Batman: The Killing Joke (2016) Review

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The Killing Joke

Time: 76 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence and Sexual References
Cast:
Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Mark Hamill as Joker
Tara Strong as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl
Ray Wise as Commissioner James Gordon
Director: Sam Liu

Batman (Kevin Conroy) must save Commissioner Gordon (Ray Wise) from the Joker’s (Mark Hamill) twisted quest to drive him insane.

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I like The Killing Joke graphic novel. I’m not crazy over the story like so many people are, but I do understand why it was so famous. I was actually quite interested to see the adaptation of this story, especially as they got Batman and Joker voice actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill to do voicework for the film. Having seen the movie, I have to say that I actually liked the film quite a bit. Aside from the first 30 minutes which do have some problems (and really the majority of the problems of the film), I think that this film adapted The Killing Joke quite well. Looking at the reception though, this film seemed to have divided people, shame really, as I think this is a very solid movie. I do think that it is worth checking out though.

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By far the biggest flaw of this movie is the first 30 minutes, and I think that’s something that most people will agree on. It’s a prologue largely focussing on Barbara Gordon and her as Batgirl. It dragged quite a bit, felt quite weak, didn’t connect in any way to the Killing Joke segment and felt quite out of place, especially when you’re going into an adaptation of the Killing Joke. I can understand why she would have this focused on her, considering that a criticism of the graphic novel was that Barbara wasn’t given great treatment, and they wanted to give her more development and characterisation. The thing is if you cut that out of the movie, you’d just get the Killing Joke story and you wouldn’t notice that anything had been taken out. And yes, for some who know, there’s a controversial scene between Batgirl and Batman during these 30 minutes. All I’ll say is, it felt really out of place and didn’t work at all, and felt forced in and awkward. I think the 30 minutes was also added in just to make the movie longer, without it the movie is about 46 minutes long but I think that’s preferable to having a forced in prologue. I really liked the rest of the film. It’s very similar to the graphic novel, the story and dialogue are all there and if you liked the graphic novel, you will most likely love this section. And in that it’s worth noting that if you don’t like certain things in the graphic novel (like Joker having a tragic backstory, what happened to Barbara during it) you will feel the same way about that in the movie. There is an end credit scene, while not bad, it felt unnecessary.

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The voicework by Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Tara Strong and others are great, and do suit the characters (unsurprisingly since they have been voicing the Batman characters for a long time). I personally like the animation of the movie, a lot of people have complained that it looked quite cartoonish, but I think it’s trying to imitate the comic books. Then again this is the first animated Comic Book Movie/Cartoon/TV show I’ve seen, so I can’t measure the Killing Joke up against any other animations.

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This film seemed to have divided some people. If you didn’t like the Killing Joke story, it’s highly likely that you won’t like this movie. It doesn’t go any more or less extreme than what was done in the graphic Novel. However I think it’s at least worth a look for those interested. It’s not perfect, once again the first 30 minutes really doesn’t work the best in the story (and had the majority of the flaws of the movie), but I still think it’s a solid DC animated movie with the voice talent and the telling of the Killing Joke.

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3 thoughts on “Batman: The Killing Joke (2016) Review

  1. jsebastian

    This film is definitely dividing fans at the moment, and I want to give it another watch before I voice my opinion on it. I was very satisfied with the voice acting, that was a shot of nostalgia straight to the veins. I wasn’t crazy about the animation, but again I’d like to give it another chance. Your any guys’ blog is really cool, do you ever cross-share your articles on any other platforms or film sites?

    Reply
      1. jsebastian

        Would you be interested in publishing your work on Moviepilot.com as well? We’re another open platform for film writers with a larger fanbase. If you’d like to contribute, you’re more than welcome!

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