Saturday, August 05, 2017
My Review of Batman: Under The Red Hood (2010)
Written by Judd Winick
Directed by Brandon Vietti
Red Hood: "Tell me, how does that feel?"
Joker: "You know, it only hurts when I laugh. But hey... I gotta know. Who are you? You said we knew one another. You do seem really familiar. We double at the prom? Or maybe blow up a school bus together?"
And here's another animated movie adapting a popular comic within the Batman franchise. This time around, it's Under The Red Hood which starts with a handy recap of A Death In The Family where the Joker kidnapped and bashed in Jason Todd's Robin's brains in before an explosion killed him. Back in the late 1980's, people actually voted for the second Boy Wonder to be killed but you know, the thing about comic book characters is that very few of them actually stay dead for long.
Now a few decades later and Jason Todd is back, resurrected by the Lazarus Pit in some attempt by Ras al Ghul (Jason Isaacs) to give Bruce back his other son but the process went a bit wrong and now Jason has gone into a weird hybrid of vigilante meets serial killer by donning the moniker of Red Hood, a name formerly used by someone else all those years ago.
Voiced by Supernatural actor Jensen Ackles, Jason's on a one man mission of revenge against the Joker (John DiMaggio) and he does this by targeting Black Mask's (Wade Williams) criminal organisation, bringing it to it's knees and making the gangster so desperate to take out the Red Hood that the Joker suddenly becomes the best option here.
To say that Black Mask is a patsy in this story would almost be complimenting him. He's never been one of my favourite members of the Rogues Gallery but he's absolutely useless in this story. All he seems to do is shout like an imbecile at his beleaguered staff, with even one member Ms Li (Kelly Hu) treating him with little more than contempt and disdain for him. At no point in this movie is he remotely interesting or threatening as a villain.
As for the Joker, he's not got the best voice actor in this one. I've heard DiMaggio in other DC animated movie roles and he's fine but he simply doesn't cut it as the Joker, even though he's given a decent script to work with here. His Joker is certainly lethal in the flashbacks and the delight he takes when he realises that Jason is alive and crazy is amusing enough but the voice just doesn't sound right, no matter how many times I've seen the movie. Sometimes you just need a Mark Hamill for this type of movie.
As for Batman (Bruce Greenwood), he fares a little better but mostly he's reacting to Red Hood's antics or remembering Jason's formative years as Robin before their confrontation with the Joker in the warehouse. There's a nice supporting role for Nightwing (Neil Patrick Harris) who's a bit more cheerful but sadly he's also taken out of the mix a little too quickly for my liking. The movie does however end on a rather poignant and bittersweet note.
- Nice reference to The Killing Joke, which happened a year after the events of Jason's murder. Shame we didn't get an Oracle cameo in this one.
- Judd Winick wrote the comic and adapted this movie. Apparently he prefers the latter iteration.
- There's a clever reference to the Joker's first ever comic appearance with his prison number.
- We've seen allusions to Jason's murder in two of the DCEU's movies. Oh and a brief Riddler cameo in flashbacks too.
A strong movie, Under The Red Hood provided a great adaptation of it's comic counterpart. While I do think the Joker could've been voiced better and found Black Mask useless, Jason made for a compelling character as Red Hood than he ever did as Robin and the reunion with him and Batman was definitely handled well.
Rating: 7 out of 10