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Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Solid Peak Under the Red Hood


Batman - Under the Red Hood: 4 out of 5 Stars
Red Hood: Just be happy I only killed one of them. They're all assassins!
Batman: And what are you?
Red Hood: I'm cleaning up Gotham. More than you ever did.
I had to weigh my Batman fandom against the idea of not having the iconic voices of Batman and the Joker present before watching this film. I am glad to say that it was worth it. This feature brings in a popular story arc involving the Red Hood as well as the infamous moment from "A Death in the Family," in order to put together a tale that is quite dark and fitting in the realm of Batman's animated universe.

Following a dark opening sequence showing the Joker's murder of the Jason Todd Robin, we cut to years later with a new threat present. Batman faces his ultimate challenge, as the mysterious Red Hood takes Gotham City by firestorm. Part vigilante and part criminal kingpin, the Red Hood begins cleaning up Gotham with the efficiency of Batman, but without following the same ethical code. Killing is an option for the Red Hood. As Batman, with some help from Nightwing, chase down this new opponent, it may become more clear that Batman and the Red Hood share some old history together.

Again, I was initially put off by not having Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil present to voice Batman and the Joker, but I eventually came around to these differences, and embraced all the positives on display. The animation is solid. While somewhat lacking in art direction that is as distinct as the classic Batman: The Animated Series, it still manages to deliver on looking nice enough. That can certainly be said about the action, which occurs frequently and features a lot of cool moments.

The most intriguing element is how dark this feature is. While PG-13 by animation standards, the heavy amounts of beatings, blood, and some brutal violence would be enough to make this an R-rated feature were it to have been live action. I admired the route this film took to show us a more brutal version of a Batman story, as Batman must deal with a threat that wont hold off on murder, as well as the rampaging actions of the Joker.

Overall, this is another solid animated feature taking place in the realm Batman's world. A lot of solid action and brutality makes up for some of the changes away from our standard viewings of the character.

Note: The Blu-Ray also features an animated short for Jonah Hex, and I can safely say that this 10 minute feature is better than anything in the terrible live action movie version.
Nightwing: No what I miss about running with you? The toys.

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