Blu-ray: BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD (2010)
From Warner Bros. Animation comes another beautiful looking HD release. The most memorable element is the vibrant colors. Darkly lit sets often find their way to bright locations whether it be the glow orange ooze bubbling in vats or train stations. Flashbacks to happier times utilize a wider color palette, helped by the presence of Robin’s costume. I say this with every one of these DC Direct titles, but animation looks so good in 1080p and Warner Direct serves it up well. The picture is so crystal clear that it makes for increased engagement. The stormy title sequence looks amazing. Just seeing the episodes of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES on the disc one can see the difference high definition makes in picture quality. Now this isn’t a perfect release. There is some banding in backgrounds, but I never noticed artifacts, aliasing, pixelation or noise like I read in other reviews. But the problems are minor in the larger scope of the release.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is dynamic. I was impressed the directionality of the soundscape. Machine gun blasts sound like they’re buzzing past you. It really helps make the sound seem more robust than it really is. This isn’t the most immersive experience, but it feels like a full sonic world, which is important for animation. One element no one will miss is the LFE channel because it booms during explosions.
The disc isn’t overflowing with features, but this is a case of quality over quantity. The DC Showcase short JONAH HEX tells a quick episode involving the scarred Western bounty hunter. In 12 minutes, it doesn’t develop characters past types, but it certainly captures a nice dirty Western mood. Thomas Jane, Michael Rooker and Linda Hamilton provide impressive voice work. It’s too easy to call it better than the live-action HEX feature, but it does stay true to the character and has a beginning, middle and end.
The best bonuses are the featurettes. "Robin: The Story of Dick Grayson" talks with DC editors, Warner Premiere filmmakers and comic experts about the reasons behind the introduction of the Robin character. The 24-minute doc is detailed and captivating. I really liked how the character started for practical reasons, but morphed into an extension of the Batman mythos. "Robin's Requiem: The Tale of Jason Todd" delves into the development of the second Robin, Jason Todd. It goes into great detail about how the character's controversial death came about. Was it really a lawyer with an auto-dialer who killed Robin?
"SUPERMAN/BATMAN APOCALYPSE First Look" is a 12-minute sneak peek at the next DC Direct title. In the featurette, the filmmakers talk about introducing Supergirl to the world, the personality conflict between Superman and Batman and the handling of the production's look. The featurette is heavy on storyline discussion and far too slim on seeing actual finished footage from the production.
Additionally, the disc contains four episodes from BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES and THE NEW BATMAN picked by Bruce Timm and a slew of trailers.