There are only a few pop culture and literary icons that could get me to go to a movie theater on a Monday night (unless it’s a holiday), and Batman is near the top of that list. The new animated film, BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE, received a special limited release for two nights only, July 25th and 26th. Though my local movie house was one of those showing the film, they were only showing it on one of the two nights, thus a special Monday night viewing for your intrepid reporter. This film is one of those rare examples of an R-rated animated production. Even though clearly advertised as such, I’m betting some unobservant parents out there will bring their children, as we all know that anything animated must be for kids, right? Then they’ll get all huffy and offended. The Joker would find this amusing, I think, and I confess that I would too.
THE KILLING JOKE, the graphic novel written by Alan Moore with art by Brian Bolland, remains one of the finest Batman stories ever created, and also one of the most controversial. It’s the story that put Barbara Gordon in a wheelchair (though DC recently retconned her out of it) and hints at an assault of a decidedly sexual nature. Does the film match the quality of the comic? Ooooooh, yeah. The animation looks like the comic brought to life, the extraneous material added for the film supports rather than detracts from the production, and Mark Hamill’s Joker has never been better, or creepier. (If any of you still have doubts after watching this film about Hamill’s being an underrated, phenomenal talent, I recommend you check out the movie SUSHI GIRL. He is brilliant.) I wouldn’t have minded if they’d gone for an even edgier, harder R rating, though.