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Batman: Hush (Blu-ray Edition) Review

August 12, 2019 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Batman: Hush
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Batman: Hush (Blu-ray Edition) Review  

The Batman: Hush storyline was an action-packed, hard-hitting Batman story that ran for 12 consecutive months from 2002 to 2003 in the pages of the Dark Knight’s eponymous DC Comics title. Featuring the writing talents of Jeph Loeb and the iconic artwork of Jim Lee, this was a powerhouse creative team pairing to be working on such a big storyline for a major marquee character like Batman. Loeb had gained a lot of cred in the comics community at the time for his work on seminal Batman stories The Long Halloween and Dark Victory, which featured one-year maxiseries-format stories around compelling central mysteries. When the Hush storyline was first released, I couldn’t miss an issue. It felt like the Batman story I had been waiting years for. However, the story eventually petered out in its back half and had a rather underwhelming finish that left me rather cold on it.

Now, DC Entertainment has opted to produce a feature-length animated movie based on the iconic story set in the DC Animated Movie Universe. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided 411 with a review copy for the film.

The Movie: Obviously, adapting a lengthy story such as Hush is a bit challenging, but the staff at DC Entertainment did a fairly good job here condensing the broad strokes into an 82-minute film. I think it could’ve maybe used a bit more time to explore the mystery behind the character and also impress how Hush is trying to systematically target and break down Batman. But overall, it’s a decent take.

Quite a few changes were made in adapting the storyline to a film by director Justin Copeland and writer Ernie Altbacker. The narrative gives a much more amplified focus to the Catwoman/Selina Kyle and Batman/Bruce Wayne relationship. For the purposes of this story, it serves the narrative well in adapting it to a single feature. Other changes are to accommodate that the film is set in the DC Animated Movie Universe that basically began with Justice League: War in 2014. This ongoing series of animated features has not been without its problems, but this is one of the better stories.

Batman does get a costume switch for this film, and there is at least a reasoning given for why he dons a costume more evocative of the original comic. Unfortunately, the parts involving Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins are excised for continuity purposes. Other changes include having Bane take the place of Killer Croc from the original story.

I always thought Hush was on paper a compelling new villain. The reveal and final act for the story was a total letdown. It was really bungled. The animated movie takes things in a new direction. The creative changes are fine, but the film could’ve used a bit more time to add more to the mystery aspect ahead of the ultimate reveal. At the very least, the ending is a little more straightforward and less convoluted than the comics. It’s not necessarily the best ending, but it doesn’t constantly fumble the ball in the final act like the comic did.

The original story pulling the trigger on Batman and Catwoman was exciting and felt like a step in the right direction. So, it’s nice to see that relationship get developed in the film. The playful banter and suggestive dialogue between Batman and Catwoman is a lot of fun. Thankfully, Batman is not forced to play the celibate monk this time around. There’s even an amusing James Bond-esque moment between the two involving Alfred. Robin has only a short cameo here, but his one scene lecturing his father about his love-life is probably a show-stealer.

Jennifer Morrison is a welcome addition to the DCAMU as Catwoman. It’s a fun performance. Jason O’Mara’s Batman is still a little too stiff for my tastes. He does the gruff, ultra-serious Batman material fine, but less so the more character-driven romance and Bruce Wayne parts. I think Sean Maher has always done underrated work as Nightwing/Dick Grayson, who is thankfully given a decent role here. I like that Selina actually addresses Bruce grooming Dick to replace him. Batman’s answer is typical Batman. I was never overtly fond of switching to Rainn Wilson for Lex Luthor, who has a short appearance here to pay homage to his role in Reign of the Supermen.

Hush is far from my favorite of the newer Batman animated movies. It doesn’t come close to this year’s Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but it’s a decent addition to the ongoing DTV movie series. The fights and action are good, and it’s a decent adaptation of a seminal storyline.

Blu-Ray Info: The Blu-ray and DVD Combo Pack release for Batman: Hush is packaged in your standard Blu-ray case with a slip cover packaging. There’s an insert with a code for a digital HD download of the film as well.

Video Info: The Blu-ray transfer of the film features a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and a 1080p resolution. The animation is solid for the most part. Animation and artwork all look good and fairly clean for the most part. Gotham City looks dark, darkly-lit, shadowy, and ominous, as it should. Overall, Copeland did a good job in adapting key moments from the storyline to life. Since this is a continuation of an existing film series, they couldn’t experiment a lot with the artwork or animation style, but it looks good for the most part.

Audio Info: The Blu-ray version features 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. There are optional language tracks in Dolby Digital 5.1 for French and Spanish.

Special Features: There’s a few nice extras here that are worth checking out. It’s not an extras-heavy release, but there’s at least filmmaker audio commentary, plus an awesome new DC Showcase short from the master, Bruce Timm.

DC Showcase Short: Sgt. Rock This is easily the best extra on this set. It’s a DC Showcase short starring Sgt. Rock (voiced by Karl Urban), directed by none other than Bruce Timm. However, it’s a Sgt. Rock story where he teams up with the Creature Commandoes. It’s a fun, quick, little storyline. And considering that direct-to-video features starring obscure characters such as Sgt. Rock and the Creature Commandoes is likely not happening anytime soon, this was a great addition. It’s also nice to see the DC Showcase shorts come back again. They really should be a regular thing, since they are a nice way to explore other characters outside of the Superman, Batman, or Justice League areas of the DC Universe.

The short film doesn’t get to do a whole lot in terms of character development. It starts with a really tragic event for the Rock character, but it’s a fun, little team-up storyline that actually works pretty well. I’m glad Bruce Timm got the chance to direct this as well.

Audio Commentary With Filmmakers: There’s actually feature-length audio commentary track for the film, featuring producer James Tucker, director Justin Copeland, and screenwriter Ernie Altbacker. It’s not often that the DC DTV movie releases will have audio commentary tracks, so getting one here is pretty good. It’s a decent track, and they offer some nice anecdotes on the adaptation process, why they decided to make some of the changes, and how they came up with certain animated sequences. It’s a nice look into the DCAMU creative and production process.

Batman: Love in Time of War: This is a featurette that runs about 17 minutes and mainly offers a look at the Catwoman and Batman relationship and new interview clips from DC writers and editors. It’s an OK featurette, but these releases could use a bit more in terms of looking at the creative and production process behind the actual film, such as this film actually opting to have Batman and Catwoman advance their relationship further, what Jennifer Morrison thought of getting to play of the character. Those are the things I would like to hear more of for these Blu-ray extras.

Sneak Peek – Wonder Woman: Bloodlines: This is the typical sneak peek for a future DC DTV release that typically accompanies the extras for the new releases. In this case, It’s Wonder Woman: Bloodline. At least, DC Entertainment is getting a little more out of the usual Superman, Batman, Justice League comfort zone where these DTV movies are concerned.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Overall, I had a good time with Batman: Hush. Most of the more recent DTV Batman animated films have been reasonably good. This isn't the DC DTV movie I really want, which is Justice League vs. Masters of the Universe. If DC Entertainment can make a deal with Paramount/Nickelodeon to put together a Batman vs. TMNT animated movie, I see no reason Justice League vs. MOTU couldn't happen. Granted, it was neat to see an animated attempt at the Hush storyline. It's not a perfect adaptation. They could've added a bit more suspense in terms of the big reveal and added a bit more heft to the mystery, but considering the original comic has a vastly flawed third act, the animated movie does a decent job of it. Plus, this movie is paired with an awesome animated short for Sgt. Rock that's directed by Bruce Timm.