They Certainly Did Try A The Killing Joke Review

Released by Warner Brothers

Release Date: August 2nd, 2016

Starring: Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Tara Strong

Written by Brian Azzarello

Directed by Sam Liu

Rated R (some bloody images and disturbing content)

I am not the biggest comic book reader in the world. I have read my fair share of them, but my passion lies in the world of film. So when it was announced that Warner Brothers Animation was adapting The Killing Joke into an animated film I was happy. The Killing Joke is considered one of the best one shot comic books of all time. I thought, at the time, that this was going to be the best thing that WB Animation has put out.

Boy was I wrong. WB Animation did a good job adapting the comic book into a nice cartoon, but they also had to pad the run time. You see, The Killing Joke is short. Like, REALLY short. Holding the hardcover comic in your hand, you are left wondering if there is any paper in between the front and the back covers.

So they pad out the run time, but do they just add to the story, fleshing out things that could have been fleshed out? Nope. The filmmakers have decided that there needs to be something at the front. Something that will make the viewers anxious to get to the actual Killing Joke portion of the story. They give us a story about Barbra Gordon, Commissioner Gordon’s daughter, and current Batgirl. You see, Gordon is not given much to do in The Killing Joke proper. She is shot and paralyzed by the Joker and that is it.

The filmmakers wanted to give Gordon some more to do before she is shot. So they concocted a really bland and boring story that gives us more time with Gordon. She fights to bring down a mobster, named Paris Franz, and show Batman that she can handle her own. While this is all well and good, there is a huge problem with this addition: She sleeps with Batman. That is right. Barbra Gordon sleeps with Bruce Wayne. This was the big addition to the story.

I don’t see why they needed to add this. The filmmakers could have gone with something else, but to add a story that boils down to “Batgirl fucked Batman and then quit” seems counterproductive. For years people complained about Gordon’s role in the story, saying that the only reason that she is in the story is to get shot and raped (it is implied that the Joker raped Barbra Gordon). She has no other purpose in the story. Now the filmmakers add more fuel to the fire by adding a plotline that is not that much different from the one later in the film.

It seems to me and the rest of the internet that Gordon is nothing more than a sex puppet. Two of the  major acts that involve Gordon also involve sex. She is not seen as a woman or as Commissioner Gordon’s daughter (although the filmmakers try to give her something else to do, but that just leads to the first sex act.) Her actions in the film are that of a one-dimensional woman who serves no other purpose in the story than to get penetrated.

This whole storyline takes up the first 28 minutes of a film that is barely over an hour. Why waste the viewers’ time on something that has no bearing on the story that is to follow. In fact, once The Killing Joke portion of the film starts. NONE of the preceding story is even mentioned. There was no reason to include it other than to add to the run time. They could have left this shit on the cutting room floor and no one would have been the wiser. This storyline actually hurts the film because it is unneeded and unwanted and makes Gordon/Batgirl out to be a woman who is so ashamed of her sleeping with Batman that she quits being Batgirl. Really? I role my eyes and move on.

The Killing Joke proper gives the Joker’s origin that is intercut with the present as the Joker shoots Barbra Gordon and kidnaps and tortures her father. Batman, of course, comes to save the day and the film ends very ambiguously.

There was a lot of complaining on the internet that the animation was crap and looked worse than the Batman animated series from back in the mid-90s. Of course the internet is full of shit. The animation is good. Sure, it isn’t the best animation that WB Animation has produced, but people have to realize that WB Animation chooses the look of each film based on what the source material looked like. The art in The Killing Joke is very unique and WB Animation did a pretty good job at replicating it.

Since this is the most requested storyline, WB Animation went and got the actors who are the definitive voices of Batman. We get Kevin Conroy as Batman, Tara Strong as Batgirl, and Mark Hamill as the Joker. All three of these actors nail their roles in the film and give it a much needed authentic feel. I have always loved these three in their roles here, with all of them being the go to for each role. There are so many different Batmans that it is hard to say who is the best, but Hamill, hands down, is THE Joker. The way he embodies the Joker, his playful tone, his menacing forcefulness, and his laugh. If we could have Hamill record every Batman comic where the Joker appears so that, after his death, we would still be able to hear Hamill as the Joker would be fine by me.

The Killing Joke as a film is good but not great. If the filmmakers had not added the storyline at the beginning and left the rest, then this film would end up in my top ten best of the year. As it stand now, The Killing Joke is three-fourths a great film that is hampered with a one-fourth that should have not even been animated. The animation is good, the acting is superb, and the filmmakers’ adaptation is spot on. Skip the first 28 minutes and you will find a great film. Watch the whole thing and you will not like it as much.

Post a Comment