Batman: Hush – Animated Feature Review

Batman: Hush
Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
Release Date: July 20, 2019 – Digital; August 6, 2019 – 4K Blu-ray, Blu-ray; DC Universe Streaming Service – August 13, 2019

Synopsis: An adaptation of the seminal DC classic tale, Batman: Hush centers on a shadowy new villain known only as Hush, who uses Gotham’s Rogues Gallery to destroy Batman’s crime-fighting career, as well as Bruce Wayne’s personal life – which has already been complicated by a relationship with Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman.

The cast for Batman: Hush includes Jason O’Mara (The Man In The High Castle) and Jennifer Morrison (Once Upon A Time) as the voices of Batman/Bruce Wayne and Catwoman/Selina Kyle, respectively. The cast also includes Jerry O’Connell (Carter, Billions, Stand By Me) as Superman, Rebecca Romijn (The Librarians, X-Men) as Lois Lane, Rainn Wilson (The Office) as Lex Luthor, Vanessa Williams (Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty) as Amanda Waller, Jason Spisak (Young Justice) as Joker, Peyton List (Bunk’d, Jessie) as Batgirl, Peyton List (Gotham, Mad Men, The Flash) as Poison Ivy, Geoffrey Arend (Madam Secretary) as the Riddler, Sean Maher (Firefly) as Nightwing, Maury Sterling (Homeland) as Thomas Elliot, Bruce Thomas (Legally Blonde, Kyle XY) as Jim Gordon, Adam Gifford (Longmire) as Bane, Sachie Alessio (Justice League Dark) as Lady Shiva, Stuart Allan (Teen Titans: The Judas Contract) as Damian Wayne, James Garrett (Batman: Bad Blood) as Alfred, Hynden Walch (Teen Titans Go!) as Harley Quinn, Chris Cox (Family Guy) as Scarecrow, and Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke, Teen Titans, Teen Titans Go!) as Reporter.

Director Justin Copeland (Reign of the Supermen) helms Batman: Hush from a script by Ernie Altbacker (Teen Titans: The Judas Contract). Jim Krieg (Batman: Gotham by Gaslight) & Alan Burnett (Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay) are co-producers. Amy McKenna (The Death of Superman) is producer. Michael Uslan is executive producer. Executive Producers are Sam Register and James Tucker (Reign of the Supermen).

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Batman: Hush Feature Review
By James Harvey

Adapting the fan-favorite comic storyline and putting its own spin on it, the DC Universe Movie title Batman: Hush is a solid animated adventure that dares to make some pretty bold changes to the source material. In fact, some of the changes actually improve the story in surprising ways, though at a cost. Further, Batman: Hush finds a the sturdy middle ground between being a comic adaptation and being part of an ongoing continuity narrative. While the animated movie doesn’t exactly hit it out of the park, it’s still an enjoyable animated feature that fans will likely enjoy.

Please note that this review will be as spoiler-free as possible. That said, there will be vague references that might be a little confusing. Those references will make sense, however, upon viewing the movie.

Anchored by some great character work and acting for Batman and Catwoman, played by Jason O’Mara and Jennifer Morrison, respectively, Batman: Hush is an enjoyable features with plenty of the great action you’ve come to expect from these direct-to-video titles coupled with an intriguing story. For those coming into this movie expecting an exact beat-for-beat update of the Batman: Hush comic book storyline, there will likely be some disappointment. However, those expecting the DC Universe Movie line’s own spin on the story will likely come out pleased with the end result. Not only does it solve some of the shortcomings of the original comic, but how it offers what feels like a more cohesive story. When comparing both, the four-color source material almost feels like a first draft when compared to the animated movie we get here.

The movie makes some pretty big changes that will keep viewers familiar with the Batman: Hush storyline on their toes and, personally, the changes are easily for the better. Not all will agree, but not only does it add a hefty load of character development to one of the film’s cast (no spoilers), but it results in an intriguing finale that works better than the source material. Would the changes work for the ongoing serial format of the comics? Likely not. But for a movie, even one taking place in an established universe? It works just fine. Besides, the reaction of the Bat-Family to Batman and Catwoman’s relationship is nearly worth the price of admission alone, and the nods to the ongoing DC Universe Movie continuity and its status quo is appreciated and helps gives the story some much needed depth and relevance (which means, yeah, making Batman: Hush part of said continuity was the right call).

That said, the movie does still suffer from a handful of issues. Like the comic itself, there are a few characters who appear in glorified cameos that don’t really impact the story in any considerable fashion. Harley and The Joker feel just as awkwardly jammed into the plot here as they did in the original story. Additionally, some of the changes the movie makes results in certain characters getting less screen-time than the story requires. It’s not a crushing blow to the film, by any means, but it does impact the overall narrative. To go into any further detail would tip into spoiler territory, and this movie is best experienced with an open mind and as fresh as possible. As with some of the previous DC Universe Movie entries, the movie’s running time does also impact the pacing of the film, as some events feel rushed through or pushed aside in order to get to the epic, bombastic finale.

And yeah, the climax is immensely satisfying and a solid wrap to this take on the Batman: Hush story. It wouldn’t work in the comic, but what we get here is a fun, massive set piece that both works and has emotionally satisfying consequences.

The movie’s strongest strength is how it leans into the relationship between Batman and Catwoman and uses that as the core of the story it’s trying to tell. Yes, the mystery of Hush is still paramount to everyone involved, but almost everything is done through the filter of how it impacts the relationship of the Dark Knight and the Princess of Plunder. In fact, the movie even shifts around familiar events from the source material in order to properly build and develop the relationship between these two and it works beautifully. Plus, it feels like there’s just more at stake, particularly the life these two characters are building together. It feels more immediate, even if the scale is much smaller compared to most other stories, and that much more important.

All of this is brought together under the watchful eye of Justin Copeland, whose directing is sharp, showing a keen eye on how to make the action beats punch and the emotional scenes connect. The climactic battle is especially well-staged as it bounces back and forth seamlessly between big set pieces and some more intimate feeling fisticuffs between Batman and his foe. With some help from the film’s storyboard artists, he’s able to rip some moments right from the source material without it looking out of place or forced.

O’Mara and Morrison easily have the film’s biggest roles, and carry them with ease. Their back and forth is charming and engrossing, and will have you rooting for Bruce and Selina’s relationship. Batman: Hush is chock full of great characters voiced by a mighty impressive cast, even if a good chunk of the roles are merely cameos at best. Sean Maher gets the most material to work with among the supporting cast and does an excellent job as Nightwing, and effortlessly brings out the character’s charm. Hush also comes off as a legitimate threat thanks to a great performance by the actor who shall remain nameless to avoid spoilers. Stuart Allan’s cameo as Damian is flat-out hilarious, while Rainn Wilson, Jerry O’Connell and Rebecca Romijn as Lex Luthor, Superman and Lois Lane, respectively, also stand out. There’s not a weak performances in the lot, with the only real complaint being how fleeting some of these appearances and performances are. Voice and casting director Wes Gleason is admirably able to juggle every single one of them without dropping a single one.

The animation here is serviceable for the most part, and occasionally sees a noticeable jump in quality during some of the film’s key sequences. Unfortunately, that means there are other moments that fall a little flat but the standard here is generally on par with most offerings from the DC Universe Movie line. Character designs by Phil Bourassa follow the established look set by the in-continuity DC Universe Movie titles (Justice League: War, etc.), and understandably so given the film’s budgetary restrictions and continuity placement, but the nods and homages to Batman: Hush artist Jim Lee are a nice touch. That said, Bourassa’s work never disappoints, and this movie is no exception. The score work by Frederick Weidmann is, to the surprise of absolutely no one, absolutely top of the line stuff. His work during some of the more quieter moments, especially, is really fantastic.

Batman: Hush will likely end up being a little divisive movie among viewers for some of its creative choices but, in the end, it’s yet another enjoyable entry in the DC Universe Movie line. It might have a few shortcomings, but those are minor compared to the chances it takes to stand up on it’s own, and it admirably succeeds at doing just that. The mystery of Hush’s identity nicely balances out the film’s deeper exploration of Batman and Catwoman’s relationship, resulting in that much harder of a gut-punch during the film’s final (and legitimately surprising) moments. The scene where we learn the mystery behind Hush’s identity? Just … awesome. While the film may suffer from occasional spots of weak animation and perhaps a few too many characters, the pros far outweigh the cons. This adaptation may not exactly be what most will be expecting when it comes to bringing Batman: Hush to animated life, but it shouldn’t be dismissed because it zigs instead of zags. It takes chances and, ultimately, is a better story for it. Recommended!

Hold up, the review isn’t done just yet! Click the link below to check out our thoughts on Batman: Hush‘s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release, including the attached DC Showcase Sgt. Rock animated short!

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[ Continue on to the Batman: Hush Home Media review ]