Superhero Movie Month: "Batman: Under the Red Hood" Review

Photo Credit: Warner Home Video

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Rating: PG-13
Length: 75 minutes
Release Date: July 27, 2010
Directed by: Brandon Vietti
Genre: Animation / Action / Crime

"Batman: Under the Red Hood" is the eighth installment of the popular DC Universe Animated Original Movies line. This film follows Batman as he tracks down Gotham City's newest villain. Once he learns the true identity of the villain, Batman is given the opportunity to end the Joker once and for all.

"Batman: Under the Red Hood" opens with Jason Todd, the second Robin, being captured and beaten by the Joker. Although Batman races to save Jason, the building he is held in explodes, killing him. Five years later in Gotham City, Batman apprehends two men driving a stolen truck carrying an Amazo, an android weapon. The men tell Batman that they have been hired by a masked criminal named Red Hood.

Determined to find out more about this new criminal, Batman enlists the help of Nightwing. The two heroes soon realize that crime has escalated in Gotham City in recent months. Unbeknownst to Batman, Red Hood has contracted with the city's major drug lords to offer protection from Batman. Not knowing who Red Hood is, Batman tracks down the Joker to interrogate him. However, the Joker merely taunts Batman over the death of Jason.

Meanwhile, another villain, Black Mask, has sent the Fearsome Hand of Four, a deadly group of assassins, to kill Red Hood. When the villains attack Red Hood, Batman arrives and saves Red Hood's life. After taking a sample of the blood from the fight scene, Batman learns that Red Hood is actually Jason. It turns out, Jason was revived after the explosion, but chemicals nearby changed his personality and made him intent on exacting revenge on the Joker. When Batman finds Red Hood, he is forced to choose between killing the Joker and being killed by Red Hood.

The characters of "Batman: Under the Red Hood" are brought to life by the voices of several veteran actors. Bruce Wayne returns to once again voice the character of Batman. John DiMaggio gives the Joker a chilling voice that matches his actions in the film. Two actors voice the character of Jason, which makes the character's transformation more realistic. Vincent Martella provides the voice of Jason in the opening scenes, and Jensen Ackles voices the character after he becomes Red Hood.

"Batman: Under the Red Hood" has several familiar characters, such as the Joker, Nightwing and Ra's al Ghul, but there are also a few new villains that liven up the plot. Black Mask is featured throughout the film and his involvement with the Fearsome Hand of Four ultimately causes Batman to find out Red Hood's true identity. The revelation that Red Hood is actually Jason Todd is completely unexpected. This plot twist also makes Batman contemplate choosing a life of crime, which is a surprising development. The ending of the film is equally unexpected, as Jason's demise is not as straightforward as it initially appears.

In addition to being original and unexpected, the plot is full of nonstop action. There is no real down time in the film and the events take place in quick succession. There are also a couple of times Batman appears to be near death, which makes the film very suspenseful. Although Batman dying is impossible to conceive, the scenes are convincing enough to have even the biggest Batman fans worried.

The one flaw of the plotline is the fact that audience members not familiar with the Batman series are provided very little background information. "Batman: Under the Red Hood" is based on the "Red Hood" series that appears in the monthly "Batman" comic. Judd Winick, the writer of the comic series, also wrote the screenplay for the film, so it is very accurate. However, fans who have not read the comic might get lost at times during the film.

Special Effects

"Batman: Under the Red Hood" was released straight-to-video, but the film received high critical acclaim due to its impressive special effects. There are several stunning scenes that show Batman, Black Mask and Red Hood leaping from building to building and flying through Gotham city. These scenes appear almost as realistic as the more mainstream films with higher budgets. The two explosion scenes have by far the best special effects. The fire appears as if it is going to blast right through the screen.

Although the film was not released in theaters, "Batman: Under the Red Hood" is a great animated film. The special effects are impressive and the voice actors bring the characters to life. Overall, "Batman: Under the Hood" has a great plot that keeps the audience guessing until the very last scene.