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Monday, August 02, 2010

Movie Review -- Batman: Under the Red Hood

Does it seem somewhat biased that I review direct-to-video movies in blog entries, and not in big-fancy, coded-in-HTML-from-scratch webpages that I do over at my main site for theatrical films?  Just wondering.

Anyway, longtime followers of the blog know I've been a big fan of all the DC Comics DTV animated films that have been coming for a couple of years now.  The latest one came out this past week, and I made a special trip into Edmonton just to pick it up.  It's time to take a look at....

Batman: Under the Red Hood

Directed by Brandon Vietti

Starring the voices of Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles, John DiMaggio, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Isaacs, Wade Williams, Gary Cole, and Kelly Hu.

Just a little warning, I'm going to get somewhat spoileriffic in this review, but if  you've been following the Batman comics for the past five years or so, it's nothing you don't know already.

Backstory:  So, a few years back, they ran a storyline in the Batman comics called Under the Hood, which resurrected Jason Todd from the dead.  Jason Todd, for those uninitiated, is the Robin that was infamously killed off back in the 1980s.  As many a comic book critic said at the time, with the revolving door to the afterworld that exists in comics, it's amazing it took this long to resurrect him.  Anyway, the folks in charge of these animated DTV movies thought it would make a good one, so here it is.  Fun trivia fact:  this is Jason Todd's first appearance in a Batman adaptation!

Plot:  Five years after Jason Todd was brutally murdered at the hands of the Joker, a new masked vigilante calling himself the Red Hood makes his appearance known in Gotham City.  He's muscling in on the drug lords, taking control of Gotham's underworld, angering Gotham's current drug kingpin, the Black Mask.  Of course, this soon catches Batman's attention, and the Black Mask gets desperate enough to go the Joker for help.  Batman soon uncovers that the Red Hood is Jason Todd.  How is he back from the dead?  What is his master plan?  And can Batman bring him back from this dark path he's taken?  

What I Liked:  As always, I love how Warner Brothers is bringing in  A-list talent to do the voices.  When I first heard that Bruce Greenwood would be voicing Batman (Capt. Pike in the last Star Trek film), I thought, "Dude, that's perfect!"  He does have the right gravely growl.  Neil Patrick Harris is also very funny as Nightwing.  The animation, as always, is perfect.  And the mystery really isn't much of a mystery, but it's good enough to keep you guessing.

What I Didn't Like:  I have the same problem with this that I had with the last Batman-centred DTV film, Gotham Knight.  When it comes to these Batman animated tales, there really is a whole "been there, done that" feeling starting to hang over the entire proceedings.  As a friend of mine once commented about Batman, "How many times do we need to see the pearls in slow motion?"  

Final Verdict:  It's a fairly entertaining Batman yarn, but come on DC.  Give us the Flash.  Give us another Wonder Woman.  Give Batman a break.  

3 Nibs

Bonus Features:  Ooo, this was my first DC DTV animated film on Blu-Ray!  For bonus features, you get a featurette on this history of the first Robin, Dick Grayson, a featurette on the history of the second Robin, Jason Todd, a preview of the next film, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, 4 bonus episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, and the latest in their series of DC Showcase animated shorts, this one focusing on Jonah Hex.  I'll review that short...in my next blog entry! 

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