Beneath the Dark Cowl
When you think Transformers: Animated, you think about the art style. And when you think about the art style, you think the Diniverse/Timmverse. And when you think about either of those, you’re reminded that the Marvel direct-to-dvd movies suck while the DC movies have all been pretty good, or at least watchable. And speaking of pretty good, Batman: Under the Red Hood is the goddamn Dark Knight of these animated movies.
First off, the art. The art is pretty nice. It isn’t as big chinned as Transformers: Animated or undetailed as Justice League, but it still retains that general Diniverse feel. And unlike Public Enemies (that Superman/Batman movie), the art doesn’t take a sudden nosedive toward the end. Animation-wise, it’s all pretty fluid too.
Okay, onto the real review. The short of it is, this flick is pretty much like Dark Knight in that it’s leagues beyond other animated superhero movies before it. There’s lots of action, and admittedly, there is a certain amount of “Let’s put so and so together and have them fight” involved, but that’s okay, it’s acceptable in a superhero movie and it isn’t without rhyme or reason.
Batman is Batman, not the Christian Bale version, but the Batman most people are familiar with through the cartoons. He’s Kevin Conroy’s Batman without actually being played by Kevin Conroy. There’s a bit of comic Batman in him as well, and the way Nightwing gushes over him, almost reminds one of the Brave and the Bold cartoon version. Various flashbacks also hint at the Adam West Batman, but I digress. Aaanyway, yeah, it’s Batman. He’s the vehicle in which the plot traverses, but there’s no particularly deep introspection centering on him in this movie.
Red Hood is cool, and you really get the sense that in the Bat-verse, he’s the only one qualified to take on Batsy. His master plot is built on several other plots, and ultimately, is what puts this movie in the realm of genuinely awesome. It’s not so much that we’re hit with Usual Suspects ending type plot twists or anything, it’s just that the story wrought by the Red Hood and his intentions, allows for an honest to goodness, 3-dimensional storyline, which thankfully, is well told.
Finally we’ve got the Joker, voiced by John Di Maggio. Yes yes, sadly, despite the laugh in the trailers, it’s not Hamill. This Joker has got shades of Heath Ledger and even Jack Nicholson, and the laugh is totally Mark Hamill, BUT, Di Maggio still totally makes this Joker his own. In some ways, I might even call this my favorite version of the Joker, since he’s got elements of all the greats while still being himself. Admittedly, a lot of that is thanks to Di Maggio taking a cue from Hamill insofar as the laugh is concerned. If I’ve got any problem with this Joker, is that he recycled a certain “Biker fetish” joke, which wasn’t that great in the first place.
So yeah, solid story that’s told well, with great character portrayals. One could say, Batman himself is the weakest link in this movie, but hey, he was the weakest link in Dark Knight as well. No movie can be without plot or logic flaws, especially a superhero movie, and I’m sure Under the Red Hood has such flaws. But you go into such movies with a certain amount of suspension of disbelief, and it’s one of the movie’s job to not break that suspension. Thankfully, Under the Red Hood does not, and that allows us to enjoy a bang up job of an animated direct-to-dvd movie.
Y’all should totally give this movie a watch.
Spoiler Alert: This is not an anime review.