The voice acting by Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy is fine, except when it’s not due to bad direction or unconsidered loyalty to the comic book format. All the Joker flashbacks until his transformation – the best part of the movie, bar none – are passed through stock, old-timey sepia filters that accentuate the theatricality of the voice acting and convinced me for about half a minute that the movie had switched to some TV show within the show. When he receives the news that his pregnant wife has passed away, Joker puts on a sullen face but speaks with little audible emotion, and from that point on the audience are drifting in the same boat of apathy. Dialogue is read at a breathless pace with no pauses for comedic or dramatic emphasis, as if the actors were having an after-school hang-out in the bookstore and trying to skim through the book as fast as possible to make it home in time for dinner. As such, it comes across more like an accelerated episode of Scooby Doo than a recommended-for-mature-viewers character study. The last time I read The Killing Joke I took as a kind of horror story about a tragic man who’d forsaken all moral restraints and wanted to prove that any man subjected to similar trauma would also revert to an animalistic state. The movie by comparison looks and sounds like a morning cartoon, and even with the heavily hyped R-rating, it still steers away from nudity, profanity, or atmospheres of terror and dread.
Here’s hoping Suicide Squad has lots of snappy dialogue, likeable and one-dimensional crazy people I can quote ad nauseum to my friends, themes of working together to defeat a bad guy, nobody dying or getting permanently injured, and zero depth of storytelling. If DC would just take some lessons from Marvel, maybe they could start producing child-friendly entertainment like Avengers: Age of Ultron which all of us already know and love.