Batman: Hush - this is not the adaptation you're looking for.
Released as straight to DVD/Blu-ray/4K, this is the latest adaptation of a graphic novel into an animated feature from Warner Brothers and DC. Batman: Hush, directed by Justin Copeland, is the latest film in WB Animation’s series of animated movies following The Death of Superman.
The film loosely adapts the graphic novel of the same name, by Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair. Jim Lee and Jeph Loeb with Ernie Altbacker wrote the film.
So where are we and what’s going on in Gotham? The film opens with Bruce Wayne (played by Dubliner Jason O’Mara) enjoying a charity fund-raiser before running into Selina Kyle (Jennifer Morrison) and Tommy Elliot (Maury Sterling), a world-renowned doctor and childhood friend of Bruce Wayne. But before Bruce can really hit it off with Selina, Alfred informs him that Bane (Adam Gifford) is abducting a child.
As Batman takes him down, he notices not everything about the usually put together villain is as it seems. Bane desperately swings at Batman going on and on about needing the money. Needless to say, he loses ground against the Bat quickly, as the new venom pumping through his veins clouds his judgment and intelligence.
After defeating him Lady Shiva (Sachie Alessio) reveals herself to Batman and tells him that an unknown intruder has exploited a Lazarus Pit. But before Batman can finish with her and Commissioner Gordon, they notice Catwoman has stolen the ransom money Bane demanded after kidnapping the boy. A chase across the skyline ensues as Batman attempts to take the money back from Catwoman. But, before he can reach her, Batman’s line is cut by a hidden figure. A man wrapped in bandages looks out on the Dark Knight, ominously whispering, “Hush Batman, hush.”
Thanks to poor writing, Bruce doesn’t act like the world’s greatest detective. His investigation with Catwoman into Poison Ivy’s (Peyton List) involvement with Bane as well as who is pulling the bigger strings in the deal is muddled to say the least. The script doesn’t do a great job of connecting clues or telling the audience exactly how Batman reaches his conclusions. When Hush is revealed, Batman doesn’t know much more than the audience. He is never one step ahead but it is also not believable he should be this far behind. There is little evidence up until Hush spills all his secrets in a drawn-out supervillain monologue as to who he is.
Unfortunately, Bruce Wayne isn’t the only one who seems out of character. Catwoman plays a much larger role in the film than in the original graphic novel, taking on quite a few supplementary characters roles. In theory, this should be a good thing as it can act as a way to cut down on unnecessary exposition – something the graphic has a lot of – particularly into lesser-known characters. However, the voice acting from Morrison feels forced and brings an unnecessary gruffness to Catwoman’s vocals. Morrison cannot capture the alluring and sexy nature of Selina’s voice. She doesn’t roll her “Rs” like a cat purring, instead, she sounds monotone and angry. Because of this, all of Catwoman’s wittier dialogue just falls flat. Morrison has no chemistry with O’Mara’s Batman, whose voice acting, I overall like.
Outside of Catwoman and Bruce feeling out of character, Barbara Gordon (Peyton List) feels like a shell. Her first fight with Catwoman, following Bruce’s fall, is clumsy and instead of focusing on the fact Bruce just fell to his death, she takes on Selina, wasting precious moments that Bruce probably needs considering his brain is swelling. Babara’s character feels like a throwaway.
The only characters that work well are in the background of the narrative. Nightwing (Sean Maher) feels like Nightwing as he throw quips out while taking down the bad guys. And the best part of the entire movie, featuring the only jokes that land, is Damian Wayne (Stuart Allan) telling off his father in the most Damian Wayne fashion.
Overall, bad voice acting and dialogue leaves the film with a lot to be desired, especially from a one that seeks to introduce one of Batman’s most interesting villains. The jokes fall short, the pacing is all over the place, and the chemistry between any of the characters is nonexistent.
The twist at the end of the film, which differs from the graphic novel is poorly executed and comes out of nowhere. My recommendation is to read the original graphic novel. Thankfully, this latest DC installment has a short running time of 81 minutes.