“All it takes is one bad day”
The Killing Joke stars Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League), Mark Hamill (Star Wars, Batman: The Animated Series), Tara Strong (The Fairly OddParents, Princess Mononoke), Ray Wise (RoboCop, Jeepers Creepers 2) and is directed by Sam Liu (Batman: Year One, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths).
When The Joker escapes from Arkham Asylum, it’s up to Batman yet again to stop his evil plan to torture the Gordon family. Only this time his plan is really evil and if Batman can’t stop him, it could change the lives of several people.
The Killing Joke is the adaptation of Alan Moore’s classic graphic novel from 1988. Like every other die hard Batman fan, I’m more than familiar with this story and so I was extremely excited to see this adaptation but even more nervous. Although this wasn’t the greatest film ever, as a fan of the graphic novel I left very happy with what I saw!
This film is pretty much split into two parts. The first being a prologue, giving you more backstory on Batgirl/Barbara Gordon and then it kicks into The Killing Joke. Before I get to the prologue, I’m going to start with what everyone wants to see and that’s The Killing Joke. This adaptation is as perfect as one would hope it would be. The graphic novel is a short story, you could probably get through it in about 20 minutes so even with the prologue, there’s a few added scenes and even a dance number but I thought they all added to the already amazing story. The dialogue and animation dives right of the pages and onto the screen, in a way that kept me smiling and happy throughout. I can’t see how anyone could be upset with how they handled this story, unless you’re going to get real pedantic and complain about which foot Joker puts forward first when he walks.
Something that was very important to fans and everyone involved in making this film, was the voice cast. I don’t think anyone wanted to see The Killing Joke unless Kevin Conroy plays Batman and Mark Hamill is the Joker. Well they both returned and to no ones surprise they’re fantastic. Hearing Mark Hamill delivering the iconic dialogue was literary breathtaking. As someone who has read this story a thousand times and knows it back to front, to hear the voice I have always associated with the Joker finally say those words was incredible.
We know from a long list of DC animated films that their animation is awesome and so of course this film looks great but similar to hearing the dialogue, it blew my mind being able to watch these events happen on the big screen. Every panel of Brian Bolland’s incredible artwork for The Killing Joke graphic novel, is a piece of art you could hang on your wall, so I was happy to see Bruce Timm and Warner Brothers didn’t try and put their own spin on the story through the animation but rather just emulated the incredible work. This film is beautiful to look at and for that reason alone it’s worth a rewatch.
Over the weekend, the reveal that there was a sex scene in this film, caused a lot of controversy. I don’t want to focus on that controversy for too long because I think it’s a load of crap but I do have to touch on it. Two people have sex, the film is R-Rated, get over it!
Speaking of adult content, you should be warned just because this is animated, doesn’t mean it’s for kids. This is a violent story and they didn’t hold back on that violence. A lot of people die in this film and it probably has the most violence than any DC animated film before it. But if you read the graphic novel you know this film needs that violence. The Joker is a twisted character and by the end of this film that has been portrayed and for any fans of his, you’ll be happy with how they handled him.
So the enormous elephant in this review, is the first 30 minutes. Like I said before The Killing Joke is a short story and going into the film my main concern was how they were going to stretch it out, to fill the run time. I think they failed. For me the first 30 minutes were boring. If you know the story, then you know why it’s relevant to give a backstory to Barbara Gordon but a full 30 minutes right at the start of the film, made the first half drag! Also it felt like a completely different film. Even when it does get to The Killing Joke, I didn’t feel like the first half changed the way I viewed the second. I know they had to fill the time but I think the best way to watch this film, would be just to watch the adaptation of The Killing Joke, instead of having a tacked on beginning.
Overall they did a pretty good job telling one of the most beloved Batman stories ever. I do think the beginning made the film disjointed but once you get to what you came for, it’s incredible. I’ll definitely be watching it several more times (but maybe skipping the first half) and if you’re a fan of The Killing Joke you need to see this film!
Have you seen Batman: The Killing Joke and what did you think of it?