Cosplayer San Smith turns in this fantastically comical and faithful to the character rendition of The Joker’s right hand girl, Harley Quinn, from the loveable Batman Adventures franchise. (Note the brilliantly built cork pop gun!)
One of the few Batman characters to first appear outside of the comic medium before being pulled into the comics as canon, Harley Quinn was introduced in 1992’s Batman: The Animated Series courtesy of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. Infatuated with the Joker (she was previously his psychiatrist at Arkham – as Dr. Harleen Quinzel), Harley is completely and utterly devoted to the psychotic clown, eagerly partaking in his schemes despite the horrible abuse she has to put up with from him.
Already a talented gymnast, Harley Quinn now finds herself immune to most poisons and toxins thanks to her contact with Poison Ivy, as well possessing above average fighting skills, agility and strength.
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harley_Quinn
Years ago, the Joker managed the unthinkable and killed the second Robin, a.k.a. Jason Todd. Time has since moved on, and although Jason is no longer with him, Batman has continued his never ending crusade against crime, with new partners and allies forged from the old.
However, something sinister is moving in Gotham, a new face, a villain wearing a red hood, who appears to be brutally taking control of all the gangs currently operating in the city, including the biggest of them all, the gang running under Black Mask.
Needless to say, this new villain’s trail of blood and headless bodies means that Batman will soon be on his tail – though unbeknown to the Dark Knight, this encounter is going to be stirring up some pretty dark secrets, and history, along with it!
Based on the classic “A Death in the Family” and “Under the Hood” storylines, Batman: Under the Red Hood is a 2010 direct to DVD movie released by Warner Bros. Animation, the eighth film released under the DC Universe Animated Original Movies banner.
Directed by Brandon Vietti and written by Judd Winick, this film is probably one of the strongest, darkest and most dramatic to come out of the line yet, packed to the brim with action, drama and a whole lot of secrets and unexpected twists.
Masterfully told and paced, with some great lines of meaningful dialogue between the various characters, Batman: Under the Red Hood is sure to satisfy just about any mature comic book audience.
In terms of animation, the movie boasts some slick and well designed characters, combined with great choreography (for the fight scenes), and a suitable color palette, all lending themselves to a visually enjoyable animated movie.
Similarly, the vocal talents of the actors used to bring the characters to life are all spot on, with the likes of Bruce Greenwood as Batman, Jensen Ackles and Red Hood and John DiMaggio as the Joker all producing great performances.
Finally, on top of all this, sits a fantastic soundtrack composed by Christopher Drake, the end result of it all being a highly polished, highly engaging, and highly enjoyable animated outing of the highest caliber.
Well, well worth picking up if you are either a comic book fan, or a fan of animated films in general then!
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Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman:_Under_the_Red_Hood
Absolutely fantastic animated television, keeping alive the awesome work laid out in seasons 1 and 2, and more importantly, bringing even more to the table with season 3. If you enjoyed the first two seasons of the Jeff Matsuda designed, action packed The Batman television series, then you can sit back happily in the knowledge that you’ll absolutely love season 3! (And even if you haven’t seen the first two seasons, you’ll still enjoy it, so no worries there either)
With season 3 we now have a Batman who has been at it a bit longer than the original season, meaning a more assured Batman, an even bigger arsenal of weapons, greater police trust and of course even bigger capers from his ever increasing Rogue Gallery, this time being padded with some new faces like Poison Ivy, Gearhead and Toymaker. (Of course, the regulars like Penguin and Joker are still thrown in there, so you don’t have to worry about that).
However, the element which elevates this season even higher than the first two is the introduction of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, the young, tenacious and more importantly, unwanted and unasked sidekick who slowly manages to worm her way into Batman’s crime fighting world, and in the process inject some light-heartedness into what was threatening to become a very dark show (even if it was known for including puns and one-liners before!).
(You might be wondering why Batgirl before Robin, but thanks to the legalities around him appearing in Teen Titans which was airing around the same time… well you get the picture.)
Although the series still doesn’t feature an overarching storyline structure and pretty much sticks to the villain a week format, at least it maintains its own continuity and events from previous episodes have consequences in the subsequent episodes. The writing remains as fresh as always, meaning capers which are bound to spring a surprise or two on you, and the action, adventure and witty banter are top class as per usual.
Jeff Matsuda continues to excite with his distinctive character designs which dictates the cartoony but very stylized look of the show, and the animation is fluid, colorful and well presented, even if it follows the model of simple is better.
And while the entire voice cast does a great job of bringing their respective characters alive, it must be mentioned that Rino Romano continues his excellent work as Batman/Bruce Wayne, and newcomer Danielle Judovits also does a fantastic job at capturing the tone of the youthful Barbara Gordon/Batgirl. In-episode music remains top notch and although the theme music we’ve enjoyed up until now in the form of The Edge’s Batman track has been replaced, the lighter 1960s-esque theme does a good job of announcing the slightly lighter tone of the new show.
Overall, it is very difficult not to like The Batman. The animation is unique and engaging despite its simple, cartoony lines, the action if phenomenal with some well written episodes, the antagonist characters are all appealing in their redesigns and rewrites, and the introduction of Batgirl opens up the franchise to even more viewers by making it a little more accessible to girls. Thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining and a definite recommendation to anyone who enjoys their animated television or just cape and cowl adventures in general!
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Batman_%28TV_series%29#Season_3
Lured by the promise of a very large mob heist stash, both the Penguin and the Joker make good their escape from the notoriously easy to break out of Arkham Asylum for the criminally insane. However while the Joker quickly gets taken out by the Batman, the Penguin suffers a far worse fate. Unwittingly unleashing Count Dracula, lord of the Vampires himself through a chain of unfortunate events, Oswald Cobblepot soon finds himself enslaved to the lord of darkness as he begins his quest to take over the city of Gotham – one body at a time.
Of course Gotham’s resident bat, The Batman can hardly overlook this new turn of events – but just how is the very human bat going to take on the supernatural king of all bats? It is a fight for supremacy with the blood of the very citizens of Gotham as the main prize!
Seeing as there is such a flood of direct-to-video animated movies being released nowadays, it seems pretty certain that DC Comics and Warner Bros. Entertainment has to push through a Batman movie in some fashion – pretty much as it has been doing all along these years anyway. So we get Batman vs Dracula, the latest in a long line of Batman animated movies.
Story wise, Batman vs Dracula carries all the story elements that makes a Batman story a Batman story. We have the necessary traditional super villains in the form of the Joker and the Penguin. We have the fist bruising fight scenes we have come to expect from Batman. We have the necessary detective sequences, the necessary dark shadow scenes and of course, the playboy romances associated with Bruce Wayne and whichever woman the story picks for a change. And obviously no Batman movie would be complete without some references to Bruce’s tragic past.
And because we are dealing with Vampires and Count Dracula himself, we get all the necessary vampire lore like the ridiculously effective garlic, crosses and sunlight. And the blood sucking of course, just lest we forget.
By now you might be seeing the point I’m trying to make. The movie peters out as a standard Vampire flick crossed with a Batman adventure, which ends up being pretty boring because it has been done before to death. Hell, even the way Dracula gets defeated is clich’. It is a pity really because I am a Batman fan, but the writing on this turns out very ho hum I’m afraid. Still, it is a classic yarn and I am sure that kids will pull the maximum enjoyment out of this one.
Interestingly enough, Batman vs. Dracula strays far from the now almost traditional Batman Adventures animated style, something that immediately comes across a little jarring to fans of the long running franchise. Instead we get a rounder approach to animation, though still maintaining the overly simplistic style associated with American cartoons (not that the movie was produced by American animators of course. As with most things animated these days, the movie was indeed farmed out to the Koreans for all the animated work). Computer colouring takes the fore as it does nowadays, breathing bright, colourful life into the scenes and although the animation comes across a little softer than what it should for an animated Batman, all the dark mood and tones of the story is effectively captured by the animators.
It is nice to note that despite the simplified lines, the animators have at least put a little effort into the female character models this time, a breath of fresh air when you compare it to the efforts we last saw in later release, Superman vs. Doomsday movie I reviewed a little earlier. Also, Batman does at least look pretty strong and heroic, despite the fact that he looks like he has a bit of a pudding bowl for a head.
However, the new, more bestial design for the Joker stands out like a sore thumb. A complete move away from the traditionally sophisticated yet mad villain, this version does the character an injustice and it is probably the most problematic design throughout the movie.
Designs and style shortcuts aside, the animation is however nice and fluid with good choreography, flawless cinematic tricks and neat eye candy, the movie is good on the eye and you’ll be hard pressed not to admire it for its flow and stylish beauty.
On the sound front the movie doesn’t disappoint either, with a gorgeously atmospheric soundtrack that befits any Batman movie. The voice acting while not bad, is again a little jarring thanks to the fact that no voices from the animated series reprise their role, leading to a bit of dissonance for fans of the animated series.
Overall, despite the fact that this movie treads well trod ground, and holds no surprises for the long time Batman or Dracula aficionado, the movie does a good job in tying these two long running mythos together and presenting a competent, enjoyable movie experience. It might not take any awards home, but it is a good movie and your kids are likely to enjoy it thoroughly.
Which is all that counts in the end I guess :)
Related Link: http://www2.warnerbros.com/video/batmanvsdracula/