Friday, August 27, 2010

Batman: Under the Red Hood REVIEW

I decided to watch this title because it was at my local Red Box and because I happened to have read this story arc in the comics. Due to reading the story arc, I was piqued at how they could make a story that relied on reading so many books and required such a great deal of knowledge of continuity to understand.

Thankfully, they decided to take out most of the convoluted stuff that plagues comics these days and kept it to the batman universe. While knowledge of the comics is helpful, it is not nearly as important as it was while reading the book.

While the details in the story are drastically different from those shown in the comics, the major twists are mostly the same. Unfortunately, while I knew the identity of the Red Hood from the get go, it is very obvious who he is throughout the movie, so I’d know about it 10 minutes in. This wouldn’t be an issue if the commercials didn’t make it look like it was a big mystery.

For the uninitiated, what is the plot of this movie? Batman, 5 years after the trauma of having the second Robin (Jason Todd, not Dick Grayson, who grew up and got his own spin off series) beaten to death by the Joker. This side plot is told mostly in flashbacks, where we see Batman’s relationship to Jason. The main plot revolves around the new vigilante in town, The Red Hood, who is trying to stop organized crime by both regulating it and blowing the heads off of people who disagree with him. This pisses off the current head of crime in town, “The Black Mask” who seems to serve the purpose of having a comic relief villain that isn’t nearly as awesome as the Joker. As seen in the nearby picture, The Joker wasn’t amused by his antics.

I'm sorry, this bag of chips is more interesting than you
I can’t really decide whether my favorite part of the movie was the fight scenes or the scenes of the Joker being a jerkwad. While during the first half of the movie Mistah Jay doesn’t do much exiting stuff, in the second half he really shines. I love it when the Black Mask tries to deal with him. Plus, the way he likes to remind Bats about what he did to Jason reminds just how much of a sadistic bastard he is. On the other side of things, the fight scenes are fast paced, and manage to recreate a lot of the parts shown in the comics. We get lots of awesome bro fights, including a fight where Batman and Nightwing team up and a fight where bats and the Red Hood fight some of the Black Mask’s thugs. The presence of Nightwing in this movie amuses me, seeing how he’s my second favorite DC character outside of Hal Jordan.

One thing that miffed me was that during this movie, I had a lot of trouble believing that the characters were not super powered. During one fight scene, bats and the red hood are slamming each other into walls hard enough to smash the ceramic tiles or to bust through a sink and neither of them gets a scratch. During this I was going “wait, WHAT?” since I know that any person would at LEAST have their face smashed up, but these guys actually shrug it off and keep going. It separated me from the movie a bit, since Batman is taking hits like Superman.

Voice acting is good in the movie, although Nightwing has some cringeworthy moments and gets a bit annoying. Mark Hamil is still the Joker, despite how much the current cast tries, but the guy who plays him does a solid job delivering lines.

The movie is worth a rent, but not nearly as great as other Batman animated movies such as “Return of the Joker” While the plot lacks mystery like the commercials say it has, it makes up for it with nice fight scenes and the Joker providing some twisted jokes to keep the mood dark. While it works for the PG-13 rating, I really wish it upped the gore factor, especially in scenes where a person is BEING BEAT TO DEATH WITH A CROWBAR, or when somebody is being slammed through the kitchen sink. Although nitpicks like this exist, it is a fun ride, and that easily makes it worth a rent, especially if you’re a fan of the Bat.