By A. Mark Keagen (Allen, TX)
I love Kevin Conroy. I love Mark Hamill. I love the 90s series, and I love The Killing Joke comic. I’ve been anticipating this movie since Mid-March. And I tried SO HARD to like this movie. But, I just couldn’t.
If you don’t know the story, then I’ve got no time to tell it, so look it up on Wikipedia.
I won’t delve into the Batgirl prologue too much, because, let’s face it, everyone else has. But, yeah, it’s pretty stupid. Batgirl’s ‘struggle’, that gay guy at the library, and the villain are all cringe-worthy. In fact, the villain especially is confusing, unintimidating, and, quite frankly, a little annoying in his infatuation with Batgirl. It’s just strange and unnecessary. And, yeah, let’s address the elephant in the room: (Spoiler Alert!) Batman and Batgirl have sex. Considering that Bruce Wayne is twice Barbara Gordon’s age, that Barbara is the daughter of Batman’s best friend, Commissioner Gordon, and that no comic, movie, or TV episode has EVER hinted at a romance between Batman and Batgirl, then yes, this was an awful decision.
Once Batman arrived at Arkham Asylum, I thought that this was where the movie was going to get good. And it started strong. Kevin Conroy’s monologue to the Joker imposter was terrific. As was Mark Hamill’s conversation with the ill-fated carnival owner. But then I got to the scene where the man who would become the Joker talked with his wife. This scene set the precedent for the movie’s greatest failure: Pacing.
The scenes depicting the Joker’s past sucked. They were terrible. They cut out lines, moved WAY too fast, and had poor deliveries from the actors. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and cross the line with this one: I think Mark Hamill totally bombed as The Joker – before the character went insane. I feel as though even HE was saying his lines too fast, and that the voice he used for The Joker and Pre-Joker were far too similar. I don’t know. Maybe the voice he chose just didn’t make the character sympathetic enough. Of course, he isn’t the only problem. The writing lends nothing to the death of the Joker’s wife. The movie actually chooses to focus on the two gangsters rather than the two cops telling Pre-Joker about her death. And, once again, the bad pacing kicks in, leaving Pre-Joker no time to reflect on his wife. Finally, the chemical plant scene was executed well until the scene where the Joker cracks. What’s to blame? You guessed it. Pacing. The dive into madness happens at the drop of a hat, and Mark Hamill, the King of The Cackle, gives us what is probably his most underwhelming laugh ever. FAIL, MOVIE. FAIL.
The bad pacing also ruins many other scenes. I thought I’d accidentally hit the fast forward button on my remote while I watched The Shooting, The Hospital Scene, Jim Gordon’s Ordeal, and ALL of the Joker’s Monologues. Ironically, I sure do WISH I had the movie on fast forward during that God- awful song number.
The saving grace of the movie truly is Kevin Conroy. Every line and every scene (‘Cept for Sex’) was a complete gem. I cannot praise the man enough. In fact, I believe that the best scene in the whole movie was the final talk between Batman and the Joker, for 3 reasons: 1, the pacing finally settled down and let the people talk like normal people. 2, Conroy and Hamill delivered great lines and great laughs. And 3, it signified that the movie was over.
Final Verdict: A movie unworthy of its source material. Apart from Conroy, Hamill, and Ray Wise, the voice acting is beyond mediocre. The animation? Crappy. The Pacing? Rushed, as if the movie had to pee.
In fact, you know what I actually enjoyed more?
Batman: The Killing Joke, Full Motion Comic from MovieCreedLive.com, and no, I don’t work for them. I just think that, all together, their actors and pacing did a better job than the film. Go check it out, and compare the two! And, again, I’m not advertising.