Batman: The Killing Joke
I have never seen a DC animated movie before I watched Batman: The Killing Joke. Sure, I have heard a lot of good things about them, but I never really made time for them. They are supposed to be decently animated, well voiced, and of course, tell great plot filled stories, better than the current live action films.
I figured it was the best time to finally get on the train. The hype for The Killing Joke was insane. The graphic novel itself is incredibly well known and respected as one of the best Batman stories ever. This is the first R-rated DC animated film ever made. And of course they decided to release it in theaters for Fathom Events. It sold out. So they made a second showing for the one day only event. Then they added two more the next day. And some theaters had multiple screens each night at the same time.
I. Had. To. See. This.
And I have never been so disappointed to get so dang hyped for something I had little experience for.
King? That’s not the card that is super relevant, damn it!
The Killing Joke is a story about Batman (Kevin Conroy) realizing that one day, either he might end up killing The Joker (Mark Hamill) or vice versa. And Batman doesn’t want to do that. He wants to try to talk with The Joker. But The Joker has escaped again.
And The Joker wants to get revenge, harsh revenge. Mainly on Commissioner Gordon (Ray Wise) and his daughter, Barbara/Batgirl (Tara Strong). He wants to break Gordon and break Batman in the process, just like he was broken a long time ago. Yes, we get Joker backstory.
Oh, and also, there is a 30 minute intro or something completely unrelated, about Batgirl and Batman having a relationship and a sociopath gangster named Paris (Maury Sterling) who abuses Batgirl. John DiMaggio is also here for gangster voice work and Brian George as Alfred.
Life. Life is the real joke. HA HA HA HA!
Let’s ignore the story for a bit. Let’s just talk about the animation, a crucial part of any animated movie. It is hard to describe in any other way other than shit. It feels so cheaply done. When characters walk it feels sometimes rushed, sometimes blocky. It is a buzzkill to watch. If they were going for a comic book feel, I cannot tell. In addition to that, for whatever creative reason, the vehicles in the movie are very different visually and a lot more 3D feeling than the rest of the 2D film. It again just feels lazy, like they had to use a different program just to get the film out in time.
The prologue of this film is a big what the fuck. First, it is almost half the movie. I haven’t seen a prologue that long since Digimon: The Movie. They apparently added in this story, not attached to the comic, in order to build up Batgirl a bit more. In The Killing Joke she is seen as a prop just to get hurt and abused and it has its fair share of controversy. So they give her a bigger role with this aspect. It is meant to draw parallels between her feelings towards Batman and this new villain, with Batman’s own feelings towards her and the Joker.
And it fails. The random gangster objectifies her at every turn and basically always has the upper hand. Batman is seen as a huge dick in the prologue, void of any emotion, and a very out of place love scene. It also comes with a stereotypical gay character out of the 90’s! The prologue is meant to give the Batgirl more material to work with, but in all honesty just turns her into a sex object for a longer period of time. Yeesh.
As for The Killing Joke portion, it is still only okay. The voice acting is decent, the animation is poor, the backstory is interesting. But again, this portion of the film feels rushed. Joker’s plan to drive Gordon insane has only two or so components and clearly not enough to break him. The film has the R rating for subject matter, but so much of it is still implied. Show me animated dong, damn it. It felt censored.
This is not something you should have seen in theaters, but by the time this review is up, it is already out. They made their money, it is a financial success, and now people might buy it for their homes. But it is not worth owning or really watching. In all accounts, your money would be better spent just on the graphic novel itself most likely. Rent this one if you must.