Saturday, August 25, 2012

ANI-MOVIES, *Batman: Under The Red Hood

Being the first full-length Batman animated movie in a long time that had one consistant story to it(Gotham Knight not withstanding), the latest movie, Under The Red Hood is a retelling of the Under The Hood story arc from the Batman comics. This is a bold new direction for DC Universe by taking a character they’ve tried selling as being more family-oriented in productions like Batman: Brave And The Bold, and bringing the one that most die-hard comic readers can identify with on the level of The Dark Knight.

The story begins in the past with Joker under the payroll of Ra’s Al Ghul keeping Batman and Robin #2(Jason Todd)busy while he tries yet again to take over the world. However, the Joker “shockingly” goes way overboard, and kills Robin. Fast forward to five years later where a new masked man called the Red Hood is shaking up things in Gotham City by slowly taking over territory of local crime lord, Black Mask. Batman busts up a delivery of an Amazo robot with the help of Nightwing, but the goons smuggling it are taken out by the Red Hood. Originally, the Red Hood was the alias that the Joker used before he was given his permanent skin bleach. Bats and Nightwing check with Joker in locked in Arkham to see if he’s got any connection to this new Red Hood, but even your novice Bat-Fan could tell you the real Joker would’ve let you know if it was him. The Dynamic-former-Duo track down Hoodie robbing some pushers, but Nightwing hoits his widdle toe, and spends the rest of the movie on the bench. Black Mask sends out the Fearsome Hand Of Four after Red Mask, who are a team of cyber-ninjas original to the movie, but Batman shows up and they fold that deck together. Batman then deduces that R.H. is really Jason Todd, and takes the Batwing over to the other side of the world to have a chat with Ra’s Al Ghul. Ra’s revealed that he tried making amends for causing Jason to die by dipping him in his time-honored plot device, the Lazarus Pit. Jason came back, but pissed off as Hell, and escaped from Ra’s. After hearing this, Batman zooms back to Gotham, to find that Black Mask sprung Joker out of Arkham to kill Red Hood, but Joker doublecrossed him(suprise!), and uses him as bait to lure out his current successor. Red Hood makes off with Joker, and gets Batman to meet him in Crime Alley. Red Hood unmasks to show is indeed Jason Todd. Jason then corners Batman into either choosing between shooting him or Joker, which he stops Jason, and the building they’re in blows up. Batman and Joker survive, but Jason’s fate remains unknown. The movie ends with Batman reflecting on when Jason first became Robin.

First, I’d like to say how this movie differs from the comics. In the original context, Jason Todd was brought back to life mainly because the evil Superboy-Prime “punched reality”, and made it so Jason came back to life, although recent retellings of Red Hood’s origin also include him backstoking in a Lazarus Pit. There’s ben alot of retconning involving Jason’s resurrection, but the movie managed to pull it all together well. A few other things like the Black Mask hiring some C-List supervillains from the Secret Society instead of the “Hand Of Four” from the original story, although it makes more sense for them to have Batman taking on Mortal Kombat wannabes instead of Captain Nazi, even though they could’ve had them be the Royal Flush Gang or some other recognizable DC villains. There was also the rewrite of the Death In The Family story where Joker blows up Robin in the middle east, instead of Europe. Plus, no supervillain would ever be stupid or desperate enough to hire the Joker to do anything, and certainly not a criminal mastermind like Ra’s Al Ghul! Nightwing was also a little to flippant in this, like freaking out over the Amazo shooting lasers at him, which he should be used to after being with the Titans. Another character who was out of place was Black Mask, who is usually alot more cool and calculating, where here he was way more hotheaded.

As for the movie itself, I think this one has the best animation out of any of the other DC Universe movies, including some of the shorts from Gotham Knight. The city backgrounds look like it might be taking place in the actual downtown New York instead of fictional Gotham City, despite the fact that there are still police blimps in it. The character designs are awesome too, and Joker really looks menacing for once. Speaking of Mr. J, John DiMaggio(aka: “Bender”)does a bang-up job as Joker by bringing in influences of both Mark Hamill and Heath Ledger. Bruce Greenwood is fair as Bats, but he’s no Kevin Conroy. Jason Ackles is good as Jason Todd, and Neil Patrick Harris makes for a decent Nightwing. My only real low grade on the movie is that it should’ve ended on a more realistic note instead of just some happy flashback with young Jason Todd. The special edition DVD and Blu-Ray versions also feature a killer DC Showcase animated short of Jonah Hex starring Thomas Jane which is waaaay better than that crappy live-action movie, plus a decent documentary on Dick Grayson as Robin. So, in closing, I’d wholeheartedly demand that any Bat-Fan should store this in their cave between the giant penny and robot dinosaur

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