Monday, August 2, 2010

Batman: Under The Red Hood is Fantastic

I guess I gave away most of the review in the title, I need to stop doing that. Regardless, it's true, Batman: Under the Red Hood (BUTRH, from now on) is the best example of Batman in the post-Bruce Timm era.

The story is downright fantastic. It starts with a bang, Robin being beaten by the Joker, and doesn't relent until the final frame. It's intense, mature, exciting, and very personal. And even with the weight of the back story, the plot never gets bogged down with it, instead just rolling with what you need to know and leaving the rest as background noise. It's superbly done.

Working with the story are the fantastic voice performances from all the major players. I'm one who has trouble when I see an animated Batman that's not voiced by Kevin Conroy. His deep baritone will forever be the voice of Batman for me, and everyone else is just a wannabe. That is, until I heard Bruce Greenwood.

Greenwood adds a bit more of a fatherly edge to the mean old man, allowing us to see the kind man underneath the bat-motifs. Although, I gotta say I'm a little biased when it comes to Greenwood, as he tends to be the best parts of a lot of movies, especially when he's playing the father/mentor type. He excells in the role, and if it wasn't for his age, I would totally want him to play Bats on the big screen as well.

The other big casting change was with The Joker. With Mark Hamill officially retiring from the character, I was worried that we would be forced to listen to hammy, second rate Jokers for a few years until we landed on a great replacement. Fortunately for us, John Dimaggio was tapped for the role and is utterly fantastic. He's less manic than Hamill was, but makes up for it by being much more sinister. His Joker is a joy to watch, and you never quite know which way he's going to go in any given scene. Seriously they need to keep Dimaggio around for a long time.

Rounding out the cast is NPH as Nightwing, who has a very put on heroic voice, which works but is a little forced; and Jensen Ackles as The Red Hood, who is pretty good if not hindered by having a lack of mouth animation on the character. It's not his fault really, it just looks weird and feels like voice over, rather than the character's voice, if you follow that reasoning.

In the end, you should totally go out and rent and/or buy this movie, as it'll go down in history as a classic along with Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Kudos to DC for really knocking it out of the park with this one, it almost makes me excited for they're next one. Almost.

Now, if only Marvel Animation could figure out their shit and produce this good. Sigh.

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