When I first heard of this films creation I was a little concerned and baffled with their choice of storyline to adapt. I felt that this storyline had so much history to cover from Jason Todd’s demise in A Death in the Family as well as push on with the extensive Under The Hood storyline. To get that all done in a seventy minute movie I thought would be too much to achieve and when looking back over the previous films produced by the studio, there have been a few mistakes made. The biggest trap was that viewers with no knowledge of Jason Todd or his destiny would either get confused or not care about the character. However they have really outdone themselves with this film, which has easily surpassed my previous favorite which was Crisis on Two Earths.
I was pleased with how easy the story was to follow, even for newbie’s. It’s a complex narrative to guide an audience through but I felt that the memories and flashbacks were delivered smoothly throughout the movie enhancing the characters choices in the present. The story was engaging from the start with a great mix of emotion and action. I’m often bored of action that goes on too long without any emotional stakes for the characters battling it out, which can happen many times in superhero movies. Pointless action for the sake of a cool fighting move doesn’t do much for me, I need to be invested in the characters and care about what they are fighting for. This film reached those goals. It had excellent fighting sequences and I cared about the Red Hood and Batman’s confrontations.
This film is easily the darkest one made so far and is fitting for this character and genre. They are hopefully aware that a lot of their audience are mature viewers and want to see a little more violence than you see on TV. The fight scenes are brutal and even some of the character moments, especially towards the climax are mature and developed well.
The cast does an excellent job with DiMaggio in particular standing out for me. His Joker had an interesting blend of the eccentric Mark Hamill and the intense, calmer Heath Ledger. He was really menacing and we knew this was a very dangerous Joker especially from his first scene, where the character bluntly murders a young man. Bruce Greenwood’s batman seemed to have similarities to Kevin Conroy but lacked that cutting edge. He wasn’t outstanding but a fine portrayal. Ackles was another good performer with a challenging character to portray but Jason came across as a sympathetic character with strong motivations and someone I cared about. Even the peripheral characters were compelling such as Nightwing and Ra’s Al Ghul. Andrea Romano has done another fabulous job of voice directing. The characters all interacted well together and one scene towards the climax with Batman, Joker and Jason is a fantastic piece of mature storytelling with strong characters performed expertly.
I credit WB animation for taking a risk with this movie and even though I was doubtful at first I’m sure they are very happy with how it has turned out, I certainly am. The animation was excellent yet again and has raised the bar of what I expect from these caliber of films. The soundtrack was OK, not outstanding and I feel an opportunity was missed in that department.
In conclusion, early reactions are that the film has gone down very well amongst the fans and I’m certainly in that group. It’s an outstanding achievement with such a challenging story containing new, exciting voice over talent, a different story structure and a maturity I hope to see in future animated movies from the studio. With Batman: Year One now confirmed as an upcoming animated movie, with what I’m sure will be a ridiculous expectation, this film has served as proof that the team can work with a challenging story and deliver a worthy movie for the fans. If they thought Under The Hood was a tough one wait until they deal with the holy Batman: Year One. Good luck and thanks again to the team behind the animated movies for another entertaining Batman installment.
Batman: Under the Red Hood:
Reviewed by Nick