• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

Batman: Under The Red Hood

TITLE: Batman: Under The Red Hood

YEAR: 2010

GENRE: Superhero/Comics and Animation

Nothing drives a comic book fan more crazy than when well-known stories of their favorite superheroes are butchered by some screenwriter in Hollywood who believes they know more about a character than the die-hard fanatics who have been reading the printed stories for decades. Fortunately executive director Michael Uslan learned that lesson for the Batman franchise after the abysmal Batman And Robin he helmed in 1997, and ever since has been quite faithful to the current dark and gritty comics of the Dark Knight. When Uslan brought in Judd Winick, the original writer for the “Under The Hood” series in the monthly Batman series of comics, to write the screenplay and act as a creative consultant it gave great hope that Batman: Under The Red Hood would be a better than average superhero offering. This proved to be more than true, as Batman: Under The Red Hood is an exciting story with a gloomy and cerebral approach.

An aging Batman/Bruce Wayne (voiced by Bruce Greenwood) is still reeling from the death of the second Robin Jason Todd at the hands of his arch nemesis The Joker (John DiMaggio) five years previous. A shadowy figure named The Red Hood (Jensen Ackles) has stepped into Gotham Cityand has shaken the drug trade to its core, taking 40% of the take from cooperative drug dealers and killing off any to choose to be uncooperative or ally themselves with competing drug kingpin Black Mask (Wade Williams). Batman is assisted by Nightwing (Neil Patrick Harris) in their investigation of the Red Hood, and the twosome discover that their newest nemesis has been trained in combat and fighting as well as they have been. Batman knows that the Red Hood must be stopped quickly, as Black Mask has helped The Joker escape Arkham Asylum to eliminate the upstart. However, Batman discovers that the Red Hood is a literal ghost from his past and will take all of his skill and fortitude to neutralize the threat.

What makes Batman: Under The Red Hood work so well is a combination of an intense, well written, and deep storyline and a group of voice actors to bring the characters to life in vivid detail. Winick does a wonderful job combining the intense and continual action with a  cohesive and in-depth storyline the develops well despite its complexity. The film is only 80 minutes yet seems a lot shorter as the action is intense and moves at a  fantastically quick clip. The voice acting is also superb especially Greenwood as the brooding superhero and DiMaggio as an over the top and sadistic Clown Prince of Crime. The prelude scene where The Joker beats the second Robin into a bloody pulp with a crowbar is especially intense and DiMaggio is fantastic as he changes his vocal tones from a sinister quiet to a crazed cackle at the drop of a hat. The animation is dark and gothic looking and has some special scenes especially when The Joker drops a cigarette lighter into a semi-truck filled with criminals and gasoline and when Batman jumps through the doors of an airborne car. The ending is especially dark and cryptic when in a flashback scene Jason Todd dons the Robin outfit for the first time, jumps on top of the Batmobile, and states “This is the greatest day of my life.”

Just because a movie is animated does not mean it is family-friendly fare, and Batman: Under The Red Hood is definitely not for the kiddies so if you are looking for a Batman adventure for the pre-teen crowd stick with the TV shows “Batman: The Brave And The Bold” or ‘The Batman”. That being said, more adult fans will absolutely love Batman: Under The Red Hood for its excellent writing, faithful rendition of the original story, and very good voice acting. This film is right up there with Wonder Woman and Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm as one of DC Comics’ greatest animated comic book adventures and is heartedly recommended for the more adult comic book purists.

* * * * 1/2

–Mark

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