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BATMAN: HUSH Film Review

by Talon

Batman: Hush is an animated film by Warner Bros. Animation based off an 8 issue Comic Book story arc of the same name written by Jim Lee & Jeph Loeb which ran from 2002-2003, the feature directed by Justin Copeland was premiered at San Diego Comic-Con of 2019. The leads of the film are voiced by Jason O’Mara, Batman, & Jennifer Morrison voicing Selina Kyle aka Catwoman.

Jeph, Justin, Jim, Jennifer and Jason

Right to Left: Jeph Loeb, Justin Copeland, Jim Lee, Jennifer Morrison & Jason O’Mara

This adaptation leaves much to be desired by true fans of the source material but will likely appeal to those new to the story as the writer and film team have taken liberties and creative licenses as with most movie adaptations today, especially comic related ones. Judging the film on its own merits Batman:Hush is good but not as good as the comic.

For those who are not familiar Batman: Hush is one the most popular and critically praised graphic novels of all time but most certainly of the last two decades (IGN Ranking it 11th in their top 25 list) evidenced by the first issue having 113,061 pre-orders in October 2002 placing it at the peak of the Top 300 comics charts. Going into the project Loeb, a fan favourite having done justice to the character in previous iterations, this time teamed up with maestro artist Jim Lee by both shaking up the status quo and making a few unexpected decisions creatively they succeeded in creating buzz and controversy .

comic cover hush

Original Comic Book Cover of Batman: Hush

Returning to the animation, DC has been consistent with its art style since the Flashpoint offerings creating a sort of baseline to illustrate the connectedness of the different films. This isn’t bad, but the style isn’t up to snuff compared to Batman: The Animated Series or Jim Lee’s masterful pieces in the original comic. This movie like countless other adaptations and reboots of the last decade plus suffers from the animation writing staff putting their own touches on the story. This approach hasn’t made great projects where possibly Teen Titans: The Judas Contract and The Death of Superman are exceptions which reinforce the rule. Unfortunately most writers make big alterations to great stories in an attempt to keep the story ‘fresh’ to fans who know the original story, whilst this can work in seldom cases it did not by and large in the New 52 era or for writer Ernie Altbacker in the case of Batman: Hush.

BTAS, TEEN TITANS DEATH OF SUPES

Left to Right Box Art of Teen Titans The Judas Contract, Batman The Animated Series & The Death of Superman

The film begins with Bruce Wayne making an appearance at an evening banquet where he bumps into an old school friend Thomas Elliot (Maury Sterling) and sees Selina Kyle which gets him thinking about giving their relationship a shot again.

Shortly thereafter he stumbles upon a conspiracy involving a kidnapped young boy who is being held by Bane (Adam Gifford), as he foils the plot Catwoman makes away with the ransom money promptly delivering it to Poison Ivy (Peyton List).

As Batman attempts to catch Catwoman his grappling line is torn by a sniper shot from the titular villain sending Batman crashing to the street. Luckily there are some good people to stave off encroaching threats.

Bruce decides to begin dating Selina, and when they attend the Opera the are met by Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch) who claims that she must kill Bruce Wayne in order to free her boyfriend The Joker (Jason Spisak).

To spare you readers as many spoilers as possible I ll just add that yes Catwoman and Batman get involved, yes.

Ernie, and Co

Left to Right: Ernie Altbacker, Jason Spisak, Maury Sterling, Adam Gifford, Peyton List & Hynden Walch

In essence the viewer is treated to large portion of the classic Batman rogues gallery thanking to the stratagem of Hush, a new player on the scene who is mind controlling the lot of them. The cast is solid but both leads would have been better served if they were voiced by Kevin Conroy & Adrienne Barbeau respectively. Other welcome voices to the troop to reprise their roles would have been Arleen Sorkin as Harley, Mark Hamill as The Joker, Loren Lester as Dick Grayson/Nightwing and Richard Moll as Harvey Dent.

Conroy & Co

From Top Left to Right: Adrienne Barbeau, Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Arleen Sorkin & Loren Lester.

Fans of the source material will not be thrilled by certain changes made to the story, most being trivial and unnecessary (like switching Killer Croc with Bane or Huntress with Batgirl which basically ends Oracles role in the story) which eat away at the robust story itself but one which probably does detract from the story is the love affair between Bruce and Selina taking centre stage more so than in the comic books. Whilst this is the only aspect which is perhaps an improvement on the source material, the movie is not called Catwoman & Batman but Batman: Hush. That being said Damian Wayne’s (Stuart Allen) response to the pairing is probably the most memorable moment of the feature. Most changes feel to have been done to make the film fit in the current DC Animated universe, much like what Marvel has been doing the last decade or so, but with source material as strong as this is clearly not the best idea.

DAMIAN WAYNE CHAT

Screenshot of Damian Wayne played by Stuart Allen

The animation does feel a little generic and the above average fight scenes do not mask the misstep. Another thing I feel old school fans will be disappointed by is the seemingly forced use of profane language in an attempt to make the feature edgier, as is the sexual innuendo which feels static as it suggests O’Mara and Morrison lack adequate chemistry to pull off the romance in a believable manner.

The ending itself feels rushed and leaves one feeling anticlimactic and that the huge choices Batman made throughout the film are insignificant, which they are not. This story arc could have been better served if they spread the story into a two feature series or even three, instead we are left with numerous red herrings and you simply don’t feel Hush is a worthy opponent of the caped crusader.

This movie, unlike the beginning of Warner Bros. Animation, suffers from what most movies suffer from – too much meddling with what works. Batman: The Animated Series was a watershed moment and a classic which stands out today just because Jean MacCurdy (the company in this instance) allowed the creative team of Bruce Timm, Paul Dini & Mitch Brian to do what THEY felt was BEST.

WB DREAM TEAM

The Warner Bros Animation Dream Team Left to Right: Jean McCurdy, Bruce Timm, Paul Dini & Mitch Brian

This feature much like most films inspired by comics feels like making money was far and wide the top priority which there is nothing wrong with but by banking on an existing fan-base to support it without giving any fan service in return doesn’t seem fair. It is likely a sign of the times where everything must appeal to as many consumers as possible disrupting the organic quality of the storytelling in the process.

The animation is crisp and presented in 2160p in the Blu-ray and the DTS-HD 5.1 audio is just as quality so that is alright.

In closing its nice to see that DC continues to bring back some classic stories into the animated realm, unfortunately like others they are guilty of trying to ‘fix’ a working recipe. The original comic arc was built on a clever detective story, provided interesting plots twists and intelligent characterization from the writer and stellar artwork by the illustrator making it a classic which is still impressive today.

Worth praising is DC’s attempt to create a semblance of a continuity but I feel most fans would rather not have this done at the expense of the source material. The worse thing I felt upon finishing the film, and days later, was how generic it felt. As a big fan of Batman this leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Batman: Hush will most likely appeal most to casual fans and a public which have no foreknowledge of the comic, as it is a good animated feature but for true fans of the original work who have been waiting for it to grace the small screen format it will very likely be a serious disappointment.

We give this film a score :

2.5 / 5

All images used are property of DC Comics, StarReel Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation, Atlas Oceanic Sound & Picture, NE4U, Salami Studios and their associate/affiliates as well as numerous media outlets and I claim no rights over them.