[Movie Review] Batman: Under The Red Hood

First of all, I’m a comic fan from back in the golden age of comics. No, I don’t mean the 50’s and 60’s. I’m talking about the 90’s, the span of time in which comics really grew into their own and started becoming a mainstream and respected medium. A time when Marvel and DC started taking chances with their golden characters, and upstart companies like Dark Horse and Image, independent publishers both, gave the big two runs for their money by publishing books that were risky, adult and contemporary.

Since that time, Marvel and DC grew up drastically, telling stories like The Death of Superman and The Age of Apocalypse, where beloved characters, staples of the their respective universes died, tragically and heartbreakingly.

Even though I was always a marvel fanboy (DC characters were too flawless, too perfect), around that same time, Tim Burton directed the legendary Batman movie, starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. This led to Batman: The Animated Series, a series, though produced certainly for children, had very adult themes, artwork and sensibilities. From this point, DC seemed to take a great deal of pride in its animated works, producing the amazing Adventures of Superman, The Adventures of Batman and Robin, Justice League and Justice League: Unlimited. That tradition is continued in DC’s latest feature-length animated batman movie, Batman: Under the Red Hood.

Sadly, I don’t read comics anymore, save for a few that I manage to pick up here and there, so supposedly Under The Red Hood is based on a Batman story arch where a new gangland player, The Red Hood, begins killing off Gotham’s underground, taking territories and drug trades for his own, eventually setting his sights on Gotham’s biggest crime lord, The Black Mask, dragging Batman, Nightwing, and The Joker into the middle, only to realize that The Red Hood just may have ties to Batman’s past, and his biggest failure ever.

In the past Batman animated movies, they maintained the art style and vocal cast from The Animated Series with Bruce Tim and Mark Hamill (yes, Luke Skywalker) doing the voices of Batman and The Joker, respectively. This time out they have ditched the old art style for something a tad less stylized and recast the voices from the ground up with Bruce Greenwood as Batman, Jensen Ackles from Supernatural playing The Red Hood, and NPH himself, Neil Patrick Harris, as Nightwing.

The movie itself is very adult, full of blood and violence, reflecting the last two Batman films, realistic and gritty. I think this makes for a more enjoyable Batman, based on what the comic book itself reflects; something unpleasant, but true, that is if a man were to dress up like a bat and fight the criminal underground. No Anti-Shark Bat Spray in this one, just good ole’ fashioned action, intrigue and emotion.

This movie is Batman at his core, dealing with his flaws, insecurities and fears, facing the things that define Batman, and the things that destroy the lives of those around him and the people that he takes under his wing.

So I guess what I’m saying here is that, hell, I really loved this flick. It’s adult, action packed, well animated and performed, with themes that question the motives of the characters that it explores. If you are a fan of Batman, pick it up, rent it, borrow it from a friend, I don’t really care how, just see Batman: Under the Red Hood!

Score: 8.0/10 (Great)

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