"Batman: The Killing Joke" Animated Feature News & Discussion Thread (Spoilers)

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-batmat-

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Anyone else saw the blu ray artwork in the end of the trailer? Looks like a remake of the original comic art. Looks sweet!
 
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I'm still more excited about this release than most titles in the last several years, (always wanted the Killing Joke in animation, and can't wait to see the new Barb material) but have the budgets for these things been seriously slashed? The models are so simple, and yet the animation is so stiff and flat. It lacks.. depth? Dimension? With such simple designs the animation ought to be more fluid than normal, yet it's so rigid and jerky. I don't know how to describe what I'm seeing that's wrong, but it is dissapointing. I noticed it in the sneak peak but just figured the scenes weren't finished. I can see why people are comparing it to Flash animation, though it isn't as bad as that.. But it looks poorer than some of the stuff they're given us on TV in recent years, let alone these usually impressive looking titles (sans Son of Batman and its ilk.) But Sam Liu is more than a competent director, and with the rest of the cast and crew involved, I believe they'll turn in something great despite any limitations that may have been imposed on them.
 
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Otaku-sempai

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I'm still more excited about this release than most titles in the last several years, (always wanted the Killing Joke in animation, and can't wait to see the new Barb material) but have the budgets for these things been seriously slashed? The models are so simple, and yet the animation is so stiff and flat. It lacks.. depth? Dimension? With such simple designs the animation ought to be more fluid than normal, yet it's so rigid and jerky. I don't know how to describe what I'm seeing that's wrong, but it is dissapointing. I noticed it in the sneak peak but just figured the scenes weren't finished. I can see why people are comparing it to Flash animation, though it isn't as bad as that.. But it looks poorer than some of the stuff they're given us on TV in recent years, let alone these usually impressive looking titles (sans Son of Batman and its ilk.) But Sam Liu is more than a competent director, and with the rest of the cast and crew involved, I believe they'll turn in something great despite any limitations that may have been imposed on them.
I'm going to speculate that it is not so much that the budget has been slashed, but after nine years an average of $3.5 million is just not sufficient anymore to produce quality limited cell animation.
 

Yojimbo

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A lot of people in the comment sections of sites that posted this are saying the animation looks like cheap flash. I'm having a hard time arguing with them. Was hoping someone on this forum might have a more well-informed opinion to explain why it looks that way.
I sat through Akom animation when I was a child watching B:TAS on cathode ray tube TV. I sat through Akom rewatching B:TAS on those DVD sets on slightly better TVs. My skin is thick. Moi will not fail us on this movie's animation. It's just a 1 minute 26 second trailer.
 

Otaku-sempai

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I sat through Akom animation when I was a child watching B:TAS on cathode ray tube TV. I sat through Akom rewatching B:TAS on those DVD sets on slightly better TVs. My skin is thick. Moi will not fail us on this movie's animation. It's just a 1 minute 26 second trailer.
I don't know. I've honestly got to wonder if Moi has overextended itself and needed to farm out some of the work on this. It really does not look up to par.
 
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I sat through Akom animation when I was a child watching B:TAS on cathode ray tube TV. I sat through Akom rewatching B:TAS on those DVD sets on slightly better TVs. My skin is thick. Moi will not fail us on this movie's animation. It's just a 1 minute 26 second trailer.

But that was decades ago, and at a time when Batman the animated series was just beginning and DC animation had not yet become the paragon of special interest titles (of quality) that it evolved into. It was just a 90's cartoon on Fox kids. We're talking about a highly anticipated adaptation of one of the most influential (though admittedly controversial) Batman stories of all time. Look at the fluidity, depth and detail of animation in Year One and the Dark Knight Returns. Killing Joke should on a technical level at least be on par with those. One shouldn't have to be reminded of the AKOM days and just roll with it becuase it's been worse before. Anyway, my personal dissapointment in the animation is more a sympathy for the creators, because the only conclusion that can be drawn is that resources have been stretched thin for them, but I know that their work ethic is not lax. Especially not with this story.

I don't know. I've honestly got to wonder if Moi has overextended itself and needed to farm out some of the work on this. It really does not look up to par.

That could very well be the issue to, and if that's the case it's a real shame, and Timm and Co. must be frustrated with the results. Anyway it's really not that bad, just not especially good either.
 

Otaku-sempai

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It's mostly just that first 15 seconds of the trailer that concerns me, especially the shot of Batman walking past Dent's cell and he and Gordon entering the Joker's cell.
 

Spider-Man

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Maybe they slowed some of the animation down, like when Batman is walking, which could be why it looks bad. But I have to agree that the animation based on the the trailer does not look good. Not flash animation but pretty weak. After how nicely Batman: Year One was animated this is a letdown. Even the TDKR movie was animated better than this and I found that movie to be just average when it came to animation. This looks pretty subpar. Everything looked flat and lacking dimension. I hope it was just a poor use of clips and some techniques used that made the animation worse than it actually is. The dialogue wasn't from the same scenes they showed for the most part so hopefully that will be better too. But yeah it looks disappointing. I was expecting it to look very stylized but this was not good.
 

BigFatHairyDeal

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Yeah, I feel like the opening segment with Batman's walking was edited from the actual movie film, or there's an intentional effect in place so that it's not supposed to be a straightforward shot.

And absolutely nothing in this line comes close to the utter blandness/mediocrity of the visual package that was Superman vs. the Elite. No, I'm not still bitter or anything. :p
 

Troy Troodon

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Maybe the animation in the trailer was actually more finished in the film itself. I seen that time and again with trailers in contrast with movies, the trailer show scenes that are unfinished, but those same scenes are much more polished in the film itself.
 

Otaku-sempai

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Yeah, I feel like the opening segment with Batman's walking was edited from the actual movie film, or there's an intentional effect in place so that it's not supposed to be a straightforward shot.

And absolutely nothing in this line comes close to the utter blandness/mediocrity of the visual package that was Superman vs. the Elite. No, I'm not still bitter or anything. :p
If the sequence was slowed down then that might explain why it feels so awkward. We can only hope.

EDIT: I went back and watched the Sneak Peek again; I don't see the issues in it that have come up in the trailer. I think that the trailer footage was tinkered with and I feel better now.
 
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Maybe the animation in the trailer was actually more finished in the film itself. I seen that time and again with trailers in contrast with movies, the trailer show scenes that are unfinished, but those same scenes are much more polished in the film itself.

What you say about VFX in live action trailers is true, but i don't know if that also applies to 2D animated features. I'm by no means an expert, but from the little glimpses from various interviews over the years i got the impression that they get already finished animation from overseas and demands for re-takes of scenes at that point are fairly rare. I'd gladly be wrong, so someone correct me if that is the case.

However, you guys have brought up a good point about the footage possibly being slowed down for dramatic effect in the trailer, i could see that being the case and it would account for the rather stilted waking animation in a few scenes.

Sadly, the art still doesn't look that great in several scenes, regardless of this. I don't even mind that it isn't a close approximation of Bolland's art, that was never in the cards on these budgets and i welcome a more simplified, stylized approach (JL: Gods & Monsters looked really nice), but what i'm seeing here looks like the least appealing art in one of these since Superman vs. The Elite. That doesn't mean i can't still enjoy the story, but it's a bit disheartening to get simplified designs AND questionable animation quality. It's easier to overlook flaws in one of them if the other one is great. It's unfortunate that such a prestigious and long awaited project didn't get at least the same treatment as previous notable adaptations. I wonder if it had been better if this came out a few years earlier, when sales in the line were higher and (presumably) warranted higher budgets.

I'm typically quite forgiving of some of the inherent shortcomings in these projects and get annoyed when people on sites i visit unfairly bash them for things that are out of the hands of the creators, but as someone has mentioned, in this case i find it hard to defend what we've seen in the trailer, especially since a trailer should get you excited, instead of doing the opposite.

I'm still eagerly looking forward to see it though and hope that it's just a case of a bad trailer.

Edit:

I've just had a look at the footage from the Killing Joke sneak preview and it starts with the same scene of Batman walking towards the Asylum. It's edited a bit differently and i might be imagining things, but it does seem like he's walking a bit faster than in the trailer, which would confirm that the beginning of the trailer is slowed down to match the music. Can you guys have a look at both and compare them to confirm my mind isn't playing tricks on me? You can also find the footage from the preview on youtube, just type in Killing Joke and look for a trailer posted 3 weeks ago. It's a fan edit of the footage from the preview, not the actual trailer. I won't post it here for obvious reasons.

Edit 2:

Having just rewatched both the trailer and the sneak preview, i take back the comparison to Superman vs. the Elite, this looks much more pleasing to my eyes, warts and all.
 
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Yojimbo

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But that was decades ago, and at a time when Batman the animated series was just beginning and DC animation had not yet become the paragon of special interest titles (of quality) that it evolved into. It was just a 90's cartoon on Fox kids. We're talking about a highly anticipated adaptation of one of the most influential (though admittedly controversial) Batman stories of all time. Look at the fluidity, depth and detail of animation in Year One and the Dark Knight Returns. Killing Joke should on a technical level at least be on par with those. One shouldn't have to be reminded of the AKOM days and just roll with it becuase it's been worse before. Anyway, my personal dissapointment in the animation is more a sympathy for the creators, because the only conclusion that can be drawn is that resources have been stretched thin for them, but I know that their work ethic is not lax. Especially not with this story.
No. What I'm saying is what WickedChild described sounded like typical Internet fan entitlement. Those who wouldn't know bad animation if it hit them in the face. I cited Akom because that's easy enough to envision. I wasn't suggesting rolling over and take it.

Adapting Frank Miller's aesthetic into animation is different than trying to adapt Brian Bolland which was why they compromised and used Kevin Nowlan's. Bolland's technique is too complex or detailed I'm not sure of the right way to phrase it. I think his tutorials are still online, those give some insight on his style. I think I saw a little of Dusty Abell in there (think Under the Red Hood), he might have been on the design team for this movie.

I've seen the gambit of 'this is a bad trailer,' 'bad animation,' 'bad design,' etc. But I think it's just bad editing and perhaps not enough time to bang out a decent trailer. Sure, art is subjective and trailers are supposed to be awesome and hook you into a movie but I don't think the minute 26 trailer plus the sneak peek is an accurate sampling of Moi's work on the movie or the direction of the character design. What it did succeed in was setting the tone, with the lines chosen, imo.
 
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No. What I'm saying is what WickedChild described sounded like typical Internet fan entitlement. Those who wouldn't know bad animation if it hit them in the face. I cited Akom because that's easy enough to envision. I wasn't suggesting rolling over and take it.

Adapting Frank Miller's aesthetic into animation is different than trying to adapt Brian Bolland which was why they compromised and used Kevin Nowlan's. Bolland's technique is too complex or detailed I'm not sure of the right way to phrase it. I think his tutorials are still online, those give some insight on his style. I think I saw a little of Dusty Abell in there (think Under the Red Hood), he might have been on the design team for this movie.

I've seen the gambit of 'this is a bad trailer,' 'bad animation,' 'bad design,' etc. But I think it's just bad editing and perhaps not enough time to bang out a decent trailer. Sure, art is subjective and trailers are supposed to be awesome and hook you into a movie but I don't think the minute 26 trailer plus the sneak peek is an accurate sampling of Moi's work on the movie or the direction of the character design. What it did succeed in was setting the tone, with the lines chosen, imo.

I misunderstood your writing/reasoning, sorry, sometimes intent is hard to gauge in text.

I think it was the right call not attempting to ape Bolland's style, and Nowlan is a great substitute. I'm not suggesting I dislike the art style. Others have brought up Superman vs The Elite, saying the animation was poor. I think this is an unfair assessment and the animation was well done, it was the character designs that left so very much to be desired. I might seem to be digressing, but the reason I say this, is because I quite like the character designs for this Killing Joke feature, it's their execution in animation we've seen so far that looks unpolished and flat like a flash cartoon (note that I don't mean the animation looks as poor as flash work, only that it looks.. unanimated? Semi-Depthless?) I admit that what we've seen so far is a very minute portion of the film, but I believe the animation is done and the trailer accurately represents what will be its overall presentation. Under the Red Hood was compently animated and can't complain, but I would say it looks more like a TV episode in comparison to Green Lantern: First Flight or Wonder Woman. But it at least did what all competent animation does; lulls you into thinking the two-dimensional world you're looking at follows three-dimensional rules. The animation in bits of killing joke isn't fooling my brain is all, but I'm determined to get used to it, because I'm quite excited about the film. All I'm saying is that the issues that people take with it seem valid to me, especially if it comes from people who aren't used to scrutinizing animation and are just casual watchers.
 
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Otaku-sempai

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Interesting that you bring up the character designs, RTC; it struck me when Batman and Gordon are entering the Joker's cell that the designs seemed flat and weren't working very well for me. Do we know yet who is the character designer on this film?
 

Pfeiffer-Pfan

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Here's my thoughts based on what I've been reading online:

1.) The Voices

Fans have spent years asking for an adaptation of this movie with Conroy/Hamill in the definitive roles. Here's Bruce Timm giving us what we wanted and suddenly it's not good enough. Surprise, Surprise.

The fact of the matter is, this is not live-action, it's animation and regardless of their age, both actors are still young enough to play their respective parts. Better yet, they are still doing a darn good job of it. Even worse are those that say, ''Eugh Conroy is too old to voice Batman at 60... get Bruce Greenwood back!''. Greenwood will be 60 this year, folks and actually has a more naturally older sounding voice than Conroy ever did.

In regards to Conroy, I'll agree that when it comes to video games (Such as Injustice and the Arkham series) he has lost some of his subtlety, almost as if he is playing Batman as the pop icon he is and not the character he portayed during the DCAU days. There is a bombast to his delivery at times that suggests a ''Look, I'm using my BATMAN voice''. However, under Timm's (frankly) stern guidance he always finds just the right tone and I feel he has gotten it just right on this project. His opening speech in the trailer sounds wonderful and as if it was lifted from his JLU recording days. I'm thrilled he's on this project, because 60 or no 60 and with the correct guidance, he is still the best we've ever had.

Hamill equally sounds wonderful. What we've heard so far is just a taster of his FULL performance and I'm sure he'll blow us away. I agree, the ''Why aren't you laughing?'' line sounds weird, but it's all creative choice and he can't be blamed for a take Timm and Gleason have ultimately chosen.

2.) The Animation

These things are made over the course of a year or so and with a reported budget of $3.5 million. I doubt that gives the team alot of time to be too playful or experimental with the product and as a result, they need to stick to what they know best.

Yes, the colours seem a little flat and the opening shots of Batman seem sluggish, but I'm still waiting for the final product before jumping to any conclusions. Also, always remember to differentiate between the character designs and animation... I like the designs, but maybe the animation is simpy not popping as much as it should.

Would I have liked a more experiental animation style? Of course, but then I'm also sure Bruce Timm would have loved a 3 year production cycle and a budget of $10 million. It's just not the market we live in.

Bottom line, I think this will surpise us. Has Timm ever really let us down before?
 
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b.t.

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Just a few things to comment on here:

Several shots in the trailer have definitely been slowed down digitally (wish they wouldn't do that!) , hence the choppiness.

Jon Suzuki was the lead designer on TKJ and for the record I think he did an
absolutely stellar job.

Kevin and Mark were WAY at the top of their respective games when they did the voice recordings. As were Tara and Ray. All I can say is, once the movie comes out, if you don't like their performances then you don't like ice cream (if I may paraphrase Sinatra).

Answer studio in Japan animated the film, not Moi -- and I think they did a superb job.

Flat designs? Cheap-looking too-sparse backgrounds? I dunno, I think it's one of the best-looking movies I've ever made. Shrug.
 
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Thanks for taking the time to write us and confirm a few things Mr. Timm. Good to know some shots were slowed down digitally and aren't really that rigid.

Thanks for the confirmation on Jon Sukuki for character designer as well. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to recall he also did the character designs for Superman vs The Elite.

The Answer Studio huh? They're responsible for Transformers Animated and the Damien-centric Batman films. Personally I'm not an admirer of their work on those projects. But I'm still really anticipating this film, and I'm ready to be blown away by the voice work by Mark, Kevin, Tara, and Ray Wise breathing life into Alan Moore's text.

[EDIT: spelling]
 
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