Batman: The Killing Joke

Yes, the book is better—isn’t it always? The animated adaptation of author Alan Moore and artist Brian Bolland’s pivotal 1988 graphic novel, Batman: The Killing Joke, delivers strong fan favorites but fails to capture the gravity of the source material. Moore’s story about how one bad day can drive a man insane does translate well to the screen, but an expanded Batgirl storyline is forced and unnecessary. Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill and Tara Strong reprise their voice roles from the 1990s animated Batman releases, playing Batman, the Joker and Batgirl, respectively. But while Hamill continues to delight as the Joker, Conroy seems to have caught Christian Bale’s scratchy throat. Conroy still balances the humor and horror of the character, but his mumbling growl is an unwelcome addition to Conroy’s characterization. The animation style follows the exemplary Batman: The Animated Series, but somehow manages to be less cinematic, even with Bolland’s striking visuals. However, there’s more enjoyment found in 77 minutes of Conroy and Hamill than Batman v Superman’s Zack Snyder could stretch into three hours.