Written By Judd Winick based on the comic books 'A Death in the Family' and 'Under The Red Hood'
Directed By Brandon Vietti
Bruce Greenwood voices Batman / Bruce Wayne
Jensen Ackles voices The Red Hood
John DiMaggio voices The Joker
Neil Patrick Harris voices Dick Grayson / Nightwing
Jason Isaacs voices Ra's al Ghul
Wade Williams voices The Black Mask
Gary Cole voices Bobo
Jim Piddock voices Alfred Pennyworth
Superhero, Action, Animated
Batman faces his ultimate challenge as the mysterious Red Hood takes Gotham City by firestorm. One part vigilante, one part criminal kingpin, Red Hood begins cleaning up Gotham with the efficiency of Batman, but without following the same ethical code. Killing is an option. And when the Joker falls in the balance between the two, hard truths are revealed and old wounds are reopened.
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For a long time, 'Mask of the Phantasm' has been my favorite Batman movie of all time. It may be an animated movie but I still rated it above all others. Until now.
What we have here is a superbly written adventure that really delves in to Batman's psyche and also his past. Based on two classic comic book story lines, 'A Death in the Family' and 'Under the Red Hood', the writers have managed to blend the two stories brilliantly.
This follows the same sort of tone as the Christopher Nolan movies in that it is very dark and has massive flashes of violence yet that's where the comparisons end because this is most definitely it's own movie.
The cast is, quite frankly, perfect for this movie. One of the cast choices surprised me in all honesty. I waas really unsure when I saw that they had cast Neil Patrick Harris as Nightwing because I really wasn't convinced that he could pull off the character but his cocky and brash nature really gelled with Bruce Greenwood's tortured and hurt portrayal of Batman. Greenwood really brought his A game here and put across the fact that Batman is haunted by his past failings. It was a nice change to see him portrayed as human and as someone that could make mistakes instead of someone that would win no matter what as thrown at him.
The two standouts for me however were John DiMaggio as The Joker and Jensen Ackles, from television's 'Supernatural' as The Red Hood. Both played their characters fantastically well, especially DiMaggio as The Joker. I'm firmly in the camp that thinks the Mark Hammill voiced Joker is the best out of all the portrayals but here, DiMaggio really makes the character his own and portrays him as a criminal mastermind that is a genius under all the jokes and insanity.
Ackles as The Red Hood is absolutely superb, especially after it is shockingly revealed who the Hood's alter ego really is. He plays the part aggressively yet with such hurt and bitterness at everything that has happened to him that you can't help but feel some sympathy for the character. Considering all the chaos that he causes throughout the movie, that's not an easy thing to do.
I would be very remiss if I didn't mention the fantastic soundtrack by Christopher Drake. I would even go so far as saying the music choices are masterful in that they seem to fit the scenes perfectly and really punctuate the action. Even on the more reflective scenes Drake's music really brings home everything that is happening without you even being aware of how much the music is influencing you.
All in all, this is the best of the recent animated Batman movies that DC have produced and with an added Cameo by Bruce Timm, creator of the classic 1990's Batman cartoon and a cover by artist Alex Ross, this is most definitely a can't miss choice for all comic book fans.
Special Features 3/5