"The Killing Joke" Movie Review
Posted on 27 July 2016
(Warning: Due to language and adult situations, Batman: The Killing Joke, is an animation recommend for a mature audience only)
Last night, courtesy of, Straight Outta A Comic Book (@SOACB on Instagram), I had the opportunity to screen DCs "Batman: The Killing Joke." The animation is based on the one-shot graphic novel of the same name and by and large is a carbon copy set to tone by Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill as The Joker, Tara Strong as Barbara Gordon, and Ray Wise as Commissioner Jim Gordon.
The animation tells the tale of the Joker both present and past. In the present day the Joker has escaped from Arkham Asylum yet again with the plans of showing the public that they were all one bad day from being like himself... totally insane. To do that he chooses to ruin Jim Gordon by paralyzing his daughter, Barbra, and kidnapping Jim himself. While in the Jokers custody he is held up in a cage in an amusement park filled with Joker cronies/carnies. To put the commissioner through the ringer he sets up an amusement park ride to take him through a couple of scenes before ultimately showing Jim (and remember this is for mature audiences only) pictures of his freshly wounded and paralyzed daughter, unclothed. Broken down, he's put back into his cage as the main attraction, being displayed as the "modern man."
Meanwhile throughout flashbacks we see a relatively normal man who just wants to make an honest living for his wife and child to. With the comedy business not being the best to him he looks to make a big one time score for a couple of your typical Gotham crooks. Unfortunately, he loses both his wife and unborn child in a household accident. Being strong armed after the fact, he still helps the two men break into a card factory directly next to the chemical factory where he used to work as an engineer. The group finds trouble when the security working the facility spots and tries to subdue the crew. Eventually after a run in with the Batman, the seemingly innocent man falls into a huge container of chemical and gets rung out the other side. In a rain he sees his reflection and the freak he's became. With his skin bleached, his lips stained ruby red, his hair bright green, and his loved ones perished, he goes mad and becomes the Joker.
The first half of the movie explains why Barbara Gordon became and then retired as Batgirl. A good story in the graphic novel that kind of gets watered down when they make Batgirl a sex object for Batman. The producers said, they knew it'd rub people the wrong way but they wanted to make this telling live up to the raunchy, real life scenarios that worked so well in the original. Regardless, the voice acting in this animation was flawless. Kevin Conroy returns as the Batman and despite not being filled to the brim with Batman, all of his dialogue is either funny or bone chilling delivered with the deep sincerity that Conroy consistently brings the table. Strong also reprises her role as Barbara Gordon and as expected crushes it. The real star of the show is Mark Hamill as The Joker. Before the film started, we were treated to a featurette with the actor and he explained how the Joker role came about for him. The film itself is one of the more Joker centered Batman stories and Hamill delivered more than ever on the certain insanity that is the Joker.
Other than my gripe with how Batgirl wad treated early on, the film stands strong as one of the better DC animations and with the more serious tone we can only hope it opens the door for more of their gritty and someone times controversial comics getting an animated treatment.
Due to a high demand the 1 night only theater showings have been extended an extra day. If you can find a theater showing I would strongly suggest it. If not, the film was released today through all VOD services. The film is rated R.