While wasting time before going to bed last night, I decided to browse Netflix and see if they had anything on worth watching in the Instant Queue. Never mind the fact that I have tons of movies in the queue to start with. I wanted to watch something that wasn’t two hours or more, so I went looking with that in mind. I ended up finding the Warner Bros. animated film Batman: Under the Red Hood. I wanted to watch that film anyway, so I was thrilled to stumble across it. The film features the voices of Bruce Greenwood, Neil Patrick Harris, Jensen Ackles, John DiMaggio, Wade Williams, and Jason Isaacs. I’ve always been a fan of the Warner Bros. animated movies, and I was looking to really sink my teeth into this one and see how it compares to some of the others that I’ve seen.
It starts off with a bang, as we get to see Jason Todd’s version of Robin (Jensen Ackles) in action. Unfortunately, he’s in action against the Joker (John DiMaggio), who has the upper hand – and a crowbar. We come in to see the Joker brutally beating down Robin, almost beating him to death. Of course, Robin isn’t going down lightly; in fact, he drubs him with multiple one liners to show that he’s not afraid of him. Overseeing all of this is Ra’s al Ghul (Jason Isaacs) who is wondering if Batman (Bruce Greenwood) will make it in time to save his trusted companion. If you know the story, he doesn’t. In fact, he gets blowed up real good. A grieving Batman is able to retrieve his body and give him a proper funeral. Back in Gotham City, a new vigilante known as Red Hood appears and starts taking over territory from the drug lord Black Mask (Wade Williams). Batman and his former teammate Dick Grayson – the first Robin, now fighting crime as Nightwing (Neil Patrick Harris) have to find out who this mysterious Red Hood is and determine whether or not he is on the side of good.
As Batman voices go, it’s usually Kevin Conroy first, and everyone else is a distant second. However, Bruce Greenwood does a very capable job as the Dark Knight. He has the same gravelly delivery that Conroy perfected, but he also gave him a bit of a tortured soul, an expression showing how disappointed he is that he didn’t protect those that are important to him.
Jensen Ackles became a favorite of mine from his short stint on Smallville as Jason Teague. I know he’s done well for himself with Supernatural, but I don’t watch that show, so I don’t have an opinion on it. I do have an opinion on his voice acting, though; the voices he provide are spot-on. There comes a certain point in the film where you really feel his pain, and that’s the mark of a great voice actor.
Neil Patrick Harris is a funny guy. Nightwing was a funny character in the DC lore. The two fit perfectly here. NPH is at his wisecracking best as his Nightwing pays the proper respects to Batman, all the while putting his own mark on keeping Gotham City safe.
John DiMaggio is an amazing voice actor, but he had some amazingly large shoes to fill. Like Bruce Greenwood, he had to step in and do a voice that Mark Hamill made iconic. DiMaggio’s Joker is menacing and utterly psychotic, and the glee his Joker takes in causing death and destruction is actually very scary. Some of his scenes aren’t for the faint of heart.
Wade Williams’ portrayal of Black Mask is as menacing as DiMaggio’s version of the Joker. The only difference is, DiMaggio’s Joker has a creepy laugh. Black Mask doesn’t laugh. Black Mask is more prone to knock you out than anything. He plays Black Mask as an utterly evil and vile character, not afraid to lay out his own henchmen with a well-timed punch to the eye. Ra’s al Ghul isn’t given a whole lot to do, but when he does, Jason Isaacs is able to use the screen time he has effectively. His exposition scenes are eye-opening.
The film is directed by Brandon Vietti, and he has excellent pacing throughout. The action scenes don’t seem to overdone, and the scenes without action seem to fit in quite nicely. The music by Christopher Drake isn’t too overblown, and it sets the mood perfectly every time. The animation itself is incredibly crisp, and nothing feels out of place.
I got a kick out of this movie. I like my Batman to be a bit dark and a bit deadly, and this fit the bill. I’m glad I caught this on Instant Queue, and there’s even a chance that I may just go ahead and pick it up – it was that good. It wasn’t the longest movie I’ve seen, so that may detract some people. All in all, it is a good way to kill an hour or so of time. I give this four dragon heads out of five, and I recommend it for any DC fans.
You’ll get a kick out of it.