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Batman: The Killing Joke by Michael McCuistion, Kristopher Carter & Lolita Ritmanis (Review)

posted Sep 20, 2016, 12:29 AM by Leo Mayr

Batman: The Killing Joke
 tells one of DC comics's darker stories. The animated feature centers around the conflict between Batman and his most memorable adversary, the Joker. While it doesn't look particularily stunning, the movie does a great job at telling its story in an engaging way. Part of that comes from the effective score by a trio of composers who have plenty of experience in the DC animation world.

The score has everything you'd expect from this kind of movie. Fast paced action, dark suspenseful moments and a surprising amount of emotional moments come together in one nice package. The movie spends a lot of time on the relationship between Batman and Batgirl, so there are a lot of great character moments to be found. The action is loud and effective, yet not very spectacular. The darker moments never grow beyond their purpose of underlining the scenes on screen. Pretty standard stuff so far. Things get exciting when the Joker flashbacks start, short scenes showing how one of the most iconic supervillains came to be. The music for these flashbacks is more reminiscient of an old detective film, even somewhat melancholic, a perfect choice, given the nature of the origin story. Besides these flashback scenes, there isn't a whole lot else to the music. Besides some basic narrative structures, the score seems to be mostly made for the individual scenes more so than as a storytelling device. While the majority of the score never moves past its most basic functionality, the Joker flashbacks and a great "End Credits" track stand out from the rest. Part of that comes from the lack of a central main theme that could have served as a means of tying together the different pieces of the story. Instead we are left with a collection of effective tracks that do little to achive a sense of continuity. The score also includes "I Go Looney", a song by Mark Hamill's excellent Joker that is definitely worth a listen.

Batman: The Killing Joke isn't a bad score. It does what it is supposed to do and has a few great ideas, yet ultimately, the experience suffers from a lack of thematic development. While there are great emotional moments, there is no real sense of progression throughout the score. Ultimately, what could have been a great score is watered down by a lack of thematic identity and development.