There have been many of these animated straight to DVD batman movies in the past. While none have been great, most of them were entertaining. “Batman: Under the Red Hood” is the best one that I have seen. Of course it is not perfect, but you could tell that some work was put into it. Some straight to DVD movies I have seen have been decent, but it could have been better if some more effort was put in. Well I am glad some effort was put into this one. This one is also not for young kids. I know, an animated batman movie not for kids? “Batman: Under the Red Hood” has a more The Dark Knight feel to it than anything else. It takes a darker path. It does pay off, this is a real movie. Director Brandon Vietti does some of the same stuff that Nolan did in his Batman movies. Not to that high of a level, but it manages to get pretty close.
Now for the story. I was shocked to see how it opened. It opens with the Joker beating Robin to death with a crowbar and then blowing him up. You start to realize it’s not good for kids fast. Batman was too late to save him, he failed. After this we cut years later. Batman faces his ultimate challenge, as the mysterious Red Hood takes Gotham City by storm. He is part vigilante and part criminal kingpin, the Red Hood begins cleaning up the city of Gotham with the same efficiency of Batman, but without following the same ethical code. Killing is an option for the Red Hood. As Batman, with some help from Nightwing, chase down this new opponent, it may become more clear that Batman and the Red Hood share some old history together.
Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil are not the voices of Batman and the Joker in this one. I wasn’t to sure about this, those two were really good. Those were big shoes to fill. Thankfully the new people fill them well. Bruce Greenwod is the voice of Batman, and John DiMaggio is the voice of the Joker. It takes a little while, but you get used to them. Neil Patrick Harris is the voice of Nightwing and Jensen Ackles is the voice of the Red Hood. They got great actors to do the voice work. For a straight to DVD movie, this is pretty rare. The voice work is truly immaculate from everyone.
It has a really good story and is executed well. When the movie finally reveals who the Red Hood, it is no surprise. You can already guess who it is going to be after the first 10 min. That’s where it could have been done better. I mean Batman should have figured it out sooner than he does. The movie does make up for it however with it’s climax. The final confrontation between Batman and the Red Hood is remarkable. This is where the movie truly shines. Everything is perfect, especially the dialog for the whole climax. It also brings up complicated questions that I did not expect from this type of movie. With complicated questions, you have complicated characters. All the characters have depth to them. Like all the best superhero movies, it focuses on characters and their history. It’s way more than just non stop mindless action.
Of course there are still action scenes. They are all well choreographed, and are not tedious to watch. It also helps that we get involved with the characters. Like I said there were some complicated aspects to be found here. The best one being how they examine the psychological subtext of why Robins have ever existed, and what they really mean to Batman.
My main complaint is it’s to short. I understand that this is an animated batman movie, but this one had the potential to be up to par with The Dark Knight. It has a great story, great voice actors, complex characters, above average directing, and the dialog is surprisingly good. I can just imagine how amazing it might have been if it was 2 hours long. It was still made with great care though. I had low expectations for seeing this, and I was surprised at how good it turned out to be. It is a little gem of a movie. So despite it’s minor flaws, I am very happy I saw it.