I'm not sure how to approach this movie. I wanted to like this movie I really did. I wanted to like everything about it. From its revival of the good old' Batman TAS to the voice actors to the sweeping soundtrack, the polished animation reflecting a dark Art Deco Gothic whatever the hell you call it STYLE. Maybe I was asking for too much but perhaps a little story on the side too. Pretty please? That being said, I also slapped a big 'REALISTIC Expectations' sticker over my eyes before watching the screen come alive. I knew this wasn't going to be as good as Batman: The Animated Series. But I was glad to have something reminiscent of that monolith of 1990's animation and storytelling. Boy was I in for a surprise. The core issue of this movie is not the A) story it chose to tell or B) how it told said story but rather C) the juxtaposition of a classic show's established world (including its location, characters and story) with a modern flavor. Telling a new story that kind of breaks the older established world we all fell in love with on the TV screen. Then yes we have the story itself, a dark telling of how the joker became to be, without Warner Bros. censorship. This complicates things a bit. So without further ado, let's go down the list! Issue #1: Old World with new rules that break it. Really jarring, adds a new dimension of sex that was apparently very crucial to the story (or not). Enter strong powerful female figure defined by her sexuality, hit on by every hot criminal she meets, then making kinky love to Batman on rooftops with creepy goblins looking over ("it's only sex!") Definitely not a shallow character, no shortage of hot gay library friends and definitely loads of problems like deciding which guy she wants to be with. Let's see what's behind door number one BATMAN. Who is Batman? In this movie, he's pretty much a Zoltar of lazy story exposition. Says the most obvious things. Has no inner conflict. Has no fears. Has no emotions no feelings yet in the end we are supposed to feel his turmoil in fighting the Joker. Batman ladies and gents, is purely a device in this film. Batgirl was fan-service. And the movie spent a good 40 minutes setting up her love story to Batman when all of this information could've been relayed in a few key scenes! Why didn't this happen? Because the real star of the show got pushed out the Joker! Wasn't the story about the Joker more than anything? He isn't a witty clever funny man anymore. Now he's just misunderstood and 10x darker than Nolan's version. Although voiced by Hamill, he doesn't even compare to the TAS Joker who lit up the screen. Going to credit this to mediocre writing. Obvious things (90% Batman lines), dumb things (35% Batgirl lines) and unfunny things (75% Joker lines) should not exist. Make your dialogue interesting and worth quoting! These flat characters, the story's misplaced focus on character and conflict arise from the core issues the new Batman, complete with its sexy fan-service, empty brooding heroes and second-rate comic relief just cannot exist in this world. A Killing Joke is a story of its own and if it takes time trying to break the Batman TAS, then it should've been in its own world. Dear Mr. Liu, please do not use Batman TAS for anything if you're going to give us something new. Just give us something new. This story could've been its own thing and it could've been great. Issue #2: Show don't tell. Pretty much a copy of the graphic novel panel by panel. Come on spice it up a bit give us different angles, close-ups and MOVEMENT. Show us what animation can do even if it's on a tight budget. Show us the wonder and essence of the world. Make us feel the DESIRE Batgirl has to work with Batman, let us hear the thunder and rain crashing down on everything show us the details that move us emotionally. When we see the Joker from afar talking to the police about his wife, give us those strong visuals that tell the story on their own instead of him flatly saying his wife is dead. Show his loss and his madness. Don't deliver lines at dramatic points. Don't make Batman aware and comment on his meta-role as a foil to the Joker that's obvious and doesn't need to be in focus (even if in the original). Issue #3: Same story no insights. The Killing Joke is a very dark story and sometimes less is more. The Joker on his tirade fails to truly shock the audience. What he chose to do should've been the true horror of the story and presented as such so it sneaks up slowly on the audience. This could've been accomplished in so many creative ways. It was literally just given to the audience and rather quickly. In closing, it makes me think twice when an older 1993 movie like Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (highly underrated btw) outdoes The Killing Joke as a serious film with some substance to pack and scenes that tell a story on their own. I can't believe I'm saying this but the Joker was downright chilling in Phantasm and I watched that movie as an adult. It's not the inner fanboy leaking but a respect for the art. Watch Phantasm or Batman TAS if you're looking for a mature story that knows what it's doing. They may not have the newest animation or fan-service but it does have characters you'll care about and a story that will touch your soul.
Batman: The Killing Joke
Fathom Events, Warner Bros. and DC Comics invite you to a premiere event when Batman: The Killing Joke comes to select cinemas nationwide for a special one-night event including an introduction from Mark Hamill plus two never-before-seen featurettes. Based on the acclaimed DC Comics graphic novel, take a journey into the dark psyche of the Clown Prince of Crime. Now escaped from Arkham Asylum, The Joker sets out to prove that one bad day can make anyone just as insane as he is. Featuring the return of Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill as The Joker and Tara Strong as Batgirl, witness the birth of a super villain, the fortitude of a hero and the punchline that will leave you speechless!