Batman: Under The Red Hood

Small Screen Specials, Series and Direct-To-Video
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Batman: Under The Red Hood

Postby GeorgeC » August 1st, 2010, 2:36 am

I tuned into this with lowered expectations, and that probably helped.

It's a better than average writing job for Judd Winick. If you're a WInick hater, be prepared to be surprised... He justifies his paycheck here.

The film is really not based on any specific comics... Much like Superman/Doomsday, it takes specific subplots and wraps a new story around ideas and concepts many people are familiar with. If you haven't read the original comics, good for you... This is actually written better and makes more sense than the convoluted junk that's been floating around DC for over 20 years now! :lol:

I guess having to work a story into 75 minutes of film instead of writing a six-issue story arc helped Winick focus on getting TO THE POINT. There was no time for him to politicize and do the knee-jerk bully pulpiting he has a tendency to do.

Production design was nice on the film even though I generally don't care for the character design on this and other recent works like Green Lantern: First Flight. A return to more stylized designs like Bruce Timm's would be nice.

This is probably the best Batman animated film since Sub-Zero but I still had basic problems with it...

... In many ways, this should have been rated "R." It's extremely violent, and there are scenes of teenaged Robin getting the snot beaten out of him by a crowbar-wielding Joker. While I don't find this Joker as annoying as the (IMHO) overhyped Heath Ledger Joker, it's still very disturbing to watch and realize this was a character created for a comic that was intended to be read by 8-10 year-old boys.

I've read those first Joker appearances in 1940/1941, and there were good reasons to tone the character down immediately afterwards. It wasn't until the 1970s that Joker reverted back to the ghoul he was in the first few Batman stories he appeared in.

In many ways, this is the Joker that today's Batman fans want. Great... if you're 25 years or older. Not so good if the audience is younger than that.

The other disturbing character is one supposedly killed off 22 years ago but inexplicably brought back by DC a few years back. Originally, Jeph Loeb wanted to bring "him" back in a Batman story arc called "Hush" but DC editorial at the time wouldn't let him. Winick got the okay to do this a few years later and it was one of the lamest and most contrived character revivals in recent history. At least the mechanism Winick uses in the film is nowhere near as dumb as "punching walls through time and space." The film revival mechanism actually would have worked better in the original comics, too, if anybody had been bright enough to approach it that way!

This is definitely not a family film and anybody with young kids should practice responsibility and lock the film up-and-away from them or not buy it.

********

I have less reservations with Jonah Hex.

Hex is SUPPOSED to be an adult character. The short's probably better than the live-action film which died quickly and is another solid entry in the DC Shorts library.

For me, it's a toss-up between whether this or the Spectre short was better. They're both excellent shorts and show a lot of Japanese influence in basic animation and aspects of design.

These shorts just couldn't be done completely in North America. It would eat up the budgets WB put aside for the films -- Yes, the shorts would cost at least as much as the 75-minute films if they were completely done in the the US or Canada!

There's excellent voice talent in both the Hex short and Batman/Red Hood.

As far as I'm concerned, Bruce Greenwood could take over for Kevin Conroy or alternate the Batman every other film with Conroy from now on... He's definitely got the vocal quality for Batman and might be a good consideration for a special Batman story. Thomas Jane was also effective as Jonah Hex. DiMaggio is serviceable as The Joker but I still prefer Mark Hamill and the actor who performs The Joker on Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

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Postby Randall » August 1st, 2010, 8:57 am

I think we had similar experiences with this film. I was prepared to hate it, but found it surprisingly well-written, and way better than what little of the story I had read in the comics. Greenwood is indeed very good, and I even appreciated the change of pace with The Joker. And don't forget that Doogie was very affable as Nightwing, too!

I actually managed to post this review just before the movie's premiere at Comic-Con:
http://animatedviews.com/2010/batman-under-the-red-hood/

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Postby GeorgeC » August 3rd, 2010, 4:24 am

Don't be surprised that there are already people hating this, Rand.

There are Bat-fans that just can't get it through their heads that Timm & Co have every right to cast other actors as Batman and The Joker!

I was reading a specious argument about this on ASiteCalledFred (formerly ViewAskews or something like that) and it makes you wonder about the mentality of the guy who wrote that.

http://www.asitecalledfred.com/2010/07/30/shopping-guide-2010-07-30/

It's one thing to hate something because you don't like the story or animation, it's another to dismiss it because of "stunt-casting" and the fact that it doesn't feature your favorite "dude" as Batman!

For one thing, to call the Red Hood voice casting as "stunt casting" is a big stretch. Most of the actors cast in the roles are B-list at best; many of them are better known for TV work and here's nothing wrong with that. Joe DiMaggio is best known as Bender in Futurama; Neil Patrick Harris couldn't get away from Doogie Howser, MD if he wanted to => he's got a boyish face, too!

(I can't understand the entertainment industry hypocrisy vis a vis TV work versus film work = as if film work is better-written nowadays{!} and justifies its salaries for "pretty faces"! Voice talent, unless you're on The Simpsons, don't make anywhere near those outrageous salaries.)

As much as I liked Greenwood in Star Trek, he isn't A-list, either. He's just a darn good actor!



P.S. -- To pour more p!ss on the Cheerios of the ViewAskew crud, it's already been confirmed that Bruce Greenwood is voicing Batman again for an episode of Young Justice.

Why anybody is calling a new series Young Justice is beyond me... That comic's been dead for over 5 years. Would make more sense to call it Teen Titans since that's where all those characters show up in every month now! Never should have been a Young Justice in the first place. It should have been Teen Titans from day one...



P.S. P.S. -- Of course, it could be said that the "iconic" voices of Batman and Superman deserve to be cast in better projects than the likes of Public Enemies, Apocalypse, and Brainiac Attacks.

(At least Conroy got to show he could do more than one Bat-voice in Batman: Gotham Knight.)

Sometimes it's just not in the cards for either Conroy and Tim Daly to get the better scripts.

Maybe there's a Kingdom (Come) in their future?

I'm amazed that the cruddier stories of the past five years get the red light and we're not really seeing iconic stories getting adapted aside from the TV shows.

iconic - def. Any story that has stood the test of time for at least 14 years, safer to say at least 20 years

Iconic Stories by any safe definition (order does not reflect personal favorites and any particular ranking); * = NOT gonna happen for logistical/$$$ and continuity reasons;
DOA = dead on arrival as an animation project; too many good reasons NOT to do it!
(1) DOA but iconic > Crisis on Infinite Earths *
(as messed up as DC Continuity is, the company would be better off burning the film negatives for this and just pretending it didn't happen; created more headaches than it's worth! Great show-off of artwork for Perez and it has some of the best covers ever created but man did it create more problems than it was worth!)
(2) DOA but iconic > Watchmen; live-action film and ultra-negative fan reaction killed any incentive to do this
(3) The Flash of Two Worlds => we're not gonna get the best Flash story ever done because it makes too much sense and the character just isn't that popular to begin with
(4) Crisis on Two Earths, a proper JLA/JSA crossover * Character logistics just kills this and it's been done twice between Justice League: The Animated Series and the Justice League film
(5) Green Lantern > I've never read a good solo story of this character prior to the last 6 years; even then I wonder if there's really been a GREAT GL story worth animating; you can pretty much bet the meat of the last two major GL crossovers (prior to "Brightest Day" aka "Endless Killing in the DCU" courtesy of Geoff Johns) is being written into the first movie by what I've read of the plot...

My bets are on Dark Knight or Kingdom Come eventually being done as films.

Will they be long enough to do the source material justice or make something epic out of overrated material (Dark Knight is overrated IMHO)? Maybe if someone coughs up enough cash to do at least a 90-minute adaptation...

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Postby Ben » August 4th, 2010, 6:47 am

Briefly off-topic, but the E4 channel here have only just got around to showing season 8, I think, of Smallville. I know it doesn't always get a lot of respect, but they're doing some great things on there that send little chills down the spine every now and then. Sure, it's still filled with a bit of padding, and they're plagiarizing the DC universe for characters and other stories, but the Justice Society of America plot that came into it last night here (probably old now for you guys) was really nicely done.

Yes, a blatant Watchmen scenario in execution as well as "history" and plot, but just so well done - as always for Smallville - that I really didn't mind. And any TV episode that leaves you with a big smile on your face at the end of it can't be bad! I hope someone sees sense and picks up Welling for the cape in the movie reboot. By the time that comes around he'd be perfect for the role, quasi-continuing both Smallville and the general Superman mythos into the new features.

Anyway...thought I'd just throw that in! ;)

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Postby GeorgeC » August 4th, 2010, 8:46 am

Eh,

Not so much of a Smallville fan (although Erica Durance is easy on the eyes and the best-looking Lois to date!) but nice to hear you're finding something to like in that show.

Frankly, I think it's silly that it's lasted ten years and really needs to close the on this chapter of Superman.

There's a point at which he just NEEDS to leave home and put on the darn costume already...!
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Postby Ben » August 4th, 2010, 1:27 pm

He left home long ago, George. It may as well have been called Metropolis for the past three or four seasons! I think they should end it (as they said they will do) next season, and then let Welling fill the suit for the movies, which suggest Superman is already on Earth without any origin story recap.

That wouldn't be saying that Smallville is the precursor to the new films, but would work either way. Whatever and however, Smallville has been, on and off, the most consistent way that the small screen has ever handled classic superhero material.

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Postby Randall » August 5th, 2010, 12:47 am

Smallville has had moments of greatness, mixed in with some cheese, and overall I'm glad to have kept up with it (though I am behind, only just watching Season 7 now; I got behind when we had a baby!). I've gotten some of those same chills Ben mentioned, and can't wait to get to the Legion of Superheroes and JSA episodes. And next year---- Darkseid!!

It bothers me sometimes that the show has wandered so far from the comics' chronology (i.e. introducing Lois and Jimmy too early), but one just has to go with the flow. Things might still line up okay in the end, anyhow.

When things do go right, the show can be magical. One just has to put up with a number of clunkers, and (for quite a while there) the seemingly never-ending Clark-Lana story. Having recently watched the whole Lana-Lex wedding epsidoes, though, I have to say that it was handled far better than I expected it to be.

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Postby eddievalient » August 5th, 2010, 9:41 am

I'm a big Smallville fan and I've always thought of the show as, essentially, "Ultimate Superman". As such, I think that, overall, they've pulled it off spectacularly well. I, for one, hope that after the show ends, they can produce some big screen Smallville movies (considering how good the special effects are on the show, they could get away with doing a lowish budget film). It's a shame their Aquaman series didn't get picked up because the pilot was excellent. Ah well, spilled milk.
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Re:

Postby Ben » August 6th, 2010, 5:56 am

Randall wrote:It bothers me sometimes that the show has wandered so far from the comics' chronology (i.e. introducing Lois and Jimmy too early)...

For everyone else who will get this: ;)

Rand...you have a lot of catching up to do! :)

Eddie...glad to find another fan. Smallville gets more right than it does wrong, and they've done brilliantly to keep a top-rating show going for so long without, actually, jumping the shark, whatever ingredients they've introduced. I think it will end up all okay, though whether that's okay for Superman chronology or *Smallville* chronology, that remains to be seen. Hopefully they have a way to sign off on the show that leaves it "open" for the rest of the Super-mythos to slot in however one wants to read into it.

My biggest concern right now, is that Clark isn't wearing the specs yet...and it's going to be very soon that he'll have a much-needed costume change and the "Clark Kent wears glasses / Superman doesn't wear glasses" scenario won't be as effective for him as opposed to the comics when he and his specs were both new to Metropolis. But I'm thinking that we'll have to take it with a pinch of salt and just go along with the conceit anyway. I think they're going to leave a lot open for the fans to fill in towards the end, which is also fine by me!

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Re:

Postby EricJ » August 7th, 2010, 1:20 am

Randall wrote:Smallville has had moments of greatness, mixed in with some cheese, and overall I'm glad to have kept up with it (though I am behind, only just watching Season 7 now; I got behind when we had a baby!). I've gotten some of those same chills Ben mentioned, and can't wait to get to the Legion of Superheroes and JSA episodes. And next year---- Darkseid!!


But when we got an episode with the Wonder Twins....that's when we know that Warner's half of DC just CAN'T let go of their old Cartoon Network/Superfriends demons. :(