It has long been held that Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's 1988 graphic novel “The Killing Joke” is one of the best Batman standalone tales ever told. A gritty script, coupled with sumptuous art, means it stays in the mind long after it's 64 pages have been devoured. Moore, in typical grumpy style, as said that he 'never really liked it', and found it 'far too violent and sexualized'. Odd quotes from a man who had the final say in the script, but let's be honest he's always been an odd bugger. You won't find Moore's name anywhere in the credits to this brand new animated version, simply because that's what he wanted, happy to see all monies go to artist Brian Bolland.
After thoroughly enjoying the 'comic to screen' animated version of Frank Miller's “Dark Knight Returns”, I was still sceptical about this one, mainly because it was never going to look like the comic. Bolland is and was one of the best, most detailed comic artists about, and no way was anyone going to be able to do him justice. As expected, this is in DC's house style, farmed out to the far east presumably to cut costs. It looks as okay as the company's other output, with slightly jerky animation due to a lack of frames and some nice touches throughout.
Comics stalwart Brian Azarello handles the script, and because the source material is only good for about 40 minutes he gives us a pointless extended prologue involving Batgirl, Batman and a villain who has no involvement or relevance to the main story. Batgirl fans should probably skip this, as it really doesn't do her any favours. Once it gets to the actual source material, Azarello lifts dialogue wholesale, even down to the Joker's “I Go Loony” song. This is not, however, a bad thing, as Moore's dialogue is always a pleasure to read or hear, and for the most part doesn't suffer from the shift to animation.
So this is really a mixed bag, with the first half coming across like a separate episode from the TV series that's been bolted on, and the second half doing a good job of living up to the title. After watching it I felt like I wanted to read the comic again, as it's so much better, something I didn't feel so much after “The dark Knight Returns”. Whatever Moore thinks, it's a superbly good read, and will always get recommended over this version. “The Killing Joke” animated is simply an adaptation that wasn't needed, and succeeds mostly in watering down a great piece of literature. There have been a few moans about it's 'adult' themes, but there really is nothing too graphic, although the script does add in a needless extra scene to let you know that the Joker gets horny when he escapes. File under 'watch once then forget'.