Under the Red Hood Movie Review

undertheredhoodmovieWell, since I’m still awaiting the release of Justice League: War and am currently too lazy to start my Arkham Asylum reviews, I figured it was time to get around to talking about Under the Red Hood, which is probably my favorite comic book animated feature to date.

Under the Red Hood is a dark and twisted movie that’s really not afraid to show a more sinister side to the Batman mythos, and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s hard to do a movie about the second Robin, Jason Todd, without some mention of the macabre, and I doubt the story would be as powerful without it either. Jason’s drama comes from a dark place, so it makes perfect sense that a movie about him would be just as dark and violent; it’s wonderful that this story doesn’t shy away from that.

Spoilers for Under the Red Hood after the jump.

batman_under_the_red_hood_2Our story begins five years ago, with the Joker torturing Jason by beating him with a crowbar. Following that, the Joker locks him inside an exploding building. Jason dies as a result, and five years after the event, even with the Joker locked back up in Arkham Asylum, Batman still cannot forgive himself for failing to save Jason.

One night, while Batman and Nightwing—the first Robin, Dick Grayson—are out patrolling, they encounter a masked vigilante calling himself the Red Hood. Unlike Batman, Red Hood is willing to kill criminals, and his body count gets higher every night. In addition to murder, Red Hood’s also been taking over the drug business, successfully getting himself on the bad side of Black Mask, another drug lord. Not only is the Red Hood up against Batman, and proving himself to be one of Batman’s greatest foes, but due to his actions, Black Mask feels trapped and threatened. As a result, Black Mask has the Joker broken out of prison to deal with the Red Hood.

RH_Knife_03As all of these events keep piling up, Batman begins to realize that the Red Hood is actually Jason Todd come back from the grave. Ra’s al Ghul, another of Batman’s villains, had made a deal with the Joker five years ago. Ra’s had been making plans for terrorist actions, but he worried that Batman and Jason would discover those plans. He hired the Joker to distract the two, which he later realized to be a mistake. Ra’s overestimated his ability to control the Joker, and as such, he felt responsible for Jason’s death, which he thought had been unnecessary. So Ra’s had his men steal Jason’s body and then he revived Jason using the Lazarus Pit, a magical pool that can bring people back to life.

Unfortunately, Jason came back wrong, I guess you could say—basically, now he’s mentally unstable. The cause of his instability is a little unclear, and I think it’s a result of numerous things. The Lazarus Pit may have failed to fully rejuvenate his mind, or most likely, Jason’s grasp on reality might be slipping because he still remembers the Joker torturing him to death. Additionally, even before his murder, Jason was never the most stable person—he was prone to violence and angry outbursts. Regardless, this newly revived Jason is much more dangerous and mentally unstable than he had been beforehand.

Making the situation even more unfortunate, Jason discovers that Batman didn’t kill the Joker to avenge his death, prompting him to take up the mantle of Red Hood and terrorize Gotham.

Jason’s plan was to force Black Mask into a corner, because he knew Black Mask had the connections to break the Joker out of Arkham. Once Joker is out, Jason makes his move, and attempts to force Batman into killing the Joker. Batman refuses, and says that he can’t kill the Joker, because he believes that if he gives into his desire to kill the Joker he won’t be able to bring himself back from that dark place.

Jason, Batman, and the Joker have a bit of a showdown, and it ends with the building they’re in exploding from a bomb Jason set beforehand. Batman and the Joker survive the blast, but Jason is nowhere to be seen, thus ending the movie with the audience wondering whether or not Jason survived as well.

As I said, this is probably my favorite comic book animated feature, and it’s really a wonderfully told story. I do have some issues with it—for instance, other than Black Mask’s assistant and a brief appearance by Talia al Ghul in a flash back, there are no female characters whatsoever—but it’s a little hard to focus on those shortcomings when the rest of the film is done so well. Not only is the story intriguing, the art is beautiful and it has an amazing voice cast. John William DiMaggio (Jake from Adventure Time) is the Joker, Jensen Ackles (Dean from Supernatural) plays Red Hood, Neil Patrick Harris (Barney from How I Met Your Mother) is our Nightwing, and even Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter) shows up to be our Ra’s.

A lot of care went into Under the Red Hood, and it shows. If you’re a Batman fan and you haven’t watched it, then I don’t know what you’re doing, because you should definitely get on that. And if you like Under the Red Hood, I recommend the comics it’s based on, Batman: Under the Hood, as well. Under the Hood is a lot more in-depth than its movie counterpart, and so there are some differences in the story because of it, such as Talia’s, Ra’s’s, and the Lazarus Pit’s role in Jason’s revival. I actually think Under the Hood is better than Under the Red Hood, if only because it has a lot more time to explore the story and characters. Nevertheless, you should definitely check both of them out.

1 thought on “Under the Red Hood Movie Review

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