Review Detail

Batman: The Killing Joke - The Book Cut
August 12, 2016    
Overall rating 
Audio/Video Quality 
Visual Editing 
Audio Editing 

I'm an unwashed heathen - I haven't read The Killing Joke. But going in to the animated adaptation mostly blind, the additions were painfully obvious. Excising the additional material makes for a much better overall experience. No Batgirl filler, no literal kangaroo court, no overly prolonged discussion of urine, no gratuitous Batman Returns-esque brawling with circus folk (with one exception - more on that shortly). The pacing is much improved, the transitions between the flashbacks and the main story feel much tighter. It's a complete improvement over the original release, and I really can't see myself going back to it ever again. However, I do think there remain a few areas for improvement.

Picture quality is mostly good, but there are some obvious compression artifacts, as well as aliasing on some diagonal lines. This is most obvious during the opening logos. Clocking in at 3.14GB, the editor could have gone with less intensive compression and still wound up with a FAT32 file below the 4GB cutoff. The audio quality is a nice and clear stereo mix. I imagine the original 5.1 mix could have been salvaged with the changes in place, but there's nothing wrong with this 2.0 version. It's a dialogue heavy piece as it is, not an action adventure.

Visual editing is almost perfect - cuts were pretty much seamless. The repetition of the doors during the montage looked a little too obvious. Perhaps some cropping or tinting could have spiced things up a bit. The added rain effect is a nice touch, but there's an obvious gap on the left side of the screen that feels very unnatural to me. Zooming in on the effect that's composited over the footage to fill the frame with rain would probably work a lot better.

Audio editing is, again, very well done. Deleted lines don't feel missing, rearranged voiceover fits naturally. Both music and sound effects during the new montage feel quite choppy and take me out of what was otherwise an engrossing, seamless experience. The squeaking of the train brakes just draw attention to themselves. Replacing that with a new sound effect, or perhaps muting it entirely would have gone a long way to alleviate the situation.

Again, I haven't read the source material, but one moment that I was positive couldn't have been in the book is still present in this cut. While climbing out of the spike pit trap, Batman tosses one of the Joker's hired hands down in his place, complete with an impalement sound effect. Was that really in the book? Batman's going out of his way to spare the Joker's life (or is he? Ambiguous ending and all.) - but has no qualms about sending his henchmen to their deaths? If that is indeed true to Alan Moore's vision, I can't fault the editor for retaining that scene. It just strikes me as contrary to the whole point of the story.

Either way, it's a complete improvement over the original release. Recommended.

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