Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Batman: Under The Red Hood Blu-ray Review

Batman: Under the Red Hood (Amazon Exclusive with Litho Cel) [Blu-ray]DC Comics keeps doing something so right with their direct to home market animated films that it really makes you wonder why the hell things seem to go so wrong with most of their film efforts. Sure, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were very well done, but shit like Jonah Hex and Superman Returns have made me question just what they are smoking over in those Warner Bros. offices.

Thankfully, for every misfire that they have in live-action films, a gem like Batman: Under The Red Hood comes to DVD, Blu-ray and VOD. They may be getting their asses handed to them by Marvel when it comes to theatrical releases, but they sure know hat they are doing with animation.

Red Hood starts off with some very familiar ground, at the end of the "Death In The Family" storyline, with the Jason Todd Robin being beat to a bloody pulp by the Joker, and then eventually murdered by some explosives. Most of us hardcore comic book fans remember reading this, with some of us cheering the Joker on, but we don't remember hearing the sound of each sickening hit or seeing blood fly from Robin's face and body. Yes, this is by far the most brutal depiction of DC animation yet.

The story moves on to depict a mixture of different Batman story-lines, culling from a combination of some older ones and more recent plots. The mixture is a good balance of history with enough references to the source material to make any fan happy, yet is accessible enough for a first time viewer to be able to understand what is going on. You won't feel alienated either way. The stark tone is also accented with some great humor, much of which comes with Nightwing, The Black Mask and of course The Joker. The difference, of course, being that Nightwing is the only one of the three that isn't completely fucking insane.

One thing that really impressed the ass out of my pants was how the animation team has handled all the fighting and action in animation. The previous DC animated films were also well done in this department but Red Hood shines like none before. Chris Nolan himself could learn a thing or to about how to direct a Batman action sequence as every hit has weight behind it, every move has a logical reason and conclusion, and every fight is exciting and brutal. I kept verbalizing each time I saw something that looked painful, which for 2D animation is very hard to get across to your viewers. I don't think I've ever said "Oooofff!" or "Goddam, ouch!" while watching a cartoon before... not even Tom and Jerry.

Jensen Ackles as the Red Hood does a good job of getting the character across well and the ideas posed by his character and the origin are also interesting to think about. I don't want to spoil it for those who don't already know who the Red Hood is, but it was interesting to see a different take on how to "control crime" in Gotham city.

With a great voice cast, fantastically kinetic animation, a good script and obvious respect for the source material it would be hard to tell any comic fan not to buy this film upon release on July 27, 2010. However, the inclusion of an animated Jonah Hex short, which is also great, makes it damn right impossible to tell you anything other than to get this shit as soon as you can. The Blu-ray's use is felt greatly here, with bonus episodes of animated series content, a first look at the next Superman/Batman film as well as other supplemental features that make the 19.99 price-tag seem like a bargain. DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation has outdone themselves. The bar has been raised for direct to home animated films, as well as just action scenes in animation, period.

Can we get some theatrical movies like this now, please?

Movie: A+
Special Features: A
Overall: A
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