Batman: The Killing Joke Review

Director: Sam Liu

Starring: Mark Hamill, Kevin Conroy, Tara Strong, Ray Wise

The Overview

Based on the graphic novel of the same name, described by many as the “definitive” Joker story. 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.
The Good

The absolute sh*tshow that was the comic con panel for this new animated Batman movie made every attempt to overshadow it’s release, but let’s ignore that and talk about the film itself!

The graphic novel upon which this film is based is held in very high regard amongst fans; notoriously dark, gritty and controversial. Every inch of this story is translated onto screen, and for the most part this is amazing. The latter half of the film, or pretty much from the second the Joker appears, is incredible, with frame for frame nods to the original novel which will really please fans. This is dark stuff and thoroughly deserving of it’s R rating, but it’s very effective. 

The score is wonderful, drawing influence from horror scores to give it a really creepy edge. 

It is crammed full of iconic imagery, including the Joker’s first maniacal stare after he glimpses himself for the first time. Everything that takes place in the abandoned carnival is amazing, and the Joker’s toe-tapping song and dance number being one of the standouts. It’s very Poor Unfortunate Souls-esque, and as fans of the novel will know, the imagery it is paired with make it even more memorable. Combining this upbeat song with the incredibly disturbing images is undeniably effective. 
The voice cast are, as expected, amazing! For me, Hamill will always be the best Joker voice, and he is a pure delight to listen to! Conroy also reprises his role as the voice of Batman and is also excellent. 

The Bad

As a lot of other people are, I do want to take issue with some of the stuff that precedes the main thrust of the Killing Joke storyline. Whilst nowhere near as offensive as I was expecting it to be, it was disappointing to see Barbara Gordon/Batgirl reduced to someone who’s main character arc was her infatuation with Batman. Sure, she had a couple of kick-ass moments, but there was far too much of her pining after Batman. Also, for me, the implied sex scene was entirely unnecessary! 

The graphic novel is not a long story so I understand they had to pad it out with some extra material, but it’s a real shame they couldn’t have a Barbara Gordon storyline which didn’t reduce her as such. The way she was portrayed meant the stuff that happens later didn’t quite have the same emotional kick that it could’ve done. 

The Verdict 

I saw this movie and you should too. If you want you can just skip the first little bit and start from the bit the Joker appears, but there is still stuff to be appreciated in watching the whole thing. It’s not the best Batman animated movie, but there are parts of it which do a great justice to the source material which should keep fans happy. If you missed the cinema release, it will be out on DVD soon, so worth checking out!

Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a totally misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Let me know in the comments below! 

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