Batman: Under the Red Hood movie review

“I’m chatty – it’s part of my charm.”

Ah, Dick Grayson, the original Robin – even all grown up as Nightwing and voiced by Neil Patrick Harris in Batman:  Under the Red Hood – what a great character.  Watching Nightwing and Batman hopping around all over the place brought back found memories of Batman:  The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures even more so.  But that’s not where this movie opens.

Fans of the aforementioned series (not to mention the Batman comics) should be fairly familiar with all the characters accept the first hero we meet:  Jason Todd, the second Robin, who makes no appearance in either series, but is instead replaced by the third Robin, Tim Drake.  This might tempt me to go into a, “What’s with Batman taking scantly clad kids into battle with him all the time?” essay, but maybe some other time.  As the film opens, we are ‘treated’ to Todd’s death at the hands of the Joker.  If you missed this way back in the 1980s, Todd’s character was so unpopular that DC comics held a poll that would let the fans decide if Jason lived or died, and the fans chose to kill him.  The vote was close, but that’s got to be a blow to somebody’s ego, huh?

Spoilers ahead:

The movie skips ahead a few years and we find that the new criminal mastermind, The Red Hood, an alias once used by the Joker, has begun to consolidate his nefarious power through brutality and murder and is now setting his sites on the Black Mask, his competitor for control of Gotham’s underworld.  Now the movie makes no attempt to hide that The Red Hood and Jason Todd are the same person, as comic book fans already know this, and it doesn’t take the other characters very long to figure it out, either, as Todd wants Bruce Wayne to know it’s him.  The movie is really about two questions that Todd’s character wants the answers to:

  1. Is the brutal crime fighter/criminal he’s become his true nature, or did his lazarous pit resurrection drive him over the edge?
  2. Why didn’t Batman avenge his death and kill the Joker?

This is where the movie is going, and the questions it’s trying to answer, but only get an answer to one of them.  You want there to be redemption for Todd, but there isn’t any – he’s gone way past the point of no return, and the movie ends with a flashback to Todd’s first day as Robin, which he proclaims as the greatest day of his life.

The story is great, the movie is well paced, but its essentially a fan only experience.  Ra’s al Ghul is much different in the comic books than the character we met in Batman Begins, and the lazarous pit is probably hard to accept if you’re not familiar with the history of Ghul’s character.  The action sequences, especially the chance scenes, were a ton of fun.  I enjoyed the flashbacks and their attention to detail:  notice how the Batmobile is different in the past.

I liked this movie, I really did – but saying it’s a fun ride is probably not the right phrasing.  It’s sad at it’s core, and even depressing.  There’s no happy ending, justice doesn’t prevail and Todd doesn’t return to the Batman family at then end of the movie.  But it’s a good flick, and a must watch for Batman fans.  I plan on watching it again soon – that should tell you something.

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About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on August 12, 2010, in Batman, comic book reviews, movie review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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