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When I reviewed the graphic novel, my final verdict was Platinum. Then as I’ve mentioned already, me and the girlfriend went to the cinema to watch the animated movie. I don’t know exactly if there’s any differences on the DVD/Blu-Ray version. My guess is that the cinema version had some extras that could be part of some bonus perhaps. So here I’ll review everything that was shown on the cinema. So let’s see if the animated version of this graphic novel deserves Platinum as well – or not.
The movie version I’ve watched starts with an interview with Mark Hamill. He says a few words about Star Wars and then explains how he became the voice of the Joker. He tells us about his first reaction about the role, how he prepared himself, and how he proceeded to give the proper voice, and vibe to this iconic character. The most difficult was, of course, getting the right laugh. But we learn how much Mark Hamill is a fan of this character, and for everyone who has never heard him as the Joker, we can only trust him and be confident that his work will be amazing.
After this exclusive interview, the film begins. And every fan of the graphic novel will start wondering. Because the movie doesn’t start like the graphic novel. Actually, it opens with Barbara Gordon’s voice (Batgirl) explaining us a bit of the story of Batman, her ownself, etc. She does mention that “it won’t start the way we’ve expected” – nice pun.
Warning: Major spoilers ahead.
In this new beginning, Batgirl fights alongside Batman in a case that becomes too personal. A tension grows between Batgirl and Batman. When she’s without her mask, she talks to her best friend about the “relationship” she has with her teacher of Yoga (cool analogy) and how frustrated she feels. At the same time, the case she’s working on makes her angrier and reckless. The villain she’s after lures her into trap after trap as he supposedly falls in love with Batgirl. She wants to catch him desperately and make Batman proud. She becomes too involved and Batman tells her to stay away, but the tension between the two only increases. Until…surprise surprise, she and Batman have sex! Now, this is something that bothered many fans. First of all, the way they end up on the roof makes sense after the whole tension between the two. It feels weird, yes. But it does make sense. Then they resolve the case, they catch the bad guy, and Batgirl decides to step away from Batman and night activity. The ending scene of this introduction involves Batman in a crime scene that looks just like one of the Joker’s.
And there it starts, the first scene of the graphic novel when Batman arrives at the Asylum. And right there, you start to understand. They couldn’t have completely replicated the graphic novel on the screen. For those who’ve never read it, but also for the sake of consistency, they had to add a beginning that would not only lead to the actual main story of the graphic novel, but that would also emphasize some bits of it. Now, I try to imagine the drawings of the graphic novel on the screen, and I’m not sure it’s doable without CGI. Instead, this style of animation needs more depth to give as much realism as the graphic novel. That’s where the sound, the music, the voice but also the connection from the first part help.
It’s difficult to give life to something that has been created on the paper, and even more to create something that would match the idea in everyone’s heads. When we read, we develop our own idea of the sounds, the voices and music in our head. We create our own atmosphere from what is given to us. In the movie, this atmosphere is forced and it’s chosen by someone other than us. Honestly ? Everything in the movie was close to how I imagined when I’ve read the novel for the first time. The sound of the steps, the rain, it’s perfect. The music fits just right and is impeccable. The voices are brilliant. The laugh of Mark Hamill is as creepy as required, and it suits this Joker.
In the end of the movie, we have another little extra after the credits. We learn how the music was made, and why they’ve made these choices for the soundtrack. They really wanted something creepy but also related to the childhood. Something really weird and disturbing. That’s what they did with the song that the Joker sings when James Gordon is in the ghost train. They say it was the most difficult part since it doesn’t even feel like a song when you read it. To be honest, once again, it matched the style in my head, so it was perfect.
Overall, the movie was awesome, and longer than I expected. It was a real pleasure to have an introduction by Mark Hamill and this extra in the end about the soundtrack. I always watch every single bonus included in any Blu-Rays, and to have this type of material on the big screen was a first time experience. I personally enjoyed the first part with Batgirl. It was maybe a bit too long and the villain was not enough charismatic, the case not that interesting. But I think the goal here was to build the relationship between Batman and Batgirl. She’s frustrated and wants to make Batman proud. At the same time, he’s overprotective and almost even possessive of her. I liked what they did with their love scene. The connection to the second part – the actual graphic novel plot – is smooth and we get easily into the story. The moment Batgirl is shot becomes more emotional thanks to the first part. This creepily disturbing graphic novel on the big screen is a whole new experience, and the final result was a fine complement to the reading part.
I loved it, and for me, nothing changed. They couldn’t do it better.
To me, this is Platinum.