Film Review: ‘Batman: Hush’

Warner Bros. Animation adapt another popular Batman story for the latest DC Universe animated film… 

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The Dark Knight Detective returns in the Warner Bros. Animation release ‘Batman: Hush’ (image credit Warner Bros/DC Entertainment).

Spoiler-free review

Starring (voices):  Jason O’Mara, Jennifer Morrison, Jerry O’Connell, Rebecca Romijn, Peyton List, Geoffrey Arend, Maury Sterling, Rainn Wilson

Directed by:  Justin Copeland / written by:  Ernie Altbacker / 81 minutes

What’s it about?

Pitted against some of his oldest and most dangerous foes, Batman soon finds himself facing a new enemy – the mysterious ‘Hush’…

In review

Batman: Hush is the latest DC animated film from Warner Bros. Animation, based upon the popular 12-issue story arc (written by Jeph Loeb, with art by Jim Lee) from 2002.  “Hush” is rightfully considered as one of the greatest modern era Batman stories in which Bruce Wayne faces a gauntlet of villains and a mysterious new nemesis – a manipulative, bandage-faced foe known as ‘Hush’ – whilst grappling with stark revelations from his past and the complications of a burgeoning romance with Selina Kyle/Catwoman.

This direct-to-video animated adaptation is an enjoyable one, doing a reasonably solid job of translating the source material to the screen and neatly condensing its elaborate plot into a relatively short running time of 81 minutes (around average for the DC animated films).  Certain elements of the original story are either trimmed or cut entirely but Hush generally feels cohesive and flows steadily without rushing through the narrative or unnecessarily dragging its heels.  Certain changes are made in order to service the adaptation or for creative reasons (mainly to fit Hush within the mainline ‘DC Universe Movie’ continuity) but for the most part they add a freshness to the story for those who have read the comics.  There is, however, one particular alteration that is likely to prove divisive and although it works for the film it arguably robs it of some of the emotional power of the original comic book story – leading to a fairly satisfying but less weighty finale that doesn’t quite measure up to the source material.

As with the comics, Hush places significant focus on the Batman/Catwoman relationship and that plays out as expected, as do several key moments fans will expect – the highlights undoubtedly being that iconic Bat/Cat rooftop embrace, Batman’s ‘tussle’ with Superman – the closest we’ve ever come to the epic conflict in previous DC animation Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part II – and of course, the Batman’s ragingly brutal and bloody encounter with the Joker (pushing the film’s PG13/15 certificate rating).  The inclusion of Bane adds to the drama and adrenaline, although it’s a shame he’s not much beyond a dumb, musclebound brute here, although we are provided with a narrative reason for the character acting less “eloquent” than fans may be accustomed to.

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The Bat and Cat in ‘Batman: Hush’ (image credit: Warner Bros/DC Entertainment).

The voice acting performances are fine, if a tad unexceptional.  Whilst no Kevin Conroy, Jason O’Mara (in his fourth solo outing as the Batman, following Son of Batman, Batman vs Robin and Batman: Bad Blood) is non-the-less reliable in the central role of Bruce Wayne/Batman and Jennifer Morrison is equally adept at delivering the requisite slinky, feline quality to Selina Kyle/Catwoman and the chemistry between the pair is adequate if unremarkable.  Peyton List does well handling two completely different roles – Poison Ivy and Batgirl, Jason Spisak eerily channels Mark Hamill as the Joker, alas Bruce Thomas isn’t the greatest fit for Commissioner Gordon, nor is James Garrett as Alfred (to be fair we have been spoilt by some real star casting in those roles previously).  On the plus side, Hynden Walch is superb as Harley Quinn as is Sean Maher as Nightwing and Geoffrey Arend delivers a pleasingly menacing Riddler whilst Maury Stirling proves a good choice for Bruce’s childhood friend, Thomas Elliott.  There’s also the welcome return of Jerry O’Connell as Clark Kent/Superman as well as Rebecca Romijn as Lois Lane and Rainn Wilson is once again suitably devious as Lex Luthor.

The style of Hush continues the pseudo-anime design of prior DC animation releases which may not be to everyone’s liking but gives an established and consistent look to the universe, although it lacks the detail and craft of Jim Lee’s comic book pencils.  Director Justin Copeland keeps everything tight and focused and delivers some strong and well-staged action scenes which is no small wonder given his experience as a storyboard artist on previous DC animation projects including Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, The Death of Superman and most recently, Reign of the Supermen.

The bottom line:  Batman: Hush is another entertaining Warner Bros/DC animation release that, despite a controversial alteration, does a good job of adapting the iconic comic book story.

Batman: Hush is available digitally now with Blu-ray and DVD releases to follow in August.

Images used herein are utilised for illustrative purposes only and remain the property of the copyright owner(s).

15 thoughts on “Film Review: ‘Batman: Hush’

  1. Great review of Batman Hush! The DC animated movies continue to go front strength to strength with Batman Hush. Its a classic story and well adapted for this release, there’s some great action, and the animation is very good too.

  2. As a big fan of the comic storyline I’m anxious to give this a look. Alterations to the story do worry me but I still plan on seeing it.

    • I was okay with most of the alterations…mixed feelings about one in particular though which I won’t spoil. If you enjoyed previous DC animated movies then you should have fun with Hush Keith, especially with an appreciation for the comics.

  3. I haven’t yet had the occasion to check this one out but I do look forward to it, considering that the graphic novel Batman: Hush was incredible. I’m a bit skeptical with your warning about that alteration though. Is it as bad as the “added scenes” in The Killing Joke adaptation (Barbara’s backstory before the real adaptation began)? Great review, nonetheless, my friend. At least it’s not a complete flop.

    Have you seen the JL vs. The Fatal Five movie too? It’s also on my watch list but man… It wasn’t too tempting, to begin with haha

    • The alterations aren’t anything like the additions we got with the Killing Joke but…I have mixed feelings…on the one hand it adds fresh angles to a well-known story, but the comic book version is superior for reasons you’ll no doubt know when you give it a watch.

      I haven’t seen Fatal Five yet and to be honest I’m not all that enthusiastic about it, as much as I love Batman: TAS and what Bruce Timm and his team gave us with that, I’m not convinced that his later efforts are anywhere near as strong.

      • Ah man, I saw the movie and I’m a bit sad that they did Thomas Elliot like that. Sometimes I wish these animated movies weren’t all connected in that Batman and Robin universe they started a while back. I’m not sure it’s THAT rewarding to have all of them connected together. I mean, it’s not like they’re all leading to some kind of super epic cosmic event or anything. It just makes it harder for the stories to stand alone…

      • I wasn’t crazy about the switch but still enjoyed it overall, I don’t really have a problem with the animated films being connected but if they’re going to diverge from the source I just wish they had a good narrative reason for it…and I don’t think it was essential here other than to surprise fans already familiar with the comics.

        Anyway, here’s hoping the Long Halloween is handled well – that’s supposedly going to be in two parts and I think standalone a la The Dark Knight Returns.

  4. Pseudo-anime style is fine with me, as I am a shameless weeb. Changing the source material is always risky. I remember a lot of people hated Killing Joke because of the extra story they tacked on it. I liked it though.

    • I actually like the anime-esque style they use for the mainline animated films as it gives them a more mature and powerful, less ‘cartoonish’ look.

      The changes in Hush weren’t exactly necessary and don’t completely work but there’s also the sense of them being utilised to surprise viewers already familiar with the comics.

      With the Killing Joke, I think the problem, at least for me, was that it seemed tacked on with no significant throughline connecting it with the actual Killing Joke adaptation.

  5. It’s good to see that DC is still on top when it comes to their animated films. They’ve really set such high standards that their competitor could learn from if you know what I mean. 😀

    • I know exactly what you mean and I’ve often thought myself that Marvel are really missing something by not producing their own animated films…they’ve took a stab at it in the past and they weren’t very good, but, if they got a good creative team to head things up they could be great.

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