One of the most acclaimed graphic novels of all time has now come to
the big screen. Not only is this one of the most acclaimed novels ever
but it's one of the most controversial. The story is basically an
origin tale for the infamous Batman villain, The Joker. When this movie
was initially announced back at the beginning of 2016 there was some
serious hype surrounding it. Especially when it received an R rating.
One thing that really made me nervous though was how quickly this
actually released. Obviously, it could've been in production long
before it was announced back at the beginning of the year, but after
seeing the film, I don't think that's the case.
The first thirty minutes of the film is a kind of prelude involving,
mostly, Batgirl. It talks about how she came to quit being said
superhero and draws a thread between her and Batman. Now, this story is
controversial for a reason. Not only does it explore tough themes but
it shows the details of these horrible things. The story in the graphic
novel is brutal, uncompromising, and pretty tough to get through.
However the film is just the opposite. It tries hard to retell the
story seen in the novel, yet any emotional drama is all but lost. This
mainly has to do with the length of the film itself. Being only 80
minutes, it's rather short. As I said, the first thirty minutes
revolves around Batgirl. And this segment of time is absolutely the
worst to sit through. It's tedious, overly long, and so cliché and
predictable that there's nothing remotely enjoyable.
While, this part of the film is undoubtedly the worst from a
storytelling standpoint, there are a number of things that remained
consistently bad throughout. Most notably was the animation. From a
studio like Warner Bros you'd expect some decent art work, but not
here. The back drops nor art design is well put together. It's clunky,
with no style to be found.
It looks like they took the animation from a rough draft of the
animated series and colored it in. This issue becomes even more clear
whenever it attempts 3D animation. The other blaring issue that
continues through the film is the music. Which is completely contrived
and formulated to the point of it being so cliché that is, in fact not
As the film ended, a crowd that once cheered for the lights dimming,
was left in stunned silence. Not a good stunned silence like you get
after watching 'Gone Girl', this type of silence is the kind where
people don't know what they just saw. For me, this had to do with the
complete lack of any emotional resonance. When it attempts to recreate
the power of the novel it fails.
It doesn't commit enough to the drama of the story. Even with its R
rating it doesn't draw the same toughness the novel does. It lacks the
rawness that the novel has to make it's audience queasy. It's not
graphic enough to be disturbing and it's not lighthearted enough to be
fun. It just bounces from scene to scene with little connecting one to
another. The best way to describe it is that it goes from this scene to
that scene and than it ends. That's about it. This is one film that
should have been great. All the pieces are there. It has a great studio
behind it, an excellent voice team, and a brilliant story. But it lacks
the emotional power that the novel has. Even though it has its R rating
it doesn't fully commit to it, or anything for that matter. Without
coherent direction and the overall first draft vibe of the film it's
hardly the experience we've been lead to believe it is.