If there is any genre that defines the term ‘hit and miss’ it is Animated Superhero… Well anything. Some of them are well done, well crafted, and works of genius that do not get the recognition that they deserve… And others thankfully stay in the realm of obscurity only to be picked up by a die-hard fan of that particular superhero or a child who wants to watch cool things happen for 25-75 minutes. It is a little frighting at times to watch a movie like this because you really do not know what you are going to get.
I heard about Batman: Under the Red Hood
from a friend of mine as we were having a discussion about the difference between the adult oriented live action films and the rather child friendly animated films. I was making the argument that animated superhero films generally do include child friendly premises while the live action films are packed with more adult oriented material which includes profanity and death. This film was presented as a counter argument to my statement and it intrigued me to say the least. I had never seen it before nor had I ever really heard about it.
I eventually found it while I was browsing on Netflix and decided to give it a watch just to see what I thought. I would not say that the film was horrendous as much as I would say that there were aspects of it that really dragged the story down as a whole. Which is really kind of sad because there are a lot of things that are solid about this film. But because of a few glaring flaws the film itself gets pulled down with it.
So with that in mind let’s have a look at Batman: Under the Red Hood
The Story is Solid
I do love the story. It is a very solid concept and a very enjoyable plot. The story in a nutshell follows what Batman considers to be his biggest failures, one being the creation of the Joker due to his own actions and more importantly that his recent version of Robin, a troubled youth named Jason Todd was killed by the Joker and Batman was unable to help him. All the while later down the line a new vigilante named Red Hood comes to Gotham and begins controlling the drug racket in the city and killing various villains… Granted none of these are big name villains but still there the stakes of a new vigilante with a different take on justice stepping in on Batman’s turf.
Just from my synopsis you are probably formulating the plot in your mind and odds are you are correct. The story is very good and does bring a little more emotion from Bruce Wayne other than ‘My parents are dead.’
The Film is Child Friendly BUT with Adult Themes
This film really does walk the fine line between child friendly and adult themed content and it is something that I love to see. Children are more resilient to things than adults give them credit for and in my opinion hiding them from the evils of the world is not helping them in their growth. But that is just me.
This film has drug trafficking, it has death, it has the concepts of dealing with death, it has blood, and torture. But at the same time it is child friendly. A child can still watch Batman be Batman without having to worry about scaring him because a little bit of blood or slight profanity shows up in it.
I hope that other animated superhero movies take this approach or take it more often.
Sub Standard Voice Acting and Visuals
It is kind of sad to pick on the film for this. It isn’t necessarily that the voice acting and the animation is bad… It just isn’t up to par with the Batman franchise which let’s be honest… Is some tough fucking competition.
The Burton and Nolan films as well as Batman: The Animated Series is some of the best stuff out there not to mention you now have games like Batman: Arkham Asylum and City to compete with. My God that is some prestigious shit you are working with there.
Ultimately though compared to the others the animation just doesn’t hold up. I feel like the characters are just not good representations to other media that presents them. Joker is the biggest culprit both in aesthetic as with voice actor. The character just doesn’t feel like the Joker nor is he what I think of when I hear the Joker… And in a way I can’t fault the voice actor. How in the hell are you going to compete with the likes of Mark Hamill, Jack Nicholson, and Heath Ledger?! Sadly the man just missed the mark and the animation as well missed it too, making the Joker look more like a mutated mob boss then the crazed sociopath that he really is.
Black Mask also looks rather goofy with some VERY pronounced cheek bones and strange facial features. He looks more like a morbid clown if anything.
If you are a big fan of the other franchises and odds are if you are watching this you are then you will find both the voice acting and the animation to be sup par to what you are expecting.
Too Many Villains!!!
I find this to be a problem with a lot of Batman related films is that they just have too many damn villains. It is easy to say that Batman has the most colorful cast of villains or at the very least the most well-known and recognized. Spiderman kind of competes with him on this level but really besides the others where the casual superhero fan can name one-three villains I could spend the whole damn day naming Batman villains. It is both what makes it awesome as well as its curse.
The curse being whenever you make a Batman film no matter live action or animated the question is… Which villain do you go with? There are just so many to choose from. The Joker almost always seems like a shoe in but what about Catwoman, Ra’s Al-Ghul, Poison Ivy, Bane, Two Face, Penguin?! There are just so many and because of this almost every adaptation I see brings in multiple villains… And the plot seems to suffer for it.
In this particular story Red Hood is the main villain but the Joker and Black Mask are also major villains in the story and Ra’s Al-Ghul does make a brief appearance. Take away the latter and you still have three villains that are contending with spots. Not to mention various ‘thugs and criminals’. Because of this Black Mask almost feels like an after thought and the story focuses on Red Hood and the Joker.
This always seems to be a ‘damned if I do, damned if I don’t’ situation for the creators of these films because so many fans clamor for their favorite villains to be in the film. Either they are not in the film and those fans become butthurt for it or they put them in the film and they are angry that they are now competing with five other villains that show up.
In my opinion I would love to see a Batman story that has the balls to say ‘we are going with one villain and that is it’ DEAL WITH IT! Granted some fans might get upset at this because there villain is not chosen but in the grand scheme of things I think it will make for a far better picture.
This film is meh. It isn’t wonderful but it does have some fantastic qualities. If you ever find it and have the chance to watch it, I say pick it up. You will be entertained. But I wouldn’t go out of your way to find it and don’t expect to be blown away.
Final Score 2.5/5
that does it for me. If you liked my review please like and subscribe for more and as always if you have feedback please leave a message on my Contact Me page.
Until next time, thanks for reading.