Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010) – Review

3 1/2 Stars


Recently I reviewed the new release Batman: Year One and praised its handsome animation techniques and efficient adult level storytelling, in short I proclaimed it the best feature to ever come out of the DC Comics studio. My colleague Trevor Anderson urged me to take a look at Batman: Under the Red Hood before I made such a bold proclamation. So I did and he was correct in the recommendation. If Year One played in the similar territory established by the Nolan directed Batman films, than Under the Red Hood is inspired by the darkness of Burton’s take on the character and the wall to wall action and abundance of villains from the Schumacher chapters.

UTRH establishes itself as a serious affair in a rather brutal opening sequence showcasing the death of Jason Todd (the 2nd Robin) at the hands of the Joker. After that the story jumps five years in the future to present day in which Batman seems slightly overwhelmed at the constant need to save Gotham from a rogues’ gallery of villains.

Turns out Gotham has a new vigilante terrorizing the crime bosses running the city. He goes by the name Red Hood and unlike the Dark Knight he is forcing the criminals to cut him in on a percentage of the profits from their trade. There is action and violence throughout to serve as a reminder that these animated features are cartoons in name only. It is a sumptuously drawn movie in the style made prominent by Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, however UTRH is a far more adult tale based on a seminal era in the comic book series.

It does get carried away, as most animated films do, in over the top and extended battle sequences. A little of that goes a long way, particularly when gravity and live action movie magic isn’t applicable. Appearances by Ra’s al Ghul, NightWing, Black Mask, Riddler and the Joker are treats for longtime fans of the venerable DC Comics characters.

A pulsating score by Christopher Drake is amongst the movie’s greatest assets. It’s worthy of a big screen feature film, producer Bruce Timm is lucky to have been able to use it here. Bottom line is UTRH has a phenomenal voice cast featuring Bruce Greenwood as Batman, Neil Patrick Harris as Nightwing and Smallville‘s Jensen Ackles as Red Hood, and the script is based on a bestselling series.

Director: Brandon Vietti
Stars: Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles, John Di Maggio

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