Here it is. The long awaited Batman film that everyone has wanted to see. The Killing Joke. The quintessential Batman vs Joker story, written by Alan Moore. Ever since that book came out, people have been wanting to see a film adaptation for years. It could be live action, animated, or even stop motion. People just wanted to see the iconic imagery from the panels lifted on to the screen, with some of the most memorable monologues in comic book or graphic novel history. And one other thing they needed to make it perfect was Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill returning to voice Batman and The Joker. Did this adaptation hold up?
Everything in this film is what you would expect. The Killing Joke story is in there, and it’s obvious that the filmmakers wanted to pay as much homage and respect to the original graphic novel as possible. They do this by recreating shots from the book, and taking quotes from the original dialogue. Everything is exactly what you would expect from a DC Animated Killing Joke adaptation, except for the first 15 minutes.
The beginning of this film starts with a prologue about Batgirl/ Barbara Gordon (played by Tara Strong) and her dealing with a psychotic criminal who is in love with her and her own feelings towards Batman. This was a cool animated short, but it doesn’t add much to the main Killing Joke story.
While I was watching the opening, I was trying to guess what the connection was going to be, but there isn’t one. The whole point of that opening is for the audience to get to know Babs, which is why that short would have been much better suited as a 20 minute video released on Youtube (or where ever) to the public, to get people even more excited for the film.
The opening was fun, but it didn’t add much to the overall story.
When I first saw the trailer, I was not a fan of the animation they used. In some shots, it looked like someone traced stills from the original book but forgot to add everything that made it unique. I wasn’t a fan.
When I watched the film, the animation grew on me. I still saw those shots, but there was a lot of better stuff in there.
It was a very strange style of animation. Sometimes it looked like a regular DC Animated film, and then other times it looked like anime. There’s one shot of the Joker, where he’s looking around a carnival with big glossy eyes and big wide smile, and it just looked like a different animator took over for that shot. Interesting.
These annoyed me.
My favorite parts of The Killing Joke story are the flashbacks. They add a mystique, sympathy, and creep factor to the already creepy Joker, if the flashbacks are his true origin. The art in the flash backs is beautiful, and has so much going on in each panel.
So… why didn’t I like them in this movie?
In this film, the majority of the flashbacks feel out of place, and I just don’t think they were handled very well.
When they transition from now to then, it’s just a cross dissolve that’s really annoying, then you get the saxophone from Lethal Weapon playing in the background, and it just doesn’t fit in this film. There are ways to make those flashbacks work in this movie, but the way they did it, did not work, with the exception of one.
The final flashback, I think was handled very well, and it was exciting. From that moment on, I started to really enjoy the movie. They finally found their footing, and they landed well. Also, in that last flashback we get the best performance from Mark Hamill, which leads me to…
Kevin Conroy is good. He’s Batman. That’s it. What we’re really here to see is Luke.
Mark Hamill as the Joker was good in some parts, great in some parts, and not as good in some parts.
His good moments come from the last 5 minutes, where it’s him versus Batman, even then that’s a bit of a stretch…
His best moments where in the final flash back.
The not so good moments were in everything else.
I love Mark Hamill as the Joker. He is the Joker, yet in this film I feel like he could have done better. I still think that his best performance as the Clown Prince of Crime is in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. I feel that he should have taken some of that performance, and put it into this.
What stopped him from being great in this film was oddly enough… the dialogue. The dialogue in this film is very much Alan Moore. It’s smart writing, it works great in the comic book, but like a lot of the other attempts at adapting an Alan Moore story, it feels out of place.
Listening to Mark Hamill reading some of these lines is very awkward, and inconsistent because sometimes they keep original dialogue, and then other times they change it, and both don’t fit with each other. It doesn’t make sense why they would do that, just stick to one thing.
When the Joker starts monologuing to Commissioner Gordon or Batman or whoever will listen, he doesn’t sound threatening, he sounds like a pretentious high school student who thinks he knows everything about the world. I don’t blame Alan Moore’s writing. He is a comic book writer. The filmmakers should have known better. In this film, a lot of the dialogue doesn’t work with everything else, and that hurts Hamill’s performance.
I liked the film, it was fun. I’d watch it again. Doesn’t hold a candle to the original, but they tried their best.