Reel Features Season 2 Ticket 1
Just when I thought that Batman animated movies couldn't get any darker this one sets a new precedent for tone and the amount of limits that this movie goes to. When you see acts of torture, very clear injuries, blood and even dealing with themes of the supernatural when Ra's AL Ghul is actually trying to raise Jason Todd from the dead with the rejuvenating properties of the Lazarus pit which is supposed to keep the character youthful and mobile - it does make you ask the question - what is the story going to do next?
Jason Todd was already a reckless loose cannon as the second Robin in the run of Batman comic has dick Grayson had already gone solo and establish himself as his own vigilante hero as Nightwing. We are treated to flashbacks of Jason's very early run as robin as a pre-teen being a mid Adolescent and Batman's struggle to control his volatile nature, leading to reprimand scenes where batman is chastising the second Robin for first questionable decision making.
The movie deals with a lot of the consequences of Vengeance and at the same time how far one man will go try and stop his former protege from going to the point of no return and by the same token looking to seek Redemption for what he considers one of his greatest failures, which was failing to not only control Todd's reckless behavior but also the fact that he feels that he let Robin die.
This is encapsulated perfectly at the start of the movie where Batman fails to reach Jason Todd in time and amongst the wreckage and holds his lifeless body as he picks him up in his arms which is a nod to one of the comic books and you see him trying to hold Back the tears knowing that he failed.
I don't think they could have picked a better cast for this movie. Now one could make the argument that they could have just called up on Kevin Conroy to once again take up the mantle of his iconic from the early 90s and to be fair I think Conroy would have done this Justice but you hear Bruce Greenwood as Batman and it actually suits the tone and the narrative of this movie.
Because this is not your daddy's is Batman from the early 90s.
No no no no no! This is a much darker Batman then what we are accustomed to in animated form and by extension that's not to say that Conroy has never done the dark stuff in an animated movie I mean need I remind you of Batman mask of the phantasm? That early 90s that movie went to places! If you ever get time after watching this particular movie I suggest you go check that 1993 movie out and good lord! That was dark for an animated movie.
So every once in a while it's actually nice just to try and freshen things up a little because variety is the spice of Life. And the likes of Greenwood really makes Batman stand out quite well and he offers his own spin on it. Some reviewers have made the argument that they feel that Bruce is borrowing far too much from the Legendary Kevin Conroy and to some extent I agree. But there is more of a gruff delivery with Greenwood's lines and it works for the movie. Especially with lines like " lie to me again and crashing into a wall will be the least painful experience of your evening!" now call me Skeptical, call me naive, but I don't ever recall Kevin Conroy uttering lines like that in any form of Batman animated series or animated movies.
It's just a very fresh approach that is very welcome to from The Dark Knight.
Let's talk about the joker for a minute shall we? Mark Hamill and Kevin Michael Richardson are hands down my favourite interpretations of The Clown Prince of Crime by I lean more to Richardson.
But that said, when I heard John DiMaggio's portrayal of the Joker I was intrigued and impressed. Here was a performance that was I would say partially inspired by what Mark Hamill had done for so many years from the Animated Series to various movies but DiMaggio like Greenwood was trying to make it his own thing and more power to him.
While most iterations of the Joker have never been short on crazy, psychotic and lunatic mentalities - DiMaggio with the way he voices Joker he actually sounds like he is taking a really sick perverse pleasure with the way he is delivering his Lines.
But that said and this is something that I've made the point of saying for years with several impressive performances - if an actor is enjoying the role that they are doing it's going to show up in their performance because they are actually pouring energy and motion and conviction into what they are doing to the point that you have to hold them off and say woah woah woah woah woah woah slow down a little bit! And that applies quite well with John in this equation but in all seriousness it works for what the movie was setting out to do when yeah more power to it.
And then you have Neil Patrick Harris as Dick Grayson in this movie aka Nightwing and I really like the charming and charismatic swagger that Harris brings to this role.
Most people that are familiar with Neil's work in animation voice over will remember as the voice of the titular character in the MTV Spider-Man from 2003 and by extension Spider-Man shattered dimensions. And in those performances he really captures Peter Parker's character as both Parker and a Spidey perfectly.
So to hear him voice dick Grayson as a much more distinguished version of a vigilante in Batman's world it actually fits the movie and it fits the character and because Harris has a very chatty and charming persona when it comes to his voice over roles and most of his live action roles it's just a match made in Heaven.
The score does its job in immensely well to where it really elevates the mood and brooding scenes when Batman is reflecting upon what has led to this whole debacle. He is putting the blame solely on his shoulders because in his mind he let his soldier down - his partner.
And then it comes to this Mexican standoff in a weird way where Todd basically hears what Bruce is trying to say to him and he dismisses the argument that all of this is just to punish Bruce for letting Jason died which you later goes to say I forgive you for what happened but then points the blame at the joker and end stating quite bluntly "why in God's name is he still alive!?"
Nobody will argue the merits of why Batman has kept the Crown prince of crime alive for so many years when the Logical mindset would be to take him out of the equation altogether and probably reducing Gotham's crime rate.
But therein lies the problem - Batman has this one simple rule I: "will not kill!" even if he is tempted the most to take him out of the equation he knows if he goes down into the abyss he is never coming back and that is the whole point. Batman does a lot of questionable and unethical acts to be able to get the job done and get crime off the street but taking a life is completely against his moral code of ethics.
He even directs this to Jason saying you don't understand he has wanted to kill Joker for years but he knows that is a place that he can never come back from if he ever crossed over to that side.
As most people have seen from fiction through the years whether it be the movies whether it's the comic the Animated Series or animated movies there have been times where you can clearly see that he is walking a tightrope over that Abyss and he manages to stop himself from falling into said Abyss whereas Jason fell into that a long time ago.
The ending does leave a possibility of a sequel in the future because at the end of the explosion you only see Bats and Joker that survived and Red-hood or Jason Todd is nowhere to be seen.
Now whether this was done deliberately just to leave an open ending or to leave on a cliffhanger I think is entirely up to your own interpretation.
Because I think the possibility of a Red-Hood 2 would be welcomed with open Arms by fans and critics alike.
Having never read the original comic book and also the original comic book this is an extension of from death and the family I can't really comment on how authentic and genuine it is to the source material because I leave it up to people who are better qualified and have more time and patience to go through the details with a fine tooth comb.
But to weigh the movie on its own merits and its own pros and cons I can highly recommend this to anybody who is a Batman fan or just enjoys comic animated movies or anybody that just wants to see a well written well performed story for just over an hour.
There's a simple reason why DC and Warner Brothers are owning the straight to DVD movies.
Because DC know how to respect their audience.
Thank you for your time.
You can buy Under The Red Hood from Amazon
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