Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010) - Special Edition [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Animation / Crime / Drama
Warner Premiere || PG13 - 76 minutes - $29.99 || July 27, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-07-11


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Brandon Vietti
Writer(s): Bob Kane (characters); Judd Winick (written by)
Cast: Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles, John DiMaggio, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Isaacs


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • DC Showcase: Jonah Hex
  • 3 Featurettes
  • 4 Bonus Episodes of B:TAS
  • Digital Copy


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

The DC Universe Animated movies have been hit or miss. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed them and that includes Green Lantern: First Flight, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths and even Superman/Batman: Public Enemies which disappointed many people. The latest is Batman: Under the Red Hood was actually the most disappointing entry into the DCU Animated series.

Under the Red Hood combines some of the “Death in the Family” storyline of the late 1980s with the “Red Hood” story from only a few years ago (though I haven’t kept up with the comic books for a while now), but like with some of the other DCU movies, it’s a more simplistic and concise telling of the stories.

The film opens with The Joker (voiced by JOHN DIMAGGIO) beating the hell out of Robin/Jason Todd with a crowbar in Sarajevo – the original story, if I recall correctly, took place in Iraq – and leaves him for dead. Meanwhile, Batman (BRUCE GREENWOOD) is racing to the warehouse and as he approaches, the place blows up. He finds Robin in the rubble and we get that iconic shot of Batman holding Robin’s lifeless body. Indirectly, Ra’s Al Ghul (JASON ISAACS) is responsible for the tragedy as he unleashed The Joker to distract Batman and Robin from his ultimate plans and unfortunately Robin gets nabbed.

Fast forward five years later and Batman is still kicking ass and taking names as he intersects a shipment meant for mobster Black Mask (WADE WILLIAMS). This shipment is in fact an android that has superpowers taken from other superheroes (like heat vision, etc) so Batman has his hands full and receives help from Nightwing a.k.a. Dick Grayson (NEIL PATRICK HARRIS).

Meanwhile, there’s a new muscle in town who goes by Red Hood (JENSEN ACKLES) and he’s trying to take over Black Mask’s men and drug territory and while his actions have resulted in a drop in crime, Red Hood also has a mean streak and has no problem killing others. Basically he has Batman’s skills but not his moral code.

Batman: Under the Red Hood was actually a bit on the disappointing side for me as a fan of the Caped Crusader and as someone who collected nearly every Batman comic released back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. So it’s with some trepidation to say that this isn’t DCU’s best animated film released to date. Although it’s still a fun movie with action aplenty and seeing some of the stories come to animated life, I couldn’t fully get into it for some reason.

On the style front, I do like that these DC Universe Animated Movies try different ways to design Batman, Superman and other DC Comic characters and the designs for this film are pretty good, even The Joker’s facial wrinkles (see Superman in Superman: Doomsday) was an interesting interpretation.

Speaking of interpretation, the vocal talent this time around is a tad better than what I heard in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, namely they didn’t cast Stephen Baldwin to voice Batman, a choice that I was annoyed by. Bruce Greenwood is a classic supporting actor who doesn’t seem to appear all too often in films but provides a certain veteran quality necessary for Batman. In terms of the other actors, they all do a fine job between Neil Patrick Harris’s limited part as Nightwing, Jason Isaacs brief appearance voicing Ra’s Al Ghul or the unknown Jensen Ackles portraying Red Hood. The standout, though, and one that will surely be talked about amongst fanboys, is John DiMaggio as The Joker. At first, his voice was jarring primarily because both Heath Ledger and Mark Hamill provide two fantastic voices for the Clown Prince of Crime and DiMaggio doesn’t quite have it upon the first appearance, but admittedly the voice does start to grow on you, though still doesn’t hold a candle to Ledger or Hamill.

Overall, Under the Red Hood is par for the course in regards to DCU’s animated line-up of late, meaning good but not great. Since I am a fan of the characters I did enjoy it slightly more than First Flight and Crisis on Two Earths but at the same time, I was also a tad disappointed.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

This Blu-ray comes with a shiny slip cover not unlike the other DC Universe releases. The set of features are probably comparable to the other DCU releases so there are a couple good featurettes but nothing outstanding.

DC Showcase: Jonah Hex (11:53; HD) – This is DC Showcase’s second animated short, their first was “The Spectre”, and I don’t know if this “Jonah Hex” short was to correspond with the feature film bomb, but I actually was fairly amused by it. The short features the voices of Thomas Jane (The Punisher) and Linda Hamilton (Terminator).

Robin: The Story of Dick Grayson (24:13; SD) chronicles the origins of the original Boy Wonder and why the character was created and the differences between Grayson and the death of his parents with that of Bruce Wayne. It’s a story any Batman fan has heard or read before but it’s done well enough featuring interviews with various people within DC Comics as well as comic book fans as well.

Robin’s Requiem: The Tale of Jason Todd (20:58; SD) – This is similar to the previous featurette in that we get to learn all about Jason Todd and how he came about including his death which was decided by the fans back in 1988 and the reaction to it afterward. It’s a good featurette but could’ve been done a tad better considering Jason Todd is the main focus of the film. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

A First Look at Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (12:12; SD) – This is a glimpse at DCU’s next animated project set for release later this year (Fall 2010). Like the other “First Look” featurettes that have come before, it outlines the story and introduces us to the voice talents attached; since this is a sequel to “Public Enemies” it does mark the returns of Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly as Batman and Superman respectively. Summer Glau has been cast to voice Kara/Supergirl while Andre Braugher voices Darkseid.

And as with other Batman or Superman oriented releases, this comes with four bonus episodes from “Batman: The Animated Series” chosen by Bruce Timm. The episodes include: ‘Robin’s Reckoning, Part 1’, ‘Robin’s Reckoning, Part 2’, ‘Mad Love’ and ‘The Laughing Fish’.

Last up is a digital copy download code for the film and some trailers for the Jonah Hex Motion Comic, The Lord of the Rings Animated movie, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Batman: Gotham Knight and Superman: Doomsday.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Batman: Under the Red Hood is presented with a 1.78 aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition. Animated movies are tough to really gauge in HD mainly because you will not have any sort of grain or flaws such as dust and/or scratches so you know you’re getting a clean looking picture. First, I will say that the color palette does look good balancing the darkness of Batman plus the lighter tones of Robin during the flashback scenes.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track actually was a little soft for my ears at times as a couple of the explosions didn’t have much depth, however the dialogue does sound really good and other sound effects manage to provide great audio across all the channels. I’m not prepared to say this is a great lossless track but given Warner has previously provided the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks before, it’s nice to get a DTS-HD MA one for a change.



.::OVERALL::.

All in all if you are a Batman fan or have liked previous DCU entries, this is certainly worth a try. The video looks great and the audio is adequate enough and once again the features are underwhelming, but on the whole it’s a decent release.