“The Killing Joke” is directed by Sam Liu and is the latest Warner Bros Batman animation based on Alan Moore’s dark and brooding tale of madness and the ease in which one can fall into it. After nearly 30 years it is widely regarded as the best Joker story in the history of Batman comics.
“I’m not exactly sure what happened. Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another. If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!”
Right off the bat (pun intended) I have to address the big issue that everybody seems to have with this film; the first act. I agree with what many are saying and for those who don’t know what I’m talking about the first act of this film (no spoilers) is completely unnecessary, it’s nothing more than a vain attempt to set up a character that doesn’t need setting up, otherwise Alan Moore would have done so himself. Don’t get me wrong the animation is pretty good and the voice acting is spot on, especially with Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprising their roles as Batman and Joker respectively, the problem here lies with the script.
I can see where the writers were coming from, sort of, but they must have known themselves it was a risk holding back the first page of the comic till the thirty minute mark. If the studio really wanted a Batgirl prelude to the Killing Joke they could have at least hired some decent writers and made it good. Why do DC films always have a bunch of idiot writers behind them? In Superman Returns, Lex Luthor’s evil plan is to create a new continent made of kryptonite, which will cause tsunamis that will wipe out the nations of the world and force humanity to turn to him for his ridiculously priced houses. Really? All the money of a film studio behind you and you can’t hire a team of good writers? And don’t get me started on Batman vs Superman, you do NOT start the justice league via email. My five-year old sister could write a better origin story than that.
Basically what I’m saying is if you’re a fan of the comic skip to exactly 31 minutes and you’ll get a true adaptation of the source material. There are times where the animators capture the most memorable panels perfectly. My only gripe with this section of the film is that the voice actor for James Gordon didn’t get across the whole hardened bad-ass cop vibe that I generally associate with the character, however it’s only a minor complaint. The emotional beats are still where they should be and are in some ways more chilling thanks to the excellent voice acting by Mark Hamill, performing the words of the joker like a psychotic poet, just the way they were intended.
Overall it’s a decent film if you can put up with the first half hour of cringy characters and the unnecessary over sexualisation of Batgirl (like when she’s running and we get a close up of her ass for an awkwardly long time, someone got paid to spend hours drawing that), if you can get past that then you’re in for a good movie night with a bag of popcorn and a beer.