Film Review – Batman: Under the Red Hood

DC is continuing with it’s series of animated movies, This one is a retelling of Batman: Under the Hood storyline running through Batman comics, written by Judd Winick. It also includes elements from The Killing Joke and Death in the Family.

When i was offered the chance to review this movie for Geek Syndicate i jumped at it! I love all of the animated movies DC and Warner Bros have put out over the last few years and this happens to be one of my favourite Batman Stories. so this was a match made in Heaven. With Bruce Timm on as a Producer this film really couldn’t go wrong!

THE STORY:
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.

**Spoilers this is a pretty much full blow by blow so avoid this if you haven’t seen it**

The Film opens with a brutal portrayal of the events of “Death in the Family” Where The Joker Beats Jason Todd (the second Robin) to Death with a crowbar. We See Batman rushing to save the Boy wonder but ultimately is too late.

Jump forward a few years and discover that a new player has entered the Gotham Crime stage. This new Crime Lord has taken on the mantle of The Red Hood, a name used by many others over the years including the man that becomes the Joker. The Red Hood tells the crime bosses currently working for The Black Mask that they now work for him and he will protect them from Batman and the Black Mask as long as they don’t sell drugs to kids.

We cut to Batman chasing down a hijacked truck. He apprehends the drivers and starts his interrogation. At this Point Nightwing (Dick Grayson, The First Robin) shows up to speak to batman but they are interrupted when the trucks cargo gets up and starts attacking.

The truck was carrying a Android that mimics Superpowers including Superstrength, laser vision and flight. Batman and Nightwing work together to bring down the mechanical monster and then go back to the interrogation. Just as they are about to get some valuable Intel their witnesses are shot buy a sniper. Batman jumps in the Bat wing and chases after the Assassin and learns that it’s The Red hood.

The Chase ends up at a Chemical Plant which we learn through a flash back is the same location where Batman fought The Red Hood (Joker) during The Killing Joke story line. We see the origin of the Joker as he trips and falls in to a vat of chemicals. The New Red Hood Teases batman about this being the location of his first big mistake but not his last mistake. The Red Hood makes his gataway by Blowing up the Plant.

Back in the batcave Batman and Nightwing discuss the New Red Hood. They believe he may be connected to the Joker. To they travel to Arkham to speak to the Clown Prince of Crime. At Arkham the Joker makes jokes and makes fun of Batman and Nightwing but says he has nothing to do with the Red Hood.

In Black Masks office we learn that he is out for blood and wants The Red Hood killed as soon as possible.

The Red Hood continues to steal from Black Mask by hijacking a helicopter, Batman and Nightwing stop him but he escapes across the roof tops. The Duo chase the Criminal all the way to a train station where the Red Hood uses Explosives to make good his escape. Batman had filmed the chase using his gadgets

Once again back in the batcave, the Great Detective uses his Batcomputer to isolate The Red Hoods voice. He learns that this new Hood knows his true identity. He suspects that This new Red Hood might be his Former Sidekick Jason Todd.

We see a flashback of Batman and Robin foiling a heist buy the Riddler . where Robin displays the same prowess as the Red Hood. Then we see Robin a bit older now brutally beating a unarmed crook, this causes tension between him and the Batman.

The Black Mask now takes the fight to the Red Hood by attacking his businesses causing the him to come to their defense. This is when a team of assassins attack the Hood but are defeated when Batman shows up. Him and the Red Hood work together to defeat them and the Red Hood callously takes the Life of one of them.

After collecting some Blood from the scene of the Assasin fight Batman discovers that The Red Hood is in fact Jason Todd. We learn that Ra’s al Gul used the lasarus pit to bring Jason back from the dead as he was the one that hired the joker to attack the the Dynamic Duo. Jason came back from the dead but he came back Broken.

The Black mask is no desperate and turns to the Joker for help! The joker agrees but soon double crosses the black mask when he captures him and all of the red hoods men and tries to set them all on fire.  The Red Hood interrupts the Joker and explains that everything he had done was to draw the joker out so he could kill him for what he had done.

Batman turns up and saves the joker from his fate, the Red Hood quickly recaptures The Joker and arranges to meet Batman to settle this once and for all. Batman and the Hood fight it out on the roof tops of Gotham. Jason explains he is doing what needs to be done to bring order to Gotham. This fight leads the pair to where Jason has the Joker tied up and after a brutal fight Jason gives bruce a choice. He can kill him or he’ll kill the Joker.

Batman manages to find away to save them both. Jason then sets off a bomb and Batman races to save the Joker and Jason. After the explosion there is no sign of Jason.

**End of Spoilers**

The Good Stuff!

This is a perfect example of how DC and Marvel should do animated versions of their classic story lines. DC really doesn’t hold back anything. It is Brutal from start to finish. The opening scene alone will stay with you for days after watching this. This Movie does not dumb down so it can have a wide audience,

It tells the story in the way a tragic story like this needs to be told without being too graphic. The Scene with Joker and Black Mask’s men is excellent and nearly surpasses the Pencil Trick from the Dark Knight.

The Voice acting is excellent, Bruce Greenwood does a great job as a more mature fatherly Batman. John Di Maggio manages to create a Joker that is somewhere in the middle of Mark Hamills version and Heath Ledger’s movie version. The Rest of the cast do their jobs excellently with special mention to Neil Patrick Harris who voices Nightwing, i first thought that he wasn’t right for the role but he proved me wrong by playing Nightwing as a less serious Batman which is perfect for the character.

The Animation style was a great, you could tell who was who and you never lost focus on the action. There are lots of little easter eggs along the way that will only be picked up by comics readers. Which made this film extra special to watch.

The use of Flashbacks and “Ghosts” to tell the back story was a excellent choice. They gave you all the information you needed without leaving you felling like you were missing something.

The Bad Stuff

Honestly my only big problem with this film was that during the Car chase scene and some other smaller scenes they used CGI to animate them, this totally took me out of the movie as it was a jarring difference to the rest of the film. I don’t know if this was done to save time or what but it was a poor choice in my opinion.

One small issue i had with the film is the total lack of Tim Drake who was the Robin working with batman in the original story. I do understand that they only have 80 mins to fit the story in but it would have been nice to have a mention of him somewhere. Even if it was a explanation of his absence

Conclusion

This one 4 stars out of 5, DC and Warner Bros continue to knock these movies out at a good pace without sacrificing much quality. This is by far my favourite animated film they have produced since Mask of the Phantasm!

GS Reporter: Matt

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