..not as good as the comic

NerdDimension.Com presents the BATMAN: HUSH Film Review
by Talon

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.

Spawn – The Anti Hero we all love

Find out more about your favorite anti hero, how he was created and how big he was for comics.

Some history…

Growing up  in the 90s and 00s I was lucky enough to have spent my young and formative years with my head in a comic and good hip hop in my Walkman (a portable music playing device for playing cassette tapes). The 90s to me will always be larger than life production, gritty writing and an age of wonder to me. I mean consoles, arcades, new comics, tv shows and blockbuster action movies were coming out non stop. So before we get into one of the greatest anti hero’s of all time allow me to set things up.

In 1992 Batman: The Animated series was on the air which would later be the dubbed the best animated series of all time. Sega & Nintendo buttons were being mashed and Activision’s original company Mediagenic filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. This is the time in the aftermath of Frank Miller‘s legendary ‘The Dark Knight Returns‘ and Alan Moore’s masterpieces ‘The Watchmen‘ and ‘V for Vendetta‘ meaning comics witnessed a shift into more adult content with darker stories, sex and just grittier settings. Also remember that readers saw Superman die in 1993 and Venom get his own comic (interesting seeing as he was designed by Todd MacFarlane).  I say this so that a reader can attempt to envision the time and feel of that era that would later be dubbed The Dark Age or Iron Age of comics.

Todd MacFarlane and Image Comics

image-comics-logo
Image comics logo

Todd MacFarlane earned recognition first for his work on Marvel’s  ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ comic staying through the 80s for 28 issues and illustrated the first full appearances of the super villain ‘Venom’ as Edie Brock. The Canadian cartoonist and artist did not come out of nowhere, himself siting that he sent out more than 700 submissions in pinup size with next to no reaction from the publishers, mostly rejections. When he did get put on by the giant publisher he became a superstar in the world of comics. He would eventually part ways with Marvel due to their ‘work for hire’ policies towards their artists, in short they never got  percentages of sales or retained any Intellectual Property for the duration. Todd would join forces with other disenfranchised artists from the big publishers including: Jim Lee (X-men), Marc Silvestri (Wolverine) Jim Valentino (Guardians of the Galaxy) to name a few and veteran writer Chris Claremont (Uncanny X-men).  This group would reduce Marvel’s share price by $3.25 per share and they never turned back. Todd would mention in his own comics that he believed that artists deserved to be treated with respect by the publishers who made millions off their talent and not feel ripped off when a business relationship ended. Together Image comics would publish some of the best titles in comics including : Spawn, Witchblade, The Walking Dead and Saga. Image comics not only put out good product by renown artists but took a stand against corporations, their charter best says it:

  1. Image would not own any creators work; the creator retained it
  2. No partner interference either financially and creatively.

Enough said.

Spawn & Batman
Image Comics Todd MacFarlane

The birth of Spawn

After a life of full of murder, betrayal, pain and espionage serving his country he would get promoted to top assassin for the C.I.A. after saving the life of the president. Al is then murdered, by whom he knows not so during his journey through the inferno that is hell he makes one last plea, screams and begs for a chance to see his wife Wanda again. Needless to say making deals with demons never bodes well for the one signing on the line so Al returns to Earth, face looking like a badly burned burger drowned in scabs…yuck would be an understatement. Al is in a new body as his mind is tormented by flashbacks and memories of his great love. While trying to put all the pieces together he decides to crash in the alleys while becoming the protector of the homeless in the Bowery, a run down hood in New York. Gradually he learns he got stiffed in his deal returning 5 years after his death, his best friend knocked up his widow and he was celebrated a hero…I know, and believe me it get’s worse. I am trying to not spoil of the story or giveaway too much but I can say that every panel is worth the paper it’s printed on. Spawn means a lot to me because it challenged me as a young reader, opened my mind to new horizons concerning creativity and imagination. I mean hot angels waging war with demonic lords with New York City as the backdrop most of the time. Spawn fights Predators, Xenomorphs to Gotham’s caped crusader himself. Even the supporting cast are written well as you begin to empathize and relate to certain characters. Spawn is an ever evolving character and his universe is by far one of the most sinister in comics. Be sure to check out the first couple of issues and below I will include a link for you lazy cats out there who would rather watch the show. The movie was meh, but the HBO is a lot better and will give you a limited yet good idea of what to expect from the literature.

We encourage all our readers to supports publisher, designers and authors by at least checking out their sites if not through purchases.

 

MacFarlane

Image Comics