“Batman faces his ultimate challenge as the mysterious Red Hood takes Gotham City by firestorm. One part vigilante, one part criminal kingpin, Red Hood begins cleaning up Gotham with the efficiency of Batman, but without following the same ethical code. Killing is an option. And when the Joker falls in the balance between the two, hard truths are revealed and old wounds are reopened.”
“Batman: Under the Red Hood” is rated PG-13 for violent content and some drug references.
Take note of the PG-13 rating. This is not a film for children. It starts out showing the Joker beating Robin to death with a crowbar, then ultimately blowing him up and killing him. This is straight out of the classic “Death in the Family” comics right down to the imagery. The violence continues as we see the Red Hood deliver a bag full of severed heads to mob leaders, characters getting shot point blank by Joker, red blood spatters on walls as people’s heads are shot, and more. It’s nothing you don’t see in the movies, but it’s kind of surprising if all you’ve ever seen of animated Batman is Timm’s revered TV series.
The movie has some spectacular action scenes. It seems like there’s an explosion every 10 minutes. We see great chases between Batman and Red Hood, a great pursuit joined by Nightwing, and a fantastic fight scene with some cybernetic bounty hunters. But it’s not all batarangs and kung fu fighting. There’s a surprisingly strong character drama here. We see Batman tortured by the loss of Jason Todd and the appearance of Red Hood making matters even worse. I was also quite impressed by the final showdown between Red Hood and Batman. In it, Batman is confronted with the ultimate question – why did he never kill the Joker? His answer is emotional, dramatic, and perfectly defines the character. Bat-Fans will enjoy it.
The voice cast for this film is excellent. Bruce Greenwood takes on the role of Batman. While Kevin Conroy is, in my mind, the definitive Batman voice, Greenwood is excellent as well. In fact he sounds a lot like Conroy. He does a great job. Neil Patrick Harris also has a cameo as Nightwing. He, too, does a fantastic job. He sounds tough with just the right mixture of humor. He’s a great contrast to Batman. Then you have a brief appearance by Jason Isaacs as Ra’s al Ghul. He’s great as well and you start wondering what it would be like to see him play the role in a live action film. John Di Maggio steps in for Mark Hamill as The Joker. It’s a little odd to hear Bender playing Joker, but he’s good too. Oddly enough he seems to have a mix of Hamill’s style as well as Heath Ledger’s from “The Dark Knight.” It works well. Jensen Ackles also does a fine job as Red Hood.
“Batman: Under the Red Hood” is required viewing for any Batman fan. Anyone that saw the animated series will also definitely want to add it to their collection.
Unfortunately, the screening DVD which was sent to me has only one significant bonus feature. It’s a sneak peek at the upcoming “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse” movie coming in the fall. It’s based on the DC Comic by Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner. A big part of the featurette is discussing the debut of Supergirl, voiced by Summer Glau. Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy also return as Batman and Superman. But if you want to hear more about the making of “Batman: Under the Red Hood,” you’re going to need to pick up the Blu-ray or the 2-Disc DVD set.