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With: (voices) Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles, John Di Maggio, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Isaacs, Wade Williams, Carlos Alazraqui, Robert Clotworthy, Gary Cole, Brian George, Kelly Hu, Phil LaMarr, Alexander Martella, Vincent Martella, Jim Piddock
Written by: Judd Winick
Directed by: Brandon Vietti
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violent content and some drug references
Running Time: 75
Date: 07/27/2010

Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Hood Guys

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This animated movie takes on some of the complex, ambiguous morals of recent efforts like The Dark Knight, and does a remarkable job of exploring some tough stuff in its scant running time of 75 minutes. It follows, however, that the movie is undeniable dark and violent, and deals directly with loss. It should be noted that this is not a family-friendly film.

The second Robin, Jason Todd, is dead. A dour Batman (voiced by Bruce Greenwood) shuns any other partners, including the original Robin, now called Nightwing (voiced by Neil Patrick Harris). A mysterious and most peculiar masked man, the Red Hood (voiced by Jensen Ackles), appears on the scene. He takes over Gotham City's drug business from a kingpin called the Black Mask, and offers the dealers a higher cut, but under the condition that no drugs are sold to children. Meanwhile, the Black Mask enlists the aid of the Joker (voiced by John DiMaggio) to stop him. Batman soon discovers the Red Hood's secret identity, making his battle much more personal. Can he stop the Black Mask, the Red Hood, and the Joker, all in one fell swoop?

Like the best superhero stories, this one focuses on characters and character history; each of the main characters has a pre-existing relationship with one another, making their meetings emotionally resonant. There's more here than just chases and explosions. Additionally, the filmmakers create an appropriately dark and mysterious atmosphere, bringing back some of Batman's mythic dimensions as a "dark knight" and a loner detective. In all, it's one of the stronger entries in the direct-to-video animated superhero genre.

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