‘Batman: Hush’ 4K UHD Review
I am typically not one to complain when adapted material strays from its source. DC properties are a great example, actually. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s The Watchmen had a significant change from the comic series to the movie during the climax. I felt that this was not only necessary for mainstream audiences to accept the film, but much more palatable even for die-hard fans of the title. Dynamite and Amazon’s newest adaptation, The Boys, hits us with a rather entertaining curveball and twist at the end of its first season; something not found in the short comic run.
Those are just a couple of instances from a list of many of which I stand in defense. However, the changes made to Batman: Hush not only didn’t work for me, but they actually change some key components that made it a very popular Batman arc. I get that, due to time constraints, something had to be changed. Honestly, Batman: Hush could have been a three part movie or a full season of animated adventures. However, without spoiling it, you can’t make a change that significant and not expect some backlash.
I grew up on Batman. Even with Marvel taking over pop-culture, I’m still very much about The Dark Knight and the DC Universe. But Batman: Hush’s changes from source to movie isn’t the only concern found in Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment’s recent release.
Batman: Hush, written by Jeph Loeb, penciled by Jim Lee, inked by Scott Williams, and colored by Alex Sinclair, is often a contender in the discussion about the best Batman story arcs of all time. The character has been around since 1939, so there are plenty of story arcs to choose from. Towards the top of many blog’s and people’s lists are titles such as Batman: The Long Halloween, The Dark Knight Returns, The Killing Joke, and Batman: Hush. I always defend Hush more than the other titles when having debates with other Batman geeks, and I never fully understood why.
Batman: Hush, the comic, features a brand new villain in Hush, a mysterious character that pits almost the entirety of well-known Gotham Rogues against The Dark Knight. But this time around, they use Superman for evil, Catwoman is a hero, Huntress, Damien’s Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl (in the movie she has the new costume too), and Alfred are all along for the ride with Bruce Wayne.
The movie starts similar to the comic series, introducing the characters and pitting Batman against some of his familiar foes. But as the battles continue, the motives of each villain seems to be very different than usual. With Hush pulling the strings, villains are going through great lengths to get to Batman and kill Catwoman. The events unfold and, one by one, each familiar character makes their entrance. As the film reaches the climax, an unexpected twist happens that tests Batman’s code.
All-in-all, it’s a great formula and wonderfully executed in the comic. Batman: Hush the movie plays into those tropes well, using the same formula. But, I’m assuming for the sake of time, with less characters and less of a twist. In fact, the twist in the comic is obvious but well concocted. Characters such as the Red Hood, Huntress, and others return. But the movie adaptation takes a different direction with that twist, and without spoiling it I can’t thoroughly complain why the change is so bothersome.
As with most of the DC Animated titles, Batman: Hush has a strong cast of voices, including some big names you may not realize are present. Jason O’Mara is starting to establish himself as a solid voice for Batman / Bruce Wayne. I hate to raise the comparison, but nobody will stand as tall as Kevin Conroy, fortunately O’Mara doesn’t try to, as he’s starting to forge his own identity as Batman. Jennifer Morrison does a great job with Catwoman / Selina Kyle. Other voices include Geoffrey Arend, Sean Maher, Jerry O’Connell, and Rebecca Romijn. Not a bad cast overall.
As you will read in my upcoming Extra Features rant (just a few short paragraphs away), you’ll understand that for an audience to fully buy into a format we need the studios to lead the way. I get that Batman: Hush is only a 2D animated film, but another upscaled title is just piss poor planning. Upscaling a title means that it was created originally for a resolution lower than what the format is putting out; in this case 1080p Blu-ray digitally altered afterwards to the 2160p 4K resolution. Again, this is an animated movie, it technically is all created to whatever resolution they want and not shot in a certain style or with limited cameras, but all NEW movies need to be created at the highest possible resolution of their time.
All that aside, I will say that like the other DC Animated titles, Batman: Hush does not suffer severely from this standard upscale. It’s far from perfect, but part of that is taking on the dark and grainy world of Batman’s Gotham City. The increase in resolution and the use of HDR do help add visual clarity to those dark moments, specifically the fast moving night shots of Gotham. The color stays true to form, never really getting crushed or lost. Characters with vibrant palettes, such as Superman and Poison Ivy, pop right off the screen. Depth is added by the higher resolution, which is a great addition for a two dimensional art form. But overall, the presentation does fall short of being perfect due to microbanding and blurring in some fast sequences.
I have very little to complain about here… okay, I did a paragraph’s worth of complaining and I’m going to complain some more in future sections. But, my point is that Batman: Hush features a very satisfactory video presentation, especially in 4K.
Batman: Hush comes to both 4K UHD and Blu-ray with an identical DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio lossless track. There are no real complaints about lossless audio compression on an animated disc, especially because this is a high end codec that not only captures incredible sound but also distributes it beautifully across five speakers and a subwoofer. Dialogue is crisp and clear, with action loud and directional. The subwoofer is active, being that it is an action movie, but it never feels overwhelming or poorly timed. I usually have plenty of positive notes for these DC Animated movies’ audio, but it feels like Batman: Hush’s track is pretty close to flawless. Really, nothing negative to pick at.
As with all the Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment 4K UHD releases, the extra features can only be found on the Blu-ray disc. I really don’t get this. It’s not just a Warner Animation thing either, most of the industry continues to replicate this trend. I get it, you’re already pressing the Blu-ray with extra features and it’s more time and cost effective to just throw the movie on the 4K disc. Not to mention you can sell audiences on the fact the disc now has more room for the movie; hooray, less compression! But, I’ll say it again: Come on already… if you want an audience to buy into a format we need the studios to fully do so first.
Anyway, the extras features for Batman: Hush is a better list than we’ve seen in recent movies. You have your typical Audio Commentary track, the animated short film Sgt. Rock (14:55), a featurette about the always interesting relationship between Catwoman and Batman titled Batman: Love in Time of War, two sneak peeks at other DC animated titles, and from the vault you get the “Catwalk” episode from Batman: The Animated Series.
The set itself includes the aforementioned Blu-ray Disc riding alongside the 4K UHD and the always standard Digital Copy. The set includes a slipcover, like most the DC Animated features do, but it’s cool to point out that not only did Jim Lee provide the artwork, his Batman: Hush art colleagues Scott Williams and Alex Sinclair also took part.
Batman: Hush itself is a bit underwhelming, but the 4K presentation is what you want in a high definition release. The movie is good, but fans of the comic and fans of Warner Bros. Animation keeping their adaptations true to source may not be as pleased with this one. After a phenomenal run with their animated films, DC is stumbling a bit. I hope Batman: Hush isn’t a sign of what’s to come.
Rent It First
- Movie Itself
- Video Presentation
- Audio Presentation
- Extra Features
A mysterious villain uses Catwoman, Riddler, Ivy and several of Batman’s other enemies and allies in a game to create chaos in Batman’s life.