So I went to the theaters tonight to see The Killing Joke, the animated adaptation of the brilliant 80's graphic novel of the same name. While I was thoroughly entertained and did truly enjoy the movie, I felt that it was necessary to critique the film as well.
I would like to start off by making it very clear that if you are a fan of the Batman series, and especially if you have read and enjoyed The Killing Joke story as much as I, then you must see the movie version. It is a wonderfully done tale that manages to blend the detail and beauty of the novel with the obvious limitations of moving picture. It stays incredibly loyal to the source material (except for the 30 minute or so intro, more on that later), and is magnificently performed by the voice talent, most notably Mark Hamill as the Joker himself. While not his first attempt (he is considered by many the best animated Joker, and in my opinion gives the live action actors a run for their money as well), Hamill himself even admits that this is different than all of the other times he has portrayed the character and he knocks it out of the park.
All that said, there are definitely some flaws with the film.
To begin with, there is a 30 minute introduction story that focuses on the character of Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. Batgirl. It was added to the movie in part to lengthen the run time (the producers have even admitted this), but its main goal was to create a powerful relationship between the characters of Batgirl and Batman. By itself, the story actually holds up rather well, minus a few goofy comments here or there. It does manage to give the Batgirl/Batman relationship a different element, and paired with the right novel it could have definitely created a much stronger emotional connection for the audience to embrace.
My problem with it is this: The Killing Joke has almost no emotional relationship between Batman and Batgirl. While it was an interesting idea in theory, by staying so loyal to the source material during the rest of the movie, you have created an emotional bond that is never really touched upon again. There were, admittedly, some cool philosophical elements brought in regarding "The Abyss", which ties in rather well with the theories that have surrounded the graphic novel regarding the true fate of its antagonist, but other than that there is no real progress created when paired with the rest of the narrative.
Had the introduction been more focused on establishing the love and closeness of Barbara and her father, Commissioner Gordon, then it would have been more positively received. This would have tied into the narrative of the story more, and also would have made the horrors of what happens later have more of an emotional impact. Imagine trying to watch Jim Gordon travel down the "Tunnel of Love" after establishing an even deeper emotional bond than simply having them be related. Done right, this would have been just as horrible and traumatizing for the audience as it was meant to be for the Commissioner.
Another big problem I have with the movie is the pacing. By saying so true to the source material, while adding the 30 minute intro, I feel that the overall pacing was thrown off. Admittedly this story already had some hurdles that would have to be ignored, since the ending is rather hollow and ambiguous (depending on how literal you read it), but some creative manipulation could have definitely helped the overall flow of the story. Simply put, there is a lot of build up for a rather small conclusion. Its difficult to suggest what to change, since the original story segment would have played rather smoothly on its own, but simple things like expanding fight scenes might have been all it needed to really capitalize on the suspense and build up that were there. Instead it felt rushed, almost as if there really was no challenge for Batman to overcome in order to reach the man he was after. He simply throws a punch or two here and finds the Joker. Again, it is tough to point of specifics, especially when the part of what makes it so enjoyable is the loyalty to the source.
But this is really the biggest problem of all, since the production practically shackled itself to the graphic novel. They made only the changes that were truly necessary to make, but otherwise left the source material intact as much as possible. Had they been more willing to play with it a bit, then the introduction could have been much more impactful on the overall emotional journey. The pacing would have been much more manageable, causing the finish not to seem so rushed and small. And even the true finally of the story, which even in the novel seemed rather soft and easy (more in a sec), could have been much more profound and engaging.
The problem with the finale is that there really isn't one, at least on paper. Both the novel and the film end the same way, and without reading into it, there is simply nothing there. Now, its a common theory, and very plausible one as well, that the Joker dies at the end of the story. The idea is that Batman kills him, just off page. And this fits perfectly with the more philosophical discussions that occur during the novel (and even the added intro for the film), but in the movie version, you don't have the time to really analyze and dissect a scene the way you can a panel in a book. Had the creative team added some more hints, or a phrase, then maybe they could have captured the same effect of the novel. Instead it just seems to end, with only the readers knowing what could possibly be happening.
Now I'm not saying they should have just flat out shown Batman kill the Joker, but one possibility would have been to simply change the Joker's laugh slightly. In the final film, he is laughing when Batman joins in. Eventually the Joker stops while Batman continues to laugh. This is fine, but had the Jokers laugh seemed almost painful or anguished, this would have created the effect that maybe Batman is physically hurting him without ever directly addressing the possibility. Something as simple as that would have changed the whole tone of those last precious moments on film, without ever having to directly answer that often theorized question of what happened at the end of the novel.
And that is the sort of thing that this movie needs. It simply needed some nudges in the right places in order to really capture the tone and feeling of the source material. A few more "creative decisions" that could have simply helped the story along without ever really changing anything. Again, I want to emphasize that I did truly enjoy the film, and it was an excellent adaptation of one of my all time favorite graphic novels, but there was nothing really there that made me want watch it again, or show it to someone over just handing them the book. There was nothing to draw in an audience that is new to the material, or really to keep an audience that has read the book.
To twist a line from another Batman movie, it is the adaptation that The Killing Joke needs, but not the one that it deserves.
Went to Copper with some buddies. It wasn't the best conditions, but we made it a pretty fun day regardless. Here's some stuff from later in the day when we were already pretty tired, but I promise the earlier stuff was better.
Sorry I'm a little late on the update, but I figured it's about time I shared some photos from my Breckenridge trip. It was an absolute blast spending the last couple weeks working with some real pro crews for a change. We were shooting some footage for John Deere, and I just wanted to give a big thanks and shout out to Motion Adrenaline and Deja View for both bringing me on and teaching me along the way.
Anyway, here is a bit of a pic dump, and they are all candids, but I hope you enjoy them.
So what I'm about to say is probably going to be considered complete and utter blasphemy.
I HATE the last couple of seasons of Doctor Who and its writing. And here's why...
I feel that the writing has become very stale and unimaginative the last few seasons. Now, I'm not saying that the individual episodes are bad or unwatchable, but it has become apparent that the writing team has given up on trying to tie in the "big mysteries."
What I am referring to are the "Impossible Girl" and the "Why This Face?" storylines. (I'll admit there could be more to the Face line, as they only just "answered" the question this past week, but please listen first.)
The first major storyline that I was completely disappointed in was Clara Oswald's Impossible Girl. It occurred during Matt Smith's reign as Doctor, and simply put had the most unfulfilling (and confusing) conclusion possible. For those that don't remember, the Clara's character had appeared in a few episodes prior to becoming the next companion, but she appeared as separate, unconnected characters. This remained a mystery until they explained it all away as Clara getting ripped apart in the heart of the Tardis, which in turn sent her through time to help the Doctor in various ways.
This was a very poor explanation in my opinion, since Clara could have become much more as a character (whom many are not thrilled with already) simply by putting some time and effort into solving the mystery. Not to mention, I didn't actually realize that the show had finished the storyline at first, it wasn't until I watched the episode again that I understood that it was their attempt at a conclusion. This is in part because they then set up William Hurt's appearance as the War Doctor immediately after this all occurred, distracting me from digesting the information provided.
So, what could they have done differently?
I had many different theories as to what was really happening with this storyline (as I'm sure many of you did as well). But one of my favorite theories involved the discovery that Clara was, in fact, a time lord herself.
Now bear with me here.
Imagine if Clara was a time lord, but instead of changing appearances whenever she regenerates, she appears the same but with no memory of her previous life. We have seen it to some degree before, with David Tennant regenerating himself using the psychic energy of the world's population, and also in the Doctor's inability to remember things quite the same way after regeneration.
So let's assume that Clara is some sort of mutant time lord, and that she has been following the Doctor her entire life, helping from the shadows. This not only explains the flash back of her helping the First Doctor pick the TARDIS, but would also allow for us to discover that she has kept track of the TARDIS (which she picked out) the whole time. The only reason that she even becomes the Doctor's companion is to further help him in a moral way (she already has the role of essentially playing his conscious to degree). Seeing how Matt Smith's Doctor was struggling to overcome the loss of Amy and Rory, Clara stepped in, following the one instinct and memory that she has each life, which is to help the Doctor.
Now, for the horribly sad but fantastic part of this tale. If you remember, one of the first times Clara is introduced, she turns out to actually be a human that was turned into a Dalek, slowly losing her ability to control her mind. Now flash forward to this season, when Missy puts Clara into a Dalek's armor, and then attempts to have the Doctor kill the Dalek. This could have been the ultimate full circle on Clara's storyline as a Companion. Now, if I were a writer on the show, I would change a couple things about this. Namely, I would let Peter Capaldi figure out that Clara is in the Dalek, but soon realize there is very little he can do to help her. Clara, recognizing her time is running out (and knowing about the Doctor's past encounters with her previous lives at this point) remembers the first time they met. It dawns on the newly named time lord that their first encounter was, in fact, also their last, and that it was not a previous life of hers, but actually her last life. She boards the TARDIS one last time, as a Dalek, and says her fair wells as she drops herself off aboard the Dalek ship in which they first met, feigning her ignorance of the oncoming events.
I don't know about you, but I would have cried like a little girl if this had happened.
This not only makes for a far more interesting take on the character of Clara Oswald, but also for a fantastic send off for Jenna Coleman, who is rumored to be on her way out soon anyway. It also would bring back some of the darker tones that seem to be missing from newer seasons. I for one would love to see some more anger and darkness that existed under Eccleston and Tennant. Anyone remember the "Are you my mummy" episode? It's still creepy and fantastic to this day.
Now, as for the mystery of Peter Capaldi's face.
In the last episode that just aired, it is finally touched upon that Peter The Doctor is not the first time that we have seen Peter Capaldi in the show. He was in fact the patriarch of a Roman family that David Tennant saved from Mount Vesuvius many years ago. Now, the show tried to make it out as this significant revelation that The Doctor is sending himself a message about his duties and abilities, but it really only acts as a means to justify keeping Maisie Williams around for multiple episodes. Let's face it, if The Doctor wanted to save her life, he would have done something about it.
Quick side note, I actually like the idea of her character becoming immortal, but the fact that she can't age (based off of the teaser for next week's episode) is annoying. Unless she just ages slowly, this could have been the perfect moment for the show to answer another age old question, which is how Captain Jack Harkness is immortal. At some point, an older Maisie Williams meets a young Jack and falls in love with him (who is actually trying to con her), and she gives him the other field kit that makes him virtually immortal.
Just spitballing here.
Anyway, back to Peter's face.
The fact that the writers took this golden opportunity to create an elaborate story and threw it away as a lesson in morality is simply poor writing. They could have even kept in the whole "ripples, not tidal waves" concept, and gone even further with it. Let's say that, in fact, the Roman Peter is not actually just a Roman but is The Doctor instead. Through some unforeseen means, he is trapped the same moments before Vesuvius erupts, and is forced to cross his own timeline in order to save not only himself, but possibly prevent something from happening to Clara or David Tennant's Doctor. Not only would he definitely be creating tidal waves, but as long as the stakes are high enough, you could create some very tense action on screen.
This obviously could just be the tip of iceberg as far as the writers are concerned, since the season is still young. But Capaldi is a fantastic actor, and he is in need of a much fuller and more compelling storyline that what they have given him so far. Either way, it is time to step your game up Doctor Who. I will continue to love you, but let's take some risks and pull on some heart strings, because even when you do (the premiere was great), you still play it safe and refuse to rock the boat. Have a little fun, because even though fanboys hate making drastic changes, sometimes you can win them over if they are done right.
So I realize that I've been neglecting this part of the site quite some bit and I would like to apologize. Therefore, in order to get things started with a bang, I'm going to share some of the random photos I took of the Super moon Eclipse today.
Now, I'd like to make clear that this was not some professional setup or anything. I am currently on vacation in Nags Head, NC and I brought my camera along to have. I did not bring a tripod, even though I was aware this was coming up, since I assumed my dad would have one (he always does). Alas, he did not, and it was super cloudy too. Therefore, these are the best pictures I could get, but whatever
The first two are just early stages of the eclipse, with some really cool cloud cover.
After that is a picture of the beach. This was taken at 18mm 3.5, 25600iso, and 30sec exposure. It was pretty much pitch black when I took the photo. (I actually just put the camera on the railing and hit the button, had no idea what was in frame).
Finally, we have a couple pictures of the Super moon. The first is when I was still trying to handhold the camera. I tried just about every pose I could think of in order to hold still enough to even come close (3-6sec exposure). This was a failure that just happens to look cool. Then I finally found a coaster holder that I could rest the camera on in order to hold it still. That's where the other pictures are from.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the random photos, and I promise I'll actually start updating this with some consistency. I have a couple personal projects coming up, so hopefully I'll share some of that stuff, but otherwise just look forward to some snowboarding pictures and videos.
Enjoy the rest of the fall, and I'll talk to you soon.