Many fan’s including myself have been waiting for the day when we would get to see a movie about The Killing Joke. It’s an amazing comic that perfectly illustrates the relationship between Batman and Joker. It gives us an idea of who the Joker really is, and the story that ties it all together is a very good one.
So now it’s a movie, and if you’re anything like me you might be internally wondering about some things. How did they turn this 50 page comic into a movie? Is it really worth the R rating? does it work with an R rating? Does the movie do the comic Justice?
It’s really hard for me to answer this because what I have are two short films wrapped up in one package and labelled “Movie”. One of those short films was a great adaptation of Batman: The Killing Joke. The other short film I think was trying to adapt Fifty Shades of Grey into a really awkward Batman story.
When I heard that a Batgirl segment would be incorporated into the story to better flesh out Barbara Gordon’s character it made perfect sense. I was fairly happy to hear it, but what I expected was that they would have added character segments that gave her a story arc. The Batgirl segment plays no part in The Killing Joke story at all.
Batgirl is the narrator and protagonist of the first 30 minutes. She has her own villain, her own story, and her own motives. None of it ties into The Killing Joke in any way at all. When Batgirl is done narrating the screen fades to black, and a entirely new movie with a new set of main characters appear.
The best part about the Batgirl segment is that it was too lazily written to tie itself to the rest of the movie. The whole plot of the first segment revolves around Batgirl’s sex life. I won’t go into the details because I don’t want to spoil anything. I’ll just say is that it was really awkward and didn’t belong in this movie. It took every step in the wrong direction, and degraded the character of both Barbara Gordon and Batman.
Now begins the Story of The Killing Joke. It’s a pretty straight forward adaptation of the original. A few minor changes are made here and there, but overall it’s an exact transfer of the story. Some of the exact lines are even taken from the comic, and hearing them recited with voice talents of Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy are amazing!
As much as I loved hearing Tara Strong and Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill is the real star of the show here. The moment I first heard him gripped me through every one of his lines. The Killing Joke is really Joker’s story, so it’s no surprise that he was the best part of the movie.
I can compliment just about every part of the Killing Joke segment of the movie. The sound was great, animation great, writing awesome, voice acting A+. I would recommend it for a watch to anyone who loves Batman.
The biggest complaint is that the movie was short. When you fast forward past the Batgirl segment you have a 45 minute movie. That isn’t a terrible thing, but I saw a few different places where the Killing Joke story could be expanded. When Joker does his song and dance for the tunnel sequence I thought it was going to cut away to Batman and then come back for the darker stuff. Instead they did the whole sequence while he was singing in about 3 minutes. Multiple scenes could have been extended just enough to make it lengthier. In some cases I feel like it was cut shorter then the comic.
The only other complaint was that a few times lines we’re delivered differently than I imagined from the comic. This is such a tiny thing I can’t even call it a complaint. However there were times in the comic where it would show a character giving dialogue when he was sad, and in the movie the same line would be delivered when the character is angry. Like I said, it’s not a big thing at all. It really just shows the magic of the comic over the movie. When we read comics the majority of the story can take place in our minds. Which is why as much as I recommend the second portion to this movie, I would recommend the source material even more.
Does it deserve an R rating? Not really. The part that alienated me in terms of content was hearing about Batgirl’s sex life, and that’s not why this movie got an R rating. DC animation has been pushing the limits of the PG-13 for a while now (With Suicide Squad only a few days away I think it’s safe to say that doesn’t apply exclusively to the animations.) The movie pushed itself to that limit and got recognized.
It is a mature movie with mature themes and as such I can’t disagree with it being rated R. Parent’s don’t need to mistake this for Batman the Brave and the Bold. However for people that watch the DC animated films, this isn’t too extreme. The R rating suits it in the same way the R rating suits “The Matrix”, or “V for Vendetta”.
Overall, the new movie is worth the watch. If you are new to the DC animated films and you like Batman, you’ll probably enjoy the majority of it. Just know that the beginning is a little bit weird, and probably best if skipped.