MOVIE REVIEW: The Killing Joke

One of the most famous Batman tales gets the animated treatment and it kills me to say this but it’s a below average affair from the Warner Brothers/DC partnership. I was going to give this a 3 out of five but watched the film again and the tragedy that the graphic novel gives us is lost and the ending of the film is muddled beyond belief. What should have been the DC animation of the decade is now just a below par adaptation and for once I agree with grouch Alan Moore, as I wouldn’t want my name on this (1)

It’s a big fear for any creator that their vision be turned into a movie, live action or animation, and the entire feel of your work be lost. The film isn’t all bad, getting to know Batgirl a little more is a great thing, the psychology of her actions, the relationship between her and Batman. That’s all good and adds to the story of The Killing Joke rather than take away anything from the graphic novel.

1488539-joker2-322x268I am a huge Batman fan, and was prepared to fall in love with this film, but sadly that love is a one way street now, I still think, after two viewings that if I watch it a third time I’ll fall for it. The big punches of the story are masked over too much, I don’t know why, maybe because Warner and DC don’t understand that we’re adults.

The animation itself isn’t as good as it should be, again it’s not awful, just not the level that we usually get from these animations. The feeling of a rushed effort is all around. The sound is amazing you’re surrounded by the sounds of the city and the amusement park. Having Mr. Kevin Conroy and Mr. Mark Hamill back as Batman and The Joker brings a little tear to my eyes as nostalgia takes over. The rest of the voice cast are amazing and Tara Strong as Batgirl gives a depth to the character that I do love.

This is a watered down version of the book that I and everyone I know loves. The attack on Batgirl which turns her into Oracle should have shocked us to the core watching this. It is the whole premise for the story. The scriptwriter tries to be clever with the story and take away the harsh nature of the original story and for me he fails.hqdefault

If Warner and DC want to make true adaptations of their amazing books then they have to do one simple thing. Be true to the source material. Be bold. The ending of the book implies what happens to The Joker, the ending to this implies nothing. I love when a book implies something but doesn’t show it. That trusts the audience or reader to use their brains and finish the story. Anyone who doesn’t know about The Killing Joke before watching this won’t know what is meant to happen to The Joker after the final scene.

While the first half of the movie gives Batgirl a little more depth to her character, and a great psychopathic villain in Paris, the rest of the film, which should have shocked us to the core of our belief and tested our level of taste, is just weak sauce. Tonight I’ll reread my well-worn copy of the book, and then watch this animation again, I just hope that at some point in the viewing of this animation movie again and again I start to feel the loved returned. I live my life in hope and love, part of that is living in hope and love of Batman.

Director: Sam Liu
Writers: Bob Kane (character created by: Batman), Bill Finger (character created by: Batman) | Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, Jerry Robinson, Brian Azzarello
Stars: Mark Hamill, Kari Wahlgren, Tara Strong

See full cast & crew


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