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Review – Batman: Hush – “A great Batman story”

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Released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK on the 12th of August, Batman: Hush is a feature-length animated adaptation of the graphic novel by Jim Lee and Jeph Loeb, with voice work provided by Jason O’Mara (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Jennifer Morrison (Once Upon a Time), Sean Maher (Firefly, Serenity), Jerry O’Connell (Scream 2) and Rebecca Romijn (X-Men).

A sinister new villain has come to Gotham. Clad in bandages and lurking in the shadows, the creepy and commanding Hush manipulates most of The Caped Crusader’s sizeable rogues gallery – and even Superman (O’Connell) – into massing against him. The Dark Knight (O’Mara) has his work cut out for him as he juggles a romance with Catwoman (Morrison) and figuring out the identity and motives of Hush while fending off frequent attacks from Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, The Joker, Scarecrow, Clayface, and The Riddler.

Hush is extremely faithful to its source material with just some additional jokes and nods to other characters whose amusing appearances I won’t reveal and spoil. The animation itself is not great. Character designs are really nice, and it’s always good to see Bats in action in the blue and grey, but the style is extremely static and simplistic throughout making Hush seem cheap and lazy. It also feels like there is confusion regarding whom this is for. The plot is kept simple enough for the young ‘uns to follow, but at the same time, there are deep cut references that casual fans won’t get and an odd nasty tone throughout caused by an obsession with getting a “15” rating.

The “shit”’s and sex references feel shoe-horned in every time, and some of the violence has a dark and mean-spirited cruelty. None of it is necessary, it just feels done purely to get an adult rating in an effort to seem more gritty and attract those who may be initially cynical about a Batman cartoon.

Hush’s voice acting is fine, but the lack of usual animated Bat film stalwarts Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and The Joker is noticeable. “Name” actors have been prioritised over voice actors and although it is momentarily good to discern Vanessa Williams as Amanda Waller, Rainn Wilson as Lex and Romijn as Lois, they don’t have a lot to do and their performances perhaps lack the impact of those trained to use their voices for maximum effect. Again, they just feel like boxes ticked to draw an audience, not to necessarily make the film better.

However, Hush is a great Batman story and Lee and Loeb’s twisty plot shines through keeping you on your toes with twists and turns and red herrings until the final reveal. It is also extremely entertaining to get a constant barrage of all Batman’s wonderful villains sporting classic looks and queuing up for plenty of banter and BAM! THWOK! action.

With no new film until at least 2021, Bat-fans in need of a fix of The Caped Crusader will find some solace in Hush in the meantime.

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