Synopsis: A mysterious criminal known as Hush is determined to destroy both the crime-fighting career and personal life of Batman, which has already been complicated by a relationship with Catwoman.
Review: As has become an annual tradition at San Diego Comic Con, Warner Bros and DC debuted their latest animated feature film. This year was the long anticipated adaptation of BATMAN: HUSH. Based on the 2002 Jeph Loeb arc of the same name, BATMAN: HUSH is a fairly straight forward take on an iconic story in the mythos of Batman. Featuring one of the most extensive rogue’s galleries of any DC animated film, BATMAN: HUSH manages to encapsulate a twelve issue story into a film that runs just under ninety minutes. The results are a story that has to streamline many plot elements of the original comic not only for time but to also fit within the DC Animated Movie Universe.
BATMAN: HUSH opens with Bruce Wayne (voiced by Jason O’Mara) running into Selina Kyle (Jennifer Morrison) at a party being thrown by Bruce’s childhood friend Tommy Elliott (Maury Sterling). When an emergency forces Bruce to suit up as Batman to stop Bane, he finds himself embroiled in a mystery that leads him from Bane to Poison Ivy to The Joker, Scarecrow, Riddler, and more of his most iconic villains. There are also appearances by Lady Shiva, Amanda Waller, Lois Lane (Rebecca Romjin), Superman (Jerry O’Connell), Batgirl, Nightwing, and many more. All of these villains are being forced to do the bidding of a new masked bad guy named Hush who has a vendetta againt Batman.
Eventually, Bruce and Selina join forces both as heroes as well as lovers, in a story that advances their characters and relationship more than virtually any single comic story has ever done before. All the while, they need to unravel who Hush is and why he has such a grudge against Batman. Fans of the comic book know that the ending is one of the weakest elements of Hush, but BATMAN: HUSH streamlines it significantly. While I found that it still doesn’t quite work (in fact, it was pretty underwhelming), it works better than the original comic ending.
What hurts BATMAN: HUSH the most is the generic animation and the very bland voicr acting. While I like the work of Jason O’Mara and Jennifer Morrison in live action, there is just no energy to their performances here which makes BATMAN: HUSH feel boring. The animation style, which should be familiar to fans of the other movies in this franchise, doesn’t pop or really do anything special to distinguish itself from every other animated superhero movie. There are some interesting fight scenes that blend CGI with the traditional cell animation, but they don’t make up for the rest of the generic look of the movie. For some reason, BATMAN: HUSH looks cheaper than many of DC’s small screen efforts and that is pretty disappointing.
BATMAN: HUSH also suffers from being a forced PG-13 movie. There is a decent amount of light profanity through the film, much of it coming across as forced in an effort to make the movie edgier than it actually is. There is also sexual innuendo between the burgeoning romance of Batman and Catwoman. With the characters recently having a wedding in the pages of DC Comics, it is nice to see them become a couple, however short-lived, but the lack of chemistry between O’Mara and Morrison makes it hard to really buy the changes to their characters. The rushed ending to fit the story into the brisk runtime of this movie also undermines the dramatic decisions that Batman makes that could alter his life forever.
BATMAN: HUSH is not a bad movie but it is also so hopelessly generic that it fails to capitalize on the story it is adapting. Hush as a villain is wasted here and never really makes much sense. Without being able to build up his diabolical scheme over multiple films, we are left with several red herrings and a villain delivering a monologue to convince us that he is a worthy foe for the Dark Knight. The strongest part of this movie is the developments between Batman and Catwoman, but that is a failure when the title of your movie is the name of a wasted villain rather than BATMAN AND CATWOMAN. BATMAN: HUSH is going to appeal to fans of the comic book story and fans of the DC Animated Universe movies, but everyone else can skip this one.
BATMAN: HUSH is available on digital starting July 20th and Blu-ray/4K on August 6th.