While I love these DC Universe PG-13 animated movies, the fact that we’ve yet to get one set entirely in the world of Batman has been a bit disappointing. Yes, Batman has appeared in several of these flicks so far, but he has been regulated to a supporting role.
“What about BATMAN GOTHAM KNIGHT” you say? Sure, it was Batman-centric, but it wasn’t really a film. It was simply a series of animated shorts which served as supplemental advertisement for the live-action THE DARK KNIGHT movie to be frank.
However, that finally changes with the release of BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD — the 8th edition of these DCU PG-13 animated flicks from DC/Warner Bros. Not only is this totally a “Batman Movie,” it’s the best in these series of films I’ve seen so far.
I already know what y’all are thinking. “So, how does it compare previous animated Bat-Flicks?” Well…
It’s better than both SUB ZERO and BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER and right up there with — and might even surpass — the classic MASK OF THE PHANTASM.
Yes, I’m serious.
I’m quite sure that if you’re reading this review, you’ve most likely read the two comic book stories that the film is based on — A DEATH IN THE FAMILY from the late 1980s, and BATMAN: UNDER THE HOOD, from the mid-2000s.
B:UTRH’s plot revolves around The Batman’s self-professed biggest mistake: The murder of Robin #2, Jason Todd, at the hands of The Joker. While that event is the crux of the story, we only see it at the very beginning of the film. Once we get past the credits, the remainder of the film takes place some five years after the tragedy.
No, not THAT Red Hood, but there is certainly an important reason as to WHY this new Red Hood took upon that moniker. And speaking of the original Red Hood…
This just may one of the most impressive interpretations of The Joker I’ve seen in a Batman film to date — other than Heath Ledger’s classic and Oscar winning performance in THE DARK KNIGHT of course. Mucho props to screenwriter Judd Winick — he simply nails it with The Joker here in terms of characterization and dialogue. In addition, I’ve got to say “Well done!” to the folks who came up with the design for B:UTRH’s “look” for The Clown Prince of Crime. It’s both classic and fresh at the same time.
Then there’s John DiMaggio’s voice performance. In short, he’s fabulous as The Joker. I can only describe it as being not what you would expect, but spot-on simultaneously. Trust me, that’ll make total sense once you see it.
All you Ra’s Al Ghul fans can relax. Not only is his name pronounced correctly, but Jason Isaacs does the character proud. Hell, ‘ol Ra’s is almost a good guy in this one.
OK, I can hear you all, trust me….
“What about Bruce Greenwood as Batman?”
(Well, that was a rather ignorant statement. I’m sure many a “fan” will analyze, dissect, and then complain about every single syllable of Mr. Greenwood’s performance. They will then chalk it up as not being “Batman-ish enough.” *rolls eyes/shakes head*)
Let me finish up by saying that I can’t fathom anyone who is a self-professed “Batman Fan” not only liking, but loving BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD. It’s also the darkest animated Batman film yet, which is certainly a good thing. I also found it to be better story-wise than both of the comic book story arcs on which it’s based. Winick cleaned up A LOT of the problems that, candidly, hampered the source material. There’s no “Iranian diplomat Joker” or Superboy Prime/”Crisis” nonsense at hand here — all for the better I say.
How’s that for cool? – Bill “Jett” Ramey