Batman: Under the Red Hood

This is one of the very best Batman films ever made!

Batman_Under_The_Red_Hood_Robin

This animated film from the beginning starts with the Joker hitting Jason Todd, the second iteration of Robin with a crowbar. Robin is beat senseless before he is blown up by a bomb killing him just as Batman approaches the scene. The start of this film alone is the darkest opening of an animated film I’ve ever seen. Five years pass and Batman is still haunted by the memory of the event. Batman is more withheld and unwilling to take on help from Nightwing because of the loss of Robin against his new foes the Red Hood and Black Mask. The Red Hood is another mysterious figure that brings to light some twists in the Batman mythology, one that will shock you if you go into this film blind.

You will not forget this film because of the twists and turns, but you will also be surprised by the amazing performances in it too. John DiMaggio does an impressive take on the Joker that I’m surprised isn’t brought up when people are ranking the different iterations of the Joker character. I mean this Joker is intimidating in size and looks. With as much drama there is in this film, it’s surprising how dramatic it is throughout the entire runtime. It seems like they really perfected the form of these animated features with this film, and every film after should aim for this quality. The Red Hood is a key figure and watching this film as a companion to the video game Batman: Arkham Knight would be a real treat.

Batman Arkham Knight 02

Without spoiling any more on an animated feature with a runtime of 75 minutes. Batman: Under the Red Hood is a fantastic Batman one shot and the best DC animated film I’ve seen to date. You MUST check this one out!

Previously Batman: Year One

Robert Ring

Batman: Year One

There are so many of these DC Animated films that I’m expecting to come across a bad one, and yet here is another one better than the last.

Batman_Year_One_Gordon

Batman: Year One is a unique retelling of the Batman story parallel to Commissioner Gordon. This story shows Batman as he transitions from Bruce Wayne into Batman, and as Lieutenant Gordan becomes Commissioner Gordon. Throughout the feature, we glimpse the two evolving over a year starting from January all the way to December. However unrealistic that may seem, it probably does all those with OCD a favor in not going from say September to August. Still, it’s authentic enough. While the film is titled Batman: Year One, to me it’s Gordon’s film. We finally get to see why Gordon was made commissioner in the first place, and it’s a thrilling ride. At this point, Gordon is stirring up Gotham almost as much as Batman by sticking to his morals and not becoming a crooked police officer. From Batman’s side, we get to see how much of an amateur he was going headfirst into this solo crime-fighting venture. The two stories merry up and give us insight into why Gordon and Batman have a great relationship built on respect and understanding.

This is a must-watch for anyone that loves Batman. Hell, I thought it was just a great film and even persuaded my girlfriend to watch it. She loved it. Bryan Cranston voices Commissioner Gordon and I honestly think it’s one of my favorite roles from him and he has done so many great things. There is a great perspective of Gotham we aren’t normally privy to that lets us see what exactly the problem is with Gotham. If like me you always question why this city along with every other city never gets better with all the crime-fighting well this one helps uncover that question.

Batman_Year_One_Catwoman

If you have the Blu-Ray you are also treated to a 15minute short centered around Catwoman as she takes on a criminal circuit. Catwoman was in the movie and she was really cool so it was great that they included it. Batman: Year One is only sixty-four minutes long, so I think the Catwoman short was to make up for the shorter time of the feature. Alongside the short there is a documentary on the original graphic novel Batman: Year One by Frank Miller. It reveals what a turning point The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One had on the comic book industry as the baby boomers came back with these gritty and mature stories.

DCU Batman: Year One BD

Batman_YEAR_ONE_COVER

If you haven’t seen any of the DC Animated features this is a good starting place. You won’t be lost and it’s not a time sink at just over an hour. I highly recommend it.

Previously Batman: Gotham Knight

Next Batman: Under the Red Hood

Robert Ring

Batman: Gotham Knight

Batman: Gotham Knight is an anime-inspired collection of short stories that involve the dark knight. What you might not have known is that these stories were originally intended to be in the continuity for Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. They are supposedly set between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight as we see Batman learning his craft. If you don’t know this it’s not clear, especially watching it today when Batman has a common style across movies, tv shows, and games.

Check out the trailer below to get an idea of the style.

Each story is written by and directed by different people. Each individual brings a different style that culminates each story into an experimental package. In the first story, we see Batman through the eyes of some skater kids who each perceive what Batman is in different ways, and all are abstract. The second story follows two detectives that are handed a criminal that was brought into the station by Batman. One is a skeptic of Batman until they find themselves in the middle of a shootout. I would have loved if all six stories were similar to these two because it’s fascinating to see different viewpoints from the people of Gotham and what their relationship to Batman is. However, the next four stories give us interesting character insights into Batman. The third story, for example, shows Bruce Wayne getting a new gadget that shields him from bullets, but as Bruce finds there is a price to using this gadget. Each story is around fifteen minutes each and there’s something to adore from each one. Overall, Batman: Arkham Knight plays like a solid experimental film, more for fans than non-fans.

Batman_Gotham_Knight_001

This title was the first title from a boxset celebrating the 80th Anniversary of Batman. It contains eighteen animated films across nineteen discs. The special features on Batman: Gotham Knight includes a forty-minute documentary on the creator of Batman in Batman and Me: The Bob Kane Story. I found it really interesting to see Bob Kane was similar to his creation of Bruce Wayne in life, and he was just as big as a character as Stan Lee. So if you do pick up the Blu-ray check out that feature. There is another thirty-minute feature on the villains of Batman in A Mirror for the Bat, which is fine, but I didn’t learn anything I didn’t know already about them.

Batman_80th_Anniversary

I look forward to seeing the rest of the animated films from the DC Universe in this celebratory year for the Dark Knight.

Next Batman: Year One

Robert Ring

Spider-Man PS4 – Review

After Superman, Spider-Man is my favorite superhero. And if I’m honest, these were the only two I ever cared about. In recent years I’ve begun to enjoy Batman as well. This is in part due to the storytelling portrayed in a game much similar to Spider-Man, which is the Batman Arkham series by Rocksteady Games.

Playing Spider-Man, I couldn’t help, but compare this game to the Batman games. I think that it’s the same way we distinguish the Nolan Batman films as the high point of the superhero movies. It’s almost silly to compare those films to the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. That was my own prejudice on my part during my first half of the Spider-Man playthrough.

Spider-Man_PS4

Alright, let’s get on with it.

Spider-Man is an intellectual property that people are starting to grow weary of. It’s only the origin story. People don’t want to see Uncle Ben die yet again, likewise with Batman and the death of the Waynes. Spider-Man on PlayStation 4 by Insomniac decided to skip that part and put the player into the shoes of Spider-Man roughly a year into his powers. This allows for Insomniac to litter the game full of easter eggs that have taken place beforehand, and still be early enough into the lore to watch the origins of some villains. Most notably, Doctor Octavius who we meet in this game as our mentor and an esteemed scientist. Peter isn’t at the Daily Bugle; instead, he is working with Doctor Octavius to work on robotic engineering to help advance those with missing limbs with robotic replacements. That’s where Peter Parker spends most of his time. Parker has also been involved with Mary Jane, although we are not entirely sure what split them apart. As the story progresses, we learn of a villain named Mister Negative. Mister Negative is the overarching villain that is mysterious and unlike anything Parker has faced before. Mister Negative is after revenge against Norman Osborne and will do anything to get his revenge. There are plenty of villains sprinkled throughout the game. Most of them are humanized amid all the usual comic troupes.

Spider-Man_PS4 3

Initially, I may have been burned out by the nature of open world games, and therefore didn’t truly become enamored with the world at first. Sure, it looked good. I just wanted the open world to be revolutionized in this game. The side quests and challenges found all over the map were tedious to me and held me up from continuing the story. Maybe halfway through the game, the pacing got better between story missions and exploration. Once the story gets rolling it’s a roller coaster ride. I wish there had been more story towards the universally known Spider-Man villains like Green Goblin, but the villains appeared in a mostly boss fight manner. The sequel I suspect will do a better job at giving us more backstory into the Sinister Six.

Spiderman

The gameplay takes the Batman Arkham combat and gives it a shot of adrenaline. This was mandatory for Spider-Man. The combat is buttery smooth when you’re in the thick of it and you quickly get a feel for the controls. Most of the game lets you choose to take down enemies silently. I tended to get the first couple down like so before swinging in. There are also tons of gadgets to help you strategically aid you in combat. There are tons of costumes to collect that are usually rewarded with level progression. I unlocked everything, completed the entire game and even got the platinum trophy. Overall, this game has a lot of bang for your buck.

Spider-Man is a good game, not amazing. I think it’s been a little overhyped, but good nevertheless. I would say it’s a mixture of Horizon Zero Dawn and the Batman Arkham series. So if you like those games or even just Spider-Man, you’ll love this.

Robert Ring

Batman V Superman, and Suicide Squad Trailers

Just when I’m starting to get tired of comic book films we get the trailers for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. DC’s darker tones have begun to renew my interest in comic book property films. Ben Affleck as Batman is the part I’m most looking forward to. I mean he is an incredible actor and storyteller with an oscar for writing on Good Will Hunting and his direction in Argo won him Best Picture in 2012. Now we’re hearing he will be directing a stand alone Batman film too. This trailer for Batman V Superman looks badass, and this Bruce Wayne is full of rage. We also see Robin’s suit with bullet holes, so is he dead? Apart from not loving the film’s director Zack Snyder, I’m still not sold on Wonder Woman and I hope Doomsday is not in this film. Overall this is a great trailer.


Suicide Squad is a property that not many people, including myself know much about. The characters are all bad and are mostly unknown villains to the general public, so while we love the two characters going into battle in Batman V Superman we need to be given ample amount of back story on each of these characters. The tone looks great and believably from the same universe as Batman V Superman, while the Joker played by Jared Leto is tracing more of the iconic comic book style of his character. Batman is seen in this trailer as well and maybe he is getting revenge on the Joker for Robin, if he is in fact dead.


These trailers have made me excited and if I’m not mistaken the two films are only four months apart with a release for Batman V Superman in March 2016 and Suicide Squad in August 2016. Get excited!

Robert Ring

Batman: Under the Arkham Knight

Batman is busy these days with Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad in the pipeline for 2016 and the recent release of the critically received Batman: Arkham Knight game out now. It is unlikely that games will be mentioned much on this site, but it’s hard to pass up with the fine cinematic storytelling presented within the concluding chapter of Rocksteady’s Arkham Knight. The title of this post’s play on words is used because of the parallels towards the game and the animated film Batman: Under the Red Hood. Below is both a review of the game and the animated film.


Batman Arkham Knight 02
Batman: Arkham Knight

The game begins with the cremation of the Joker, and yes, the Joker is dead in this version of the Batman mythology. Instead, filling the shoes of the villain in this game is the Scarecrow and the mysterious villain the Arkham Knight. The Scarecrow with his fear inducing toxins unleashes chaos throughout Gotham City. Naturally Batman is exposed to the toxins which brings his greatest fear to life, the Joker. Seeing the Joker pop up and ridicule Batman from time to time is in fact is one of the most rewarding parts of the game. The Scarecrow makes each encounter filled with tension as the lines of reality become blurred. This game presents you with twist after twist and the revelation that comes with discovering the origins of the Arkham Knight is one of the best. The combat is perfect and this one allows you to take control of the Batmobile, which I found to be entirely satisfying from start to finish. Rocksteady knew this was their concluding chapter going in and they gave it everything they’ve got, so think again if you think every character is safe from death.

Batman: Arkham Knight does everything right from the scope of a cinematic film to experincing all Gotham City has to offer and story arcs that involve all your favourite villains as well.
4.5/5 – Stars

Batman Under the Red Hood
Batman: Under the Red Hood

This animated film from the beginning starts with the Joker hitting Jason Todd, the second iteration of Robin with a crowbar. Robin is beat senseless before he is blown up by a bomb killing him just as Batman approaches the scene. The start of this film alone is the darkest opening to an animated film I’ve ever seen. Five years pass and Batman is still haunted by the memory of the event. Batman is more withheld and unwilling to take on help from Nightwing because of the loss of Robin against his new foes the Red Hood and Black Mask. The Red Hood is another mysterious figure that brings to light some twists in the Batman mythology. The Red Hood is a key figure and watching this film as a companion to Batman: Arkham Knight will be a treat.

Without spoiling any more on an animated feature with a runtime of 75 minutes, Batman: Under the Red Hood is a great Batman one shot and the best DC animated film I’ve seen to date.

3.5/5 – Stars

Check out these two Batman stories while you wait for the feature films coming to theatres next year.

Robert Ring