Review Detail

9.6 12 10
FanFix August 12, 2016 11715
(Updated: May 07, 2020)
Overall rating
 
8.8
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
9.0
Enjoyment
 
8.0
“The Killing Joke: the Book cut” is a title suitably lacking in ostentation. Left out simply is the unwarranted, unwanted, and frankly uninspired prologue chapter of the original cut, which culminated in an awkwardly Freudian coital unison between Batman and Batgirl (whom I always saw as having more of an uncle / niece type relationship). I’m not sure what Bruce Timm was thinking with this besides a lame attempt at subverting fan expectations, something that has come to rather dog recent Batman animations. 
 
A subsequently pared-down 39 minute runtime doesn’t feel substantial enough then, when animated DC movies are routinely over an hour (and that is not a criticism of MusicEd921’s stellar efforts at all). Timm should have instead fleshed out the Killing Joke story itself: the proto-Joker's pitiable home life, Batman and Joker’s intractably fractious (and potentially lethal) relationship. Heck, it was a fine idea to give Barbara more screen time, just not... like that. 
 
You see, the “Book Cut” emphasises another issue: this adaptation of Alan Moore’s classic (but brisk) Batman-Joker tale has a surprisingly anaemic, low-rent feel. The art style is fine for the most part, but the animation is janky- seemingly below 5FPS at times. Neither the legendary Mark Hamill nor Kevin Conroy bring their A-game. Hamill is particularly disappointing, barely raising himself above a vague melancholy in one moment of inconceivable tragedy, and never nearly hitting the same magical, maniacal heights for the Joker character as he did in the animated series or the more recent Arkham games. Maybe it was by way of direction, but the feature projects a spare, muted quality... nothing really connects.
 
As for the edit itself, it’s essentially immaculate. No jump-cuts, nor imperfect audio transitions to take us out of the experience. The decision to cut the Joker’s laugh is apposite to the book (leading to the interpretation that the Dark Knight may have broken his one rule). There is an argument to retain Gordon’s trial as it provides some much-needed character / thematic development, even if it is not from the source material.

There was one moment where the “Maybe I’ll kill you, maybe you’ll kill me” line is repeated in Batman’s mind. I found that to be a touch on the nose, but I suspect it may have been inserted in an attempt to jazz up another frustratingly insipid key moment. I would also say, to nitpick, the overlaid rain effect could be less conspicuous; it looks like the source of the rain is just above shot, like someone has a garden sprinkler poised over the top of the camera!
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