Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Comic Movie Review–Batman: Under the Red Hood

I first read the story of Jason Todd (the 2nd Robin) years ago.  I found a Batman issue at my local pharmacy in the small town I grew up in.  On it, depicted the bloody face of the Boy Wonder with apparent rubble behind his head.  I knew that issue had to be a monumental issue given the name “A Death in the Family”.  What happened there rocked the comic world.
Fast forward about 15-20 years later and DC decided to unleash a story about someone named the Red Hood.  The first time it ended with a red herring. Then they did a second story about the Red Hood and it turned into what people had wanted from the first go at it.  Now DC is bringing that story and part of the Death in the Family story to life in an all new animated movie on DVD and Blu-Ray.
So what did I think of the new movie based on these events?
Well, the story is simply about Batman trying to find out who the Red Hood is and then, ultimately, stop him.  The Red Hood styles himself a good guy who is willing to go to extremes to get the job done, including bankrolling himself through criminals and collecting from them.  He’s like the mafia of the mafia, but just one man.  The Red Hood also tries to draw the attention of Batman and the reasons (if you haven’t read the comics) is going to surprise you.
This is the epitome of a great story brought to life via animation.  This story would never have gotten told in live action, but here we see everything take form.  The animation style is excellent and it helps you forget that you’re watching animation at times.  The voice acting isn’t bad at all, some if down right excellent.  Bruce Greenwood does his usual spot-on Dark Knight approach.  Jensen Ackles does an effective Red Hood.  My favorite though is Neil Patrick Harris as Nightwing.  So the voice acting is very good here.
The story is very closely told to the comics with some minor modifications.  The time of year and place that Robin died at was different and the way he was brought back was altered.  But the changes made sense and made it more effective for the format it was presented in.  In fact, condensing the story down to make it accessible really brought home some key points.
Some of my favorite scenes are the flashback sequences.  The way those were done were amazing.  And the final one was something a good movie can only hope to have as it’s final “lump-in-the-throat” moment.  But there were plenty of other things that made this great.
The sheer brutality of this makes this movie not for young kids.  Probably more like teens on up.  It is very grim and dark in most of the tone. 
What we had was a lot of storytelling and plenty of action to keep you entertained as well.  The story had a lot of exciting fight scenes that were also well done and the animation very smooth.  Judd Winick wrote this and did an excellent job of lovingly taking the material and transferring it to a different medium.  So hats off to DC and everyone involved.
A five star excellent adaptation.  A must for any comic book fan!  One of the best animated films I’ve seen yet and I hope for more just like this!


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