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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Batman: Under the Red Hood is a fairly dark and violent direct-to-video animated movie in which Batman battles the Joker -- as well as some personal demons from his own past. Although the plot involves an organization of drug dealers, no drugs are mentioned by name, and no one is shown dealing or using. The violence includes brutal and bloody fights, guns firing, dead bodies, fighting with swords, explosions, and chases. The movie deals directly with death and loss and has some interesting ideas about where to draw the line between heroes and criminals, though Batman himself remains a rather complicated, tortured "good guy." Kids should stick with safer Batman fare, but teens will enjoy this one.
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What's the story?
In BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD, 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 (Neil Patrick Harris). A mysterious and most peculiar masked man, the Red Hood (Jensen Ackles), appears on the scene. He takes over Gotham City's drug business from a kingpin called the Black Mask (Wade Williams) 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 (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?
Is it any good?
Based on a Batman comic book storyline from 2005 and 2006, this movie gamely takes on some of the complex, ambiguous morals of recent efforts like The Dark Knight. It also does a remarkable job of exploring some tough stuff in its scant running time of 75 minutes. It follows, however, that the movie is undeniably dark and violent and deals directly with loss. In other words, Batman: Under the Red Hood is not a family-friendly film.
Like the best superhero stories, this one focuses on characters and character history; each of the main characters has a pre-existing relationship with the others, 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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Batman: Under the Red Hood's violence. How did it make you feel? Was it thrilling and exciting, or was it shocking?
Why does Batman blame himself for what happened to the Red Hood? Is he really at fault?
The Red Hood argues that by killing the Joker in cold blood, hundreds of other lives could possibly be spared? Is this a sound argument? Do the ends ever justify the means?
What distinguishes Batman from the villains he fights? He, too, is angry and dark; why is he a good guy and the others bad guys?
- In theaters: July 27, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: July 27, 2010
- Cast: Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles, John DiMaggio, Neil Patrick Harris
- Director: Brandon Vietti
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes
- Run time: 75 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violent content and some drug references.
- Last updated: September 24, 2020
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