Howdy ladies and gents, how’s it going? So this morning I was bored and felt like watching something Batman oriented, so I decided to watch the animated adaptation of Batman: The Killing Joke and while most reviews for this animated film have been made available online already, after I finished the film I knew I’d have to talk about it. Note spoilers ahead in the first big paragraph…
Now here’s the thing, I haven’t read The Killing Joke graphic novel, why? Because I’m a busy that’s why haha. But seriously it’s been on my list of reading material for years, however, I’ve been busy with college, uni, work and my TV bingeing to check it out. But since I’ve been hearing so much mixed buzz surrounding this film I had to check it out, and yeah I can now understand the mixed response for this film for sure.
Here’s a plot summary:
“As Batman hunts for the escaped Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime attacks the Gordon family to prove a diabolical point mirroring his own fall into madness.”
First thing that’s worth mentioning is the fact that this film primarily focuses on Barbra Gordon’s Batgirl for around the first half hour and then around 28 minutes in the actual Killing Joke material kicks in, and while Batgirl’s story was pretty interesting, it also presents the film’s first two issues: 1) Batgirl’s story feels a little separate from the main meat of the film and 2) SPOILERS Batgirl has sex with Batman… Yeah that happens, but more on that in a minute. Firstly I understand the filmmakers intention of fleshing out Batgirl’s story for this film, and certain elements were interesting, a lot of it didn’t feel as captivating as it should have. And secondly, heading into the spoiler-based territory again, seeing Batgirl and Batman get it on gave me such an awkward feeling, even though I had this part of the film spoiled before I saw it, in the scene when it takes place you could see it coming, and it was just strange and a little out of character.
So with the actual Killing Joke story, as someone who’s technically experiencing it for the first time it was pretty interesting and explored a lot of interesting themes and ideas when it comes to the Joker’s backstory, the horrific events that befall Jim and Barbra Gordon and Batman’s relationship with the Joker. Some of these story and character moments were pretty dark, haunting and thought-provoking. That being said, I feel like this film had a lot of dark, mature and psychological themes and issues that it tried to present to the viewer, and while some of it comes across well, other times it felt like it didn’t dive deep enough, like it was pulling its punches on some of these issues that are real and tough to talk about even though it had an R-rating. And just for my own personal preference I enjoy my Batman stories the most when there’s a balance of the seriousness and light-hearted material, and since this film was more serious I just didn’t enjoy it as much. As for the characters I thought they were all pretty interesting, though the most important people was the Joker, Batman and Commissioner Gordon, all of which had the best material, though the Joker was the most fleshed out and captivating of the whole cast. Oh and we have to talk about the voice cast as well. I thought Tara Strong did well as Barbra Gordon and I enjoyed Ray Wise as Jim Gordon too, but at the end of the day for me its all about Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and Joker, my favourite veterans from Batman: TAS, they do well but I felt like their performances weren’t as charismatic or memorable as a lot of their previous work, that being said when he was on-point, Hamill really did well with material.
And finally when it comes to the presentation it’s a bit of a mixed bag, visually the art and animation varies between being pretty good to being a little basic and questionable when it came to the fluidity and use of 3D against 2D animation. Plus the music by Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion and Lolita Ritmanis was alright, not very memorable. In the end Batman: The Killing Joke, while it has its moments, felt like a bit of a let down when compared to previous DC animated films I’ve seen when it comes to the execution of the story and animation and while it was interesting, I don’t know if I’ll be watching it again any time soon.
So have you seen this film and if so what did you think of it? Be sure to drop your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll see ya on the next review, laters! 😀
August 1, 2016 at 9:58 pm
I’ve heard of Killing Joke before, a lot of people cite it as one of the best Batman stories, but I never read it. You did a really good job of capturing all your thoughts on the animated version and explaining the specifics about what you liked and didn’t. What I knew of Killing Joke going in is that it’s a Joker story so I was wondering why the first half hour didn’t mention him. It’s a bit different how it switched from Batgirl’s perspective and story, then into Batman and Joker’s story. I wished it made me like Batgirl more in the first part. I liked Hamill’s performance of how he voiced flashback Joker versus present day. Overall I was hoping for more, but some decent stuff in there too.