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By: Nicholas Eskey

Those who were unfortunate enough to not be at San Diego Comic-Con’s Ballroom 20 missed out on the world premiere of the animated movie Batman: The Killing Joke. The movie is based off of the graphic novel of the same name, which has gone down as one of the most brutal Batman stories still to this day. That said, the hype for this movie has been fairly large.

The movie brings the legendary voice talents of Kevin Conroy, Tara Strong, and Mark Hamill, as well as the composing trio of Michael McCuistion, Kristopher Carter, and Lolita Ritmanis (who got their start on the animated series). Also included were director Sam Liu, writer Brian Azzarello, artist Bruce Timm, and new to the established crew the voice talents of Ray Wise as Commissioner Gordon.

Left to Right: Sam Liu, Brian Azzarello, Bruce Timm, Ray Wise, Tara Strong, and Kevin Conroy

Left to Right: Sam Liu, Brian Azzarello, Bruce Timm, Ray Wise, Tara Strong, and Kevin Conroy

A panel was held before the actual movie was shown (mostly because they couldn’t show it before 10pm as it is rated R). All people listed were present, save for Mark Hamill. This didn’t mean that his presence wasn’t made, as in mid-panel moderator Gary Miereanu’s phone rang. To the delight and cheers of the ballroom, it was Mark Hamill. He spoke about how he wished he could have been there, and that this movie will undoubtedly be loved. Before he hung up, another voice hailed the phone. You got it. The Clown Prince of Crime, the Joker. Uproars filled the room. After he hung up, Tara Strong in her Harley Quinn said, “Is he going to call back? He didn’t say hi to his puddin!”

Mark Hamill speaks to the crowd via smartphone.

Mark Hamill speaks to the crowd via smartphone.

In large, the panel discussed how the making of the movie had pushed the boundaries of anything they have yet to do in Batman animation, emphasizing that this was an R movie. Also discussed was how everyone in the original Killing Joke had been given a back story; all except Barbara Gordon.

“She is such a great character,” said Bruce Timm. “We felt that we had to give her something. So, we added a backstory for her that wasn’t in the graphic novel. But after all the many times we’ve reviewed this movie, me and Brian couldn’t remember what was or wasn’t in the original book. It adds another dimension to her… Which makes what happens to her even worse.”

Kevin Conroy videos the crowd as he makes his entrance.

Kevin Conroy videos the crowd as he makes his entrance.

When the movie finally blipped on to the dual screens, I was first a little concerned with the opening shot of the Gotham cityscape and the awkwardly computer generated clouds. I said to myself, “Oh no. It better not all be like this.” Aside from an obviously computer rendered carousel scene, the rest of the movie was… Batman. The story was engaging, the action was true to the comic and animated series, the voice acting was spot on, the music was well done, and the suspenseful parts were, well, suspenseful.

There are not enough positive things I can say about this movie, especially without spoiling it. There is one scene in particular that might be controversial for Batman and Batgirl fans, but if you take it as a character developing moment, it works well to the story. It it’s not like it ever wasn’t hinted at.

Batman fans, this is a must see! Theatres across the nation as a part of Fathom Events will be showing Batman: The Killing Joke twice on Monday, and due to demand even on Tuesday. The digital HD download will be available on Tuesday, and the DVD and Blu-Ray will be available in August. A must see and buy!

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