A scene from BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD, directed by Brandon Vietti for Warner Premiere.

Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010, Brandon Vietti)

Apparently, given the chance, comic book writers write screenplays just like comic books. Sitting through Under the Red Hood is not an unpleasant experience–Bruce Greenwood, voice alone, is the best Batman since Michael Keaton, animated or actual–but it’s got an atrocious plot structure.

First, the movie would be unintelligible for anyone who didn’t read Batman comics. Screenwriter Judd Winick (who also wrote some of the comics this movie’s based on) has an endless amount of costumed characters show up. It’s firmly set in the comic book world, which makes it fail as a filmic narrative.

Fail might be a little harsh. Red Hood doesn’t succeed, but it isn’t Winick’s fault. Besides Greenwood, most of the voice acting is terrible. Jensen Ackles, voicing a grownup, evil Robin, finally answers the question about Batman and Robin’s sexual relationship–I’m pretty sure Cyrano never sounded as amorous as Ackles does when talking to Greenwood’s Batman. I wonder if they recorded together.

Even worse is John Di Maggio’s Joker. The character’s written as a lunatic, but Di Maggio plays a vicious thug instead, presumably a Dark Knight influence.

Speaking of influences, there’s a nice little homage to the Adam West show and lots of the production design owes to the Tim Burton films. It’s a very good looking animated movie when the poorly illustrated characters aren’t running around.

If it had just been a bit better plotted, it would have been much better. Still, might be worth a viewing for Greenwood’s performance.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Brandon Vietti; screenplay by Judd Winick, based on comic books by Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo, Winick and Doug Mahnke and on characters created by Bob Kane; edited by Margaret Hou; music by Christopher Drake; produced by Bruce W. Timm and Bobbie Page; released by Warner Premiere.

Starring Bruce Greenwood (Batman), Jensen Ackles (Red Hood), John Di Maggio (The Joker), Neil Patrick Harris (Nightwing), Jason Isaacs (Ra’s al Ghul), Wade Williams (Black Mask), Gary Cole (Commissioner Gordon), Kelly Hu (Ms. Li), Vincent Martella (Robin) and Jim Piddock (Alfred Pennyworth).

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