Batman: Hush Blu-ray Review
"Riddle me this - the less of me you have, the more I am worth - what am I?"
Batman: Hush Review
One of the best Batman tales gets the movie treatment in this 15-rated adaptation, which may not be all that faithful for die-hard fans of the book, but is still one of the better new DC Animated Movie Universe entriesAlthough we're 35 titles into the broader DC Universe Animated Original Movies, we are actually "only" a dozen entries into the newer DC Animated Movie Universe, a confusing subset which runs concurrently with continuing chapters like Batman: The Killing Joke, but whose ongoing story arcs are all tied (unlike entries like Killing Joke and Gotham by Gaslight). It's only really the continuity that distinguishes the sets, as, pretty much ever since the excellent 2-part adaptation of Frank Miller's seminal The Dark Knight Returns, the DC Animated films have almost universally been darker and harder, with more sex and violence, and plenty of swearing, so much so that this latest addition - Batman: Hush - earns itself a 15 certificate.
Hush was epic comic book storytelling and is frequently championed as one of the best Batman tales from the last two decades, and perhaps even of all time. Much like the earlier crossover event Knightfall (which saw Bane challenge Batman by unleashing a succession of his deadliest foes, before finally - literally - breaking him, and which was used as the backbone for Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises), Hush posited the eponymous villain as a new and mysterious threat who coerces the help of a litany of the Dark Knight's worst enemies to challenge him. With Hush's identity an absolute enigma to the great detective, Batman finds unlikely help courtesy of will-they-won't-they femme fatale, Catwoman.
Hush is another prime example of the DC Universe Animated Movies delivering distinctly adult-driven content, which is a notch or two up from even their live action stuff
DC's animated adaptation of Hush has less than an hour and a half to cram in 300+ pages of very eventful story, and it nails the key events - including a tremendous confrontation with Superman (clearly the hallmark of some of the best Batman tales) - but, unavoidably, abbreviates the narrative down to a slightly more basic structure of still complex trickery. Fans of the book may well be frustrated by the changes, but it's also easy to understand why they had to happen, and the end result still carries the heart of Hush. Perhaps more difficult to swallow is the development of the Batman/Catwoman relationship far beyond what was on the written page, but again this kind of suits where the DC Animated Movie Universe is going, and, ultimately, they end in the same place as the book.
Bloody, brutal and with the gloves off when it comes to bad language (it seriously looked like Ivy was going to complete saying "mother-" at one point), Hush is another prime example of the DC Universe Animated Movies (in other words, the bigger subset) delivering distinctly adult-driven content, which is a notch or two up from even their live action stuff, let alone the very early entries in the franchise. Could Hush have done with a 2-parter? Sure, we only have to look at The Dark Knight Returns to see how that worked wonders. Would it have had a chance at being much more faithful outside of the DCAMU like The Killing Joke and Gotham by Gaslight? Maybe, but Killing Joke was hardly faithful, adding large its own new relationship component to pad out the limited source story. No, fans will have to make do with what they've done with Hush, and those who are only really familiar with the animated entries should consider it a very good one indeed, and well worth checking out.
Batman: Hush Blu-ray PictureWarner brings Batman: Hush to UK Region Free Blu-ray complete with a largely excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. Stylistically, the DC Animated Movie Universe has changed over the years, maintaining the same classic line-drawn look, but upgrading it to give it a more modern, Japanese anime-edged look (albeit not as overtly as Batman Ninja).
A striking presentation
Line detail is strong, whilst shading brings palpable texture to every little nuance in the production, and the background excels in providing a stunning backdrop to the proceedings. There's a wonderful depth to the visuals, although that does come at the cost of precision focus beyond the main characters. Colours are superbly rendered, most notably during the explosive sequences, where the fiery detonations almost smudge the image around the edges with the same heat distortion you'd get in real life, whilst street lights and the neons of the Gotham horizon also cast some fantastic tones. Black levels are rich and strong, inky and deep and, overall, it's a striking presentation which comes the closest of pretty much all of the DCAU in its attempt to reach demo heights, and arguably earns the points for trying alone.
Batman: Hush Blu-ray SoundThe movie's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also boasts a decent amount of oomph, a modicum of tangible separation, and some solid scoring to parade across the surrounds, rounding out a generally excellent aural accompaniment.
A generally excellent aural accompaniment
Dialogue is firmly prioritised across the frontal array, afforded clear and coherent dissemination throughout the proceedings, whilst effects include a fair few bombastic moments - the explosions deliver some heavyweight damage to the environment, and your living room - whilst body blows land particularly hard (especially in the Supes' fight). The score is suitably orchestral, even if it doesn't quite marry up to the production to deliver a truly memorable theme, and it gets strong coverage too, rounding out a track that comfortably fits in the demo category.
Batman: Hush Blu-ray ExtrasA whole host of extras pack out the disc, headlined by an Audio Commentary from the Director, Screenwriter, and also the Producer, who team-up to deliver some depth into the production, its differences from the source work, and bringing it into the modern DCAMU fold.
A whole host of extras
We also get a quarter-hour look at the on-off relationship between Batman and Catwoman, and the complexities that draw them together but keep them apart.
The first DCUAM entry in almost a decade to include a DC Showcase Short Film, Hush also boasts the WWII-set Sgt. Rock, a quarter hour adventure that's worth investigating. In addition, there's a Catwoman-themed "Catwalk", from the original Batman: The Animated Series, and a 10-minute preview for the next one on the roster, Wonder Woman: Bloodlines (as well as a shorter preview of Assault on Arkham). The disc also starts with a couple of trailers, including one for the new live-action Joker movie, which perhaps suggests the tone of the main event is going to be fairly adult.
Batman: Hush Blu-ray VerdictFans will have to make do with what they've done with Hush, and those who are only really familiar with the animated entries should consider it a very good one, and well worth checking out
Warner's UK Blu-ray release of Batman: Hush, the latest chapter in the DC Universe Animated Movies franchise, offers up excellent video and very good audio, as well as a slew of extras. Fans of the franchise should consider it a must-have.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £10.99
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