Sunday, August 22, 2010

Batman: Under the Red Hood review

As someone who read the comics that this movie is based on, I expected a great film and was not disappointed. Judd Winick is great at getting into the character’s heads and writing character-driven stories. Of course we all know the basic premise – Joker kills the second Robin, Jason Todd, and when he’s resurrected, he goes after Batman and The Joker. The execution of the original story was well done.

I’m not a big fan of the DC Universe animated films. Having been a huge Batman: The Animated Series, Superman, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited fan, I am used to the voice of Batman, Superman, etc, so when you hire a bunch of different actors every film to voice familiar characters it’s distracting. The story was good enough to get past the need to hear Kevin Conroy’s voice coming out of Batman’s mouth. Even though they aren’t the original voices, Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles, John Di Maggio, Neil Patrick Harris, and Jason Isaacs fill in just nicely.
I liked the flashbacks with Batman and Jason Todd’s Robin in happier times fighting crime, showing how they met, and showing Jason’s developing temper. This was probably the most intense DCU animated project I’ve seen and it didn’t pull punches when it came to things like Joker almost beating Jason to death with a crowbar.

Watch this film – but not with little kids. Yeah – it’s that intense.

This disk also has great features.

It has a Jonah Hex animated short based on a story from the comic series. It features the voices of Thomas Jane (as Jonah Hex), Linda Hamilton, Michael Rooker, and Michelle Trachtenberg. It’s a fun, fast story with great action (but features a scene with a prostitute about to have sex so watch it before you show it to the kids).

There’s a preview of Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. This is the animated project based on the introduction of Supergirl in the Superman/Batman comic book series. It reunites original voices, Kevin Conroy (Batman), Tim Daly (Superman), and Susan Eisenberg (Wonder Woman) with Summer Glau voicing Supergirl. It looks fantastic and as close as I’ll get to a Justice League voice cast reunion.

There are also 4 Batman: The Animated Series episodes as a bonus. In watching these episodes, was really struck me is that, even though the show is 15+ years old, each episode had a great story that was character driven and looked like a movie. It was a ground-breaking show and became the style that DC used on a lot of the cartoons that followed: Superman, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Teen Titans, and Legion of Super-Heroes.

So my verdict is this is a film worth having on your DVD/Blu Ray shelf.

Essential books to go with this movie:

Batman #408 – the introduction of Jason Todd.
Batman: A Death in the Family (reprints Batman #426-429) – Jason Todd goes to Ethiopia in search of his long-lost mother. The Joker lures him into a trap and is beaten half to death by the ker. Batman rushes to save him but Jason and his mother are killed in the exploding warehouse. Batman carrying Jason’s body from the warehouse is one of the most iconic moments in DC’s history.
Batman: Under the Red Hood Volume 1 (reprints Batman #635 - #641) - Batman vs Jason Todd with flashbacks galore.
Batman: Under the Red Hood Volume 2 (reprints Batman #645-650 and Batman Annual #25) – Jason’s resurrection at the hands of Ras’ al Ghul revealed and Jason's desire for revenge drives him to kidnap the Joker and force Batman to decide: kill Joker, or let Jason kill Joker.