Batman: Under the Red Hood [Blu-ray]
by Directed by Brandon Vietti
Review by Charles Mohapel
Warner Home Blu-ray ISBN/ITEM#: B003ITZBVI
Date: 26 September 2010 List Price $29.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: IMDB.com / Show Official Info /
While I had read a good number of Batman comic books in my lifetime, I stopped sometime before Dick Grayson stopped wearing the Robin costume, went to university, and returned as Nightwing, meaning the name Jason Todd meant nothing to me. All this didn't matter when I watched the trailer for Batman: Under the Red Hood and became intrigued by the premise.
Directed by Brandon Vietti
Written by Judd Winick
Bruce Greenwood ... Batman / Bruce Wayne (voice)
Jensen Ackles ... Red Hood (voice)
John Di Maggio ... Joker / Additional Voices (voice) (as John DiMaggio)
Neil Patrick Harris... Nightwing (voice)
Jason Isaacs ... Ra's al Ghul (voice)
Wade Williams ... Black Mask (voice)
Gary Cole ... Bobo / Commissioner Gordon / Guard (voice)
Alexander Martella... Young Robin / Jason Todd (voice)
Vincent Martella... Robin / Jason Todd (voice)
Jim Piddock ... Alfred Pennyworth (voice)
The film begins with Ra's al Ghul reading a report from one of his underlings about the activities of his temporary ally who is in Sarajevo. The Joker has captured Jason Todd and is slowly beating him to death with a crowbar. Finally the Joker says his goodbyes to Todd who is in very bad shape. Meanwhile Batman is quickly approaching the building on the Batcycle, but just as he gets close, the explosives rigged on a timer explode and destroy the building and killing Todd.
The next scene takes place five years later -- there's a new player in Gotham and he definitely has a bad attitude. Gotham is dominated by a single crimelord for the first time in 20 years and his name is the Black Mask, but this new player is called the Red Hood and he wants to be the new kingpin.
The Red Hood declares war on the Black Mask and when Batman and Nightwing try to stop the Red Hood, he addresses Batman in a very familiar manner, then makes good his escape. Studying video of their confrontation with the Red Hood, Batman is surprised to see familiar mannerisms.
The Black Mask sends the Fearsome Hand of Four, a team of deadly ninja-style assassins, after the Red Hood. Batman intervenes and saves the Red Hood, but before the latter leaves, the two have a brief discussion which reinforces Batman's suspicions. The Red Hood tells Batman that he is willing to do what Batman is unwilling to do - kill the villains.
Now alone, he picks up a katana with blood on the blade, brings it back to the Batcave, and analyzes the blood. Comparing the Red Hood's blood with a blood sample from Jason Todd when he was much younger, he gets confirmation from the Batcomputer -- the blood from the two samples are a match.
After the Red Hood nearly kills the Black Mask, the latter reluctantly concludes that he has to do something drastic and he frees the imprisoned Joker from Arkham Asylum. Meanwhile Batman pays a visit to Ra's al Ghul and the two of them talk. Feeling remorse for the brutal death of Jason Todd, al Ghul pays bribes in order to obtain Todd's corpse. Lowering the corpse in to the pool in the Lazarus Pit, Jason Todd is brought back from the dead, but at a high price -- he has gone mad and escapes. Since then al Ghul's army have been tracking but never capturing Todd, all of which brings us back to the present day.
Now Batman has to stop the Red Hood before any more people die.
Watching "DC Showcase: Jonah Hex" brought back a few memories of reading the occasional Jonah Hex comic and how the passing years have not mellowed him one iota. That said, the villains in this story deserved what they got from him.
"Robin: The Story of Dick Grayson" was a very interesting peek into the backstory of Batman and Robin, and though I can say that some of the information was quite familiar, a lot more was new to me.
Viewing the real experts on the subject talking in "Robin's Requiem: The Story of Jason Todd", I can understand why many readers voted for DC Comics to kill off the character. Seeing the final numbers in the fan vote I was surprised by how close it was -- I figured it would have been a landslide. I did enjoy the theory behind the final result as told to the camera by Dennis O'Neil (Writer and Former Editor – DC Comics), though I most definitely remember him as Denny O'Neil.
After watching "A First Peek At Superman/Batman Apocalypse", it mentioned a vague release date of Fall 2010, so I checked for the release date on Amazon.com and found out that it was scheduled to be released on September 28th. I can't wait to get my copy on Blu-ray.
The four bonus episodes from Batman The Animated Series, Season 1 handpicked by Bruce Timm were up to his normal standards and while I still don't care for the animation style used in the series, the stories were entertaining to the last.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'hoole looks like a great family-oriented film that I would have released in time for Christmas rather than on September 24th, but then again I'm not the studio executive who decided the release date.
Of all the trailers, the only one that interested me personally was the one for Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths and I reviewed it back in April 2010. That said, watching the trailer made me want to grab it off the shelf and watch it again.
Whether you know the Red Hood stories or not, Batman: Under the Red Hood on Blu-ray is an interesting story and well worth adding to your collection.