Batman: Hush (2019)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 8/24/19
Director: Justin Copeland
Cast: Jason O'Mara, Jennifer Morrison, Jerry O'Connell, Rebecca Romijn, Vanessa Williams, Rainn Wilson

"Deep down, he's a good person. And deep down, I'm not."

Batman (Jason O'Mara) rescues a kidnapped boy from Bane, while Catwoman (Jennifer Morrison) runs off with the ransom money and gives it to Poison Ivy. But Ivy is being coerced by a villain named Hush, who is manipulating all of Batman's enemies in an attempt to break him before killing him. In the emotional aftermath of Thomas Elliot's death, Bruce Wayne's romantic involvement with Selina Kyle steps up to a whole new level and he reveals his secret identity to her. After being one step behind Hush for the entire show, Batman finally deduces Hush's identity from all of the clues he's been purposely leaving behind. In the end, Selina realizes that Bruce will never change or evolve into a man who can make their relationship work, and they reluctantly part ways.

It's a decent adaptation of the original "Hush" story by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee, but it still takes some artistic detours. Most notably, it completely dismisses any notion of Bruce's doctor friend, Thomas Elliot, being in league with Hush and wanting revenge against Bruce and his family. Huntress, Talia, Tim Drake, and Killer Croc are also absent from the story, while Damien, Bane, and Lex Luthor show up instead. The animation is clean and smooth, and Frederik Wiedmann's music score is superb. The action scenes and fight choreography are excellent, but the CGI vehicles are distracting and some of the character designs feel a bit off.

The film's biggest weakness is in the casting and voice direction. Jason O'Mara has played Batman before, but he still comes across as a bit too flat. Jennifer Morrison gives a strong performance as Catwoman, but it's difficult for her to play off of the emotionally dead Batman. One of her best lines is "God, you're hot when you smash stuff." Most of the female characters sound good, while many of the male characters seem sorely miscast. Lex Luthor, James Gordon, and Alfred are especially disconcerting. Hynden Walch does a decent job as Harley Quinn, but it's strange that they didn't hire Tara Strong for the role, who plays another minor character in the film. While I enjoyed the story quite a bit, the weak character designs and wooden acting kept me from giving the film a full four stars.