Batman: Under the Red Hood DVD Review


<div style="float:left">
<script type="text/javascript"><!--
google_ad_client = "pub-9764823118029583";
/* 125x125, created 12/10/07 */
google_ad_slot = "8167036710";
google_ad_width = 125;
google_ad_height = 125;
<script type="text/javascript"

DC Comics’ ventures into direct-to-dvd animated features have now reached the eighth instalment. There have been some very impressive stories told in this format, as well as some outright duds. What seems undeniable is that any inclusion of either Superman or Batman to these stories is a safer bet for the company, and they are paying attention—as all production companies that wanna continue do—to what sells. So we have the second solo outing for the Bat this time around, focusing on and combining a very controversial story from the 80s’ comics to a modern sequel recently released in the pages of Batman and Detective Comics.

I think most people, even those with zero interest in comics or superheroes, would know that Batman has a partner: Robin. But most people do not know that there have in fact been six Robins: Dick Grayson (the first and most well known); Jason Todd; Tim Drake; Damian Wayne, and, if you count short run or alternate continuity, there were two female Robins as well.

In 1988, the second Robin, Jason Todd, was a very unpopular character, and DC decided to put the character’s fate in the hands of readers, who were asked to call a number and vote on whether the petulant brat partner of the Bat would survive or perish from an encounter with the Joker. They offed him, and dead he was for 20 years. But like a lot of deaths in storytelling, it doesn’t always remain so—Jason Todd came back...

Under the Red Hood takes these two stories, separated by decades, and combines it into the story of the second Robin, his ascension to Dick Grayson’s mantle, his demise, and ultimately his return.

This, unlike the previous solo Batman flick: Gotham Knight (an experimental Animatrix styled outing), tells an engaging, and, for the most part, coherent story with one design/vision/presentation throughout. It immerses you into its world very quickly, a very high quality riff on the 90s’ Batman: The Animated Series, with great action sequences, fantastic voice work (in fact, Bruce Greenwood is a very close approximation to fan favourite Kevin Conroy as the voice of Batman) and good writing.

What is also apparent very quickly, and this is aimed at all these movies, is the difficulty in condensing these expansive stories, told in year(s) long arcs, into an 80 minute film. The sheer wealth of information, even to someone who has read the comics, leaves little room to digest all that is being revealed, let alone to emotionally connect with it. I believe less fidelity to the comics, less characters, and a longer running time might allow these films to really come into their own.

Special mention to the composer of this film, Christopher Drake, who evokes more emotion from his work (kind of a Zimmer-esque flavour from the live-action Nolan Bat-films) than any of the other elements.

All criticism aside, this is a good movie, and one of the finest animated Batman films ever made. But as these animated films progress, I hope the makers of them—a lot of whom are the makers of the comics as well—focus on making the story work in this medium, instead of trying to cram everything they did on their pages into a far too short running time... but they are definitely improving as they go along.

Component Grades
3 Stars
4 stars
DVD Experience
3.5 stars


DVD Details:

Available on DVD - July 27, 2010
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; German: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); Digital copy (as download)

Spectacular visual presentation, with the most depth and detail I’ve seen in a non-CGI animated flick. Colours are rich, blacks are deep; the sound is live-action quality at times. Special features are generous, including some educational featurettes on the first two Robins, a hell of a lot of peddling material for upcoming or already released animated projects, and a Jonah Hex short. Terrific package.


Commentary Track:

  • None


  • DC Showcase - Jonah Hex (HD, 12 minutes)
  • Robin: The Story of Dick Grayson (SD, 24 minutes)
  • Robin's Requiem: The Tale of Jason Todd (SD, 21 minutes)
  • Superman/Batman Apocalypse First Look (SD, 12 minutes)
  • Bonus Animated Series Episodes (SD, 88 minutes)

Trailers (SD, 29 minutes):

  • Sneak a peak at Zack Snyder's upcoming animated film, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, DC's Jonah Hex Motion Comic, and Ralph Bashki's The Lord of the Rings, and dig into extended previews of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Batman: Gotham Knight, and Superman Doomsday.