Think Of The Homeless

There are over 30 million Americans who live on the streets of our nation. Can you consider giving something to a shelter near you? Your fellow human beings need socks because they walk everywhere. Food and shelter are great too, if they will take them. So please give.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Batman: Under the Red Hood

Batman: Under the Red Hood

(2010) Pg-13
75 min. Warner Home Video

Genre: Action & Adventure, Animation

Starring: Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles, Neil Patrick Harris, John DiMaggio, Jason Isaacs, Wade Williams, Alexander Martella, Vincent Martella

Director: Brandon Vietti
Screenwriter: Judd Winick

Back in the early 90’s there was a truly great Batman cartoon produced by Warner Brothers that managed to “hit the nail on the head” in getting the concept of Batman correct for a mass audience. The executive producer, Bruce Timm, has been the gate keeper for the animated character ever since. It’s a good thing too, as the animated movies take what is now a classic production and expand in directions, both in expository and in 2-D animation, that the TV series simply had neither the time or advantage of modern tech to include.

Warner Premiere’s Batman: Under the Red Hood is perhaps the most well structured and thoughtfully written installment in the now building pantheon of animated features which build on the past television series. More adult oriented than a Saturday morning cartoon type installment, and darker in its overtones, the convolution begins with story line from around 1951 with the criminal who would become the Joker, the death of the second Robin (Jason Todd), and then continues with the sudden spree of vigilantism being performed on Batman’s turf by someone known as the Red Hood. Students of Batman lore will see the that the light at the end of the tunnel is a oncoming train.

The Red Hood is a ruthless killer who begins regulating the drug trade of Gotham City while muscling in on the criminals who have the territory scoped out for now. A criminal called the Black Mask, who looks a lot like Captain America’s Red Skull, isn’t too crazy about the Hood’s ability to move around his town decapitating members of the Mask’s organization and plugging up the business works. Logically, knowing the Joker and his involvement with “Red Hood” history, Batman heads to Arkham Asylum in typical investigative commencement. When the Joker is found to still be maleficently impotent, Batman heads in a new investigative direction, a more direct one and the first meeting with the Red Hood, with assistance from Nightwing (the first Robin) “smells” like three day old fish. Even the casual fans will not need to be told that Batman is pursuing a criminal with a special “homegrown” edge.

The Red Hood knows his way around Batman’s inner torment too, and this makes him a little more dangerous than usual. He seems to know how to throw Bats a few psychological time bombs as well as some physical ones, and there are quite a few, by addressing old wounds that deal with his history of creating the Joker, failing to save Jason, what Robin’s both present and past have meant to Batman as well as Batman’s personal commitment to Gotham City as a whole. The final scene is a real nail biter, having been built into with mental, emotional and also some physical cache that is pulled off with intelligence and style that can only come from a studio with professional chops that both knows it audience and respects its need for validation.

Action sequences abound and are well thought out ahead of time as all characters involved actually seem to be worthy of field maneuvers on the fly that remind one of classic chess moves along side the bruising physical action. When you say Warner Brother’s animation these days, I doubt that Bugs Bunny is the first thing that comes to mind anymore. Voice acting is well delivered and amazingly directed also. There’s no Kevin Conroy this time for the voice of Batman, but Geenwood gives us a convincing turn and shows the world that Batman is a voice that takes special control and thankfully can be done by more than one actor. Ackles Red Hood is at first a little jarring, but once you get into the story it becomes understood why certain choices were made. It’s the Joker here that surprises. There is no Mark Hamil around this time either, done with great controlled panache by DiMaggio of “Bender” fame instead. I missed the wild abandon of Hamil’s Joker, but on further study have come to see the directoral choices made in the story telling this time as being correct in presenting a Joker who seems a bit more sedate for most of the action. He does, of course, never fail to disappoint in proving to all concerned by the end of the movie his loose cannon insanity which makes him the top tier villain that he is.

It is quite obvious that the movie has a whole back history booklet that is attached to the main story line here, and this gives a heavy air of importance and reality that viewers rarely get in a vehicle which is timed out at say, 20 minutes, for commercial television. Overall a top flight production on all counts which deserves more than just straight to video release, I believe. Not for kids, to be sure, but not offensive in a solicitous way either. This is the thinking man’s Batman. And that final scene, what a doozy!

5/5 Stars

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