrick Harris, John DiMaggio

Review Author: Shaun

Next in our DC animated series we will jump to 2010s FUCKING SCROOGE MCDUCK its Batman: Under the Red Hood. Not going to keep anything thing back here, I love this movie, Sweet Christmas it’s probably the best one out DC animated studios; its Dark Knight levels of good. If you haven’t seen this then stop what you’re doing right now and go watch it. Then comeback and read my review to see if you agree. The feature takes its story from two of Batman’s iconic story lines “Death in the family” & “The Red Hood returns” and fits it fantastically together with probably the best DC story adapted today.

Written by Judd Winick (who funnily enough wrote the story in the comic), it opens with that infamous incident of Batman’s past, foreshadowing events to come. We jump to present day Gotham, in which a new mysterious figure has appeared on the criminal scene, calling himself The Red Hood. It seems as though he’s started a turf war with Black Mask for control of Gotham’s drug empire. This tactic has an air of mystery about it we don’t know if he’s trying to rule the criminals, or wipe them out? It doesn’t matter much to Batman who has teamed up with this old sidekick, now known as Nightwing to investigate this new, formidable player in Gotham’s underworld.

I won’t spoil the major plot points. I’ll just say that most of them won’t come as much of a shock to anyone paying attention. Fortunately, that predictability doesn’t matter much in the end at all. What’s interesting about Red Hood isn’t the revelations, but how the characters handle them. The Red Hood takes Batman’s own concept of vigilante justice and pushes it even further toward the line between good and evil. His goals of ridding the streets of criminal filth aren’t all that different from Batman’s, and just like the Dark Knight, he operates outside the law. Compared to the other villains who appear in the film, The Red Hood is only slightly less crazy, but his twisted logic does make a kind of sense. He asks Batman the tough questions, forcing him to ask them of himself.

The art is striking and distinctive, from the sharp angles of Batman’s form to a meaty, menacing Joker, to the atmosphere of the city, with its dark warehouses and classic high rises. Director Brandon Vietti is just as competent handling the big chase scenes as he is with the dramatic confrontations. The way the flashbacks are handled is also interesting, with Batman ghosting in and out as he remembers the events of the past. The look is impressive, overall.

While it would be nice to see Warner Bros. and DC deviating a little and telling stories involving someone other than Batman and Superman, this is an interesting look into what makes the Bat tick, pointing out that even someone who lives in the grey area of moral ambiguity has to draw the line somewhere, this is always great to see after the backlash coming from Zack Snyder’s image of his Batman (i.e. Batman doesn’t kill Snyder!). Fans of the character and the comic won’t be disappointed.

The strengths of this move (like most of the DC animated features) lies in its voice acting with all man cast giving strong performances especially in the films climatic apartment scene. These fifteen minutes is probably the best animated story-telling in any of the DC films, without spoiling anything it’s simply mind-blowing. The depth and the character relationships are built up from the start for this ultimate showdown. This scene is the main reason I would love to see a live action take of this especially with WB and DC laying the groundwork for story line in Batman V Superman earlier this year.

Saying that my main flaw of the feature comes from Neil Patrick Harris ‘s performance as Nightwing, his approach to the character brought me out of the movie and at times I thought I was watching an episode of ‘How I met your mother’ rather than a Batman feature. He has provided his voice to other animated projects which works fine, just in this case I don’t believe he was the right choice and would have preferred another actor (luckily he’s not a major part of the film).

Overall this film hits on all cylinders and is a milestone for animated story telling. This is a must watch for any superhero fan and it’s a strong blue print for a live action version HINT! HINT! Affleck & Johns.

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