Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill do battle once again in DC's latest animated movie adaptation. Alan Moore's short but shocking The Killing Joke lit a fire in the DC universe that would have ripples even in today's films and comics. The trailer above does an amazing job of making you believe DC has brought to motion Alan Moore and Brian Bolland (Illustrator) epic take on The Joker. So does the animated film deliver?
Before the review, let's hear from Batty!
The Killing Joke is such a beloved and debated comic. Even Alan Moore isn't a huge fan of what has come about since his graphic novel. Moore's issues about over sexualizing a beloved comic world like Gotham and also creating this dark sinister aura to the Batman legacy. Ironically the film version of Moore's classic further cloud the story's point. Let's tackle the huge elephant in the room. The animated movie doesn't spend to much time with the Joker vs Batman story in fact!
Barbara Gordon is a dynamic and intriguing character in the comic world. Alan Moore's brutal assault against her and the sadistic treatment of Commissioner Gordon are still events that have haunted the Batman legacy. The animated film though expands on Barbara in the story in so much as giving us a mini-Batgirl first half. Tara Strong voices a solid Gordon and the character has likeable qualities. But their is a very youthful nature that totally takes away from the violence of the second act (aka THE KILLING JOKE STORY!). DC's choice to maximize the potential behind Barbara Gordon is noble, but sadly comes across as slightly cheesy and campy. Even with this youthful side of Gordon the cartoon takes a dive to the other side in very intriguing story…Batman and Batgirl? I won't spoil the sequence, but the notion of this team unifying in other ways seems so unnecesary. An older bro lil sis vibe has always been thrown about, but nope they spiced it up. This all becomes pointless when the Joker finally shows up. It's his terrible actions that catapults the action and give us the vivid moment of when Gordon is brutally attacked. The film doesn't shy away from Bolland's powerful fluid illustrations. The movie fully captures the comic's dark quality. This is mainly because of the classic combo of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill. Speaking of..
Batman and The Joker are such a perfect pairing and their is little doubt that Conroy and Hamill relish playing these roles. Conroy's deep bruiting tone mixed in with his fatherly qualities are such a great contrast to Hamill's manic unique voice. I just got to watch Suicide Squad coincidentally and I can easily say Hamill's Joker would OWN Leto's (though Leto does look good in the Joker makeup and the car is sweet!). But Hamill's vocal talents bringing to life Alan Moore's classic lines is pure joy. A lot of folks are furious over the Gordon sequence and of course about the Batman/Batgirl moment, but people are forgetting Hamill! The Joker is and always should be the focal point of any and every Batman story. Moore's story is so much about the power of the Joker. If the film does anything perfectly it's recreating the Joker's portion of the Killing Joke comic. But there is one moment that completely stands out and worthy of you watching the film. The Joker's carnival dance number is the one flawless sequence in the film and adds so much to the feel of the comic being animated.
Overall Batman: The Killing Joke doesn't live up to DC's latest Batman works like The Dark Knight or Red Hood. Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy's pairing though should pull you in and getting to see Alan Moore/Brian Bolland's iconic comic animated is visually powerful. The music as a whole is the one added bonus. That music is worth fighting past little Batgirl hooking up with Batman. Oh and the film does another great tribute and redeeming quality to the Gordon first act, we see who Gordon becomes after the terrible assault crippled her.