Batman: The Killing Joke

(2016)

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Title:
Batman: The Killing Joke
Release Date:
24th July 2016
Runtime:
72 min
MPAA Rating:
R
Genres:
Directors:
Sam Liu
Writers:
Bill Finger, Bob Kane
Languages:
English
Stream Quality:
1080p / 720p / 480p

Storyline

Fathom Events, Warner Bros. and DC Comics invite you to a premiere event when Batman: The Killing Joke comes to select cinemas nationwide for a special one-night event including an introduction from Mark Hamill plus two never-before-seen featurettes. Based on the acclaimed DC Comics graphic novel, take a journey into the dark psyche of the Clown Prince of Crime. Now escaped from Arkham Asylum, The Joker sets out to prove that one bad day can make anyone just as insane as he is. Featuring the return of Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill as The Joker and Tara Strong as Batgirl, witness the birth of a super villain, the fortitude of a hero and the punchline that will leave you speechless!

Ratings

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 53%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience 60%
IMDb Rating 7.0

Casts

John DiMaggio as Francesco
Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Mark Hamill as The Joker
Ray Wise as Commissioner Gordon
Tara Strong as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Adelante! 26th July, 2016

Rehashed Work

I'm not sure how to approach this movie. I wanted to like this movie I really did. I wanted to like everything about it. From its revival of the good old' Batman TAS to the voice actors to the sweeping soundtrack, the polished animation reflecting a dark Art Deco Gothic – whatever the hell you call it – STYLE. Maybe I was asking for too much but perhaps a little story on the side too. Pretty please? That being said, I also slapped a big 'REALISTIC Expectations' sticker over my eyes before watching the screen come alive. I knew this wasn't going to be as good as Batman: The Animated Series. But I was glad to have something reminiscent of that monolith of 1990's animation and storytelling. Boy was I in for a surprise. The core issue of this movie is not the A) story it chose to tell or B) how it told said story but rather C) the juxtaposition of a classic show's established world (including its location, characters and story) with a modern flavor. Telling a new story that kind of breaks the older established world we all fell in love with on the TV screen. Then yes we have the story itself, a dark telling of how the joker became to be, without Warner Bros. censorship. This complicates things a bit. So without further ado, let's go down the list! Issue #1: Old World with new rules that break it. Really jarring, adds a new dimension of sex that was apparently very crucial to the story (or not). Enter strong powerful female figure defined by her sexuality, hit on by every hot criminal she meets, then making kinky love to Batman on rooftops with creepy goblins looking over ("it's only sex!") Definitely not a shallow character, no shortage of hot gay library friends and definitely loads of problems like deciding which guy she wants to be with. Let's see what's behind door number one – BATMAN. Who is Batman? In this movie, he's pretty much a Zoltar of lazy story exposition. Says the most obvious things. Has no inner conflict. Has no fears. Has no emotions no feelings yet in the end we are supposed to feel his turmoil in fighting the Joker. Batman ladies and gents, is purely a device in this film. Batgirl was fan-service. And the movie spent a good 40 minutes setting up her love story to Batman when all of this information could've been relayed in a few key scenes! Why didn't this happen? Because the real star of the show got pushed out – the Joker! Wasn't the story about the Joker more than anything? He isn't a witty clever funny man anymore. Now he's just misunderstood and 10x darker than Nolan's version. Although voiced by Hamill, he doesn't even compare to the TAS Joker who lit up the screen. Going to credit this to mediocre writing. Obvious things (90% Batman lines), dumb things (35% Batgirl lines) and unfunny things (75% Joker lines) should not exist. Make your dialogue interesting and worth quoting! These flat characters, the story's misplaced focus on character and conflict arise from the core issues – the new Batman, complete with its sexy fan-service, empty brooding heroes and second-rate comic relief – just cannot exist in this world. A Killing Joke is a story of its own and if it takes time trying to break the Batman TAS, then it should've been in its own world. Dear Mr. Liu, please do not use Batman TAS for anything if you're going to give us something new. Just give us something new. This story could've been its own thing and it could've been great. Issue #2: Show don't tell. Pretty much a copy of the graphic novel panel by panel. Come on spice it up a bit give us different angles, close-ups and MOVEMENT. Show us what animation can do even if it's on a tight budget. Show us the wonder and essence of the world. Make us feel the DESIRE Batgirl has to work with Batman, let us hear the thunder and rain crashing down on everything show us the details that move us emotionally. When we see the Joker from afar talking to the police about his wife, give us those strong visuals that tell the story on their own instead of him flatly saying his wife is dead. Show his loss and his madness. Don't deliver lines at dramatic points. Don't make Batman aware and comment on his meta-role as a foil to the Joker – that's obvious and doesn't need to be in focus (even if in the original). Issue #3: Same story no insights. The Killing Joke is a very dark story and sometimes less is more. The Joker on his tirade fails to truly shock the audience. What he chose to do should've been the true horror of the story and presented as such so it sneaks up slowly on the audience. This could've been accomplished in so many creative ways. It was literally just given to the audience and rather quickly. In closing, it makes me think twice when an older 1993 movie like Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (highly underrated btw) outdoes The Killing Joke as a serious film with some substance to pack and scenes that tell a story on their own. I can't believe I'm saying this but the Joker was downright chilling in Phantasm and I watched that movie as an adult. It's not the inner fanboy leaking but a respect for the art. Watch Phantasm or Batman TAS if you're looking for a mature story that knows what it's doing. They may not have the newest animation or fan-service but it does have characters you'll care about and a story that will touch your soul.

Reviewed by Joseph Fay 24th July, 2016

People are overreacting

Although this movie is not perfect by any means, it adapts most of the short graphic novel into a decent animated movie. Performances are amazing as always with Mark Hamill blowing everyone away again. People are however furious with this scene that takes place between TDK and BG, which I don't really see an issue with. In the comics and on some traditional media I do feel some sort of tension between these two and even though it might be a little out in left field it doesn't ruin it at all. I personally really enjoyed the film as an avid comic book reader and fan of Batman. Everyone calm the f*** down, it's just a movie, and it's fine.

Reviewed by sinuois 23rd July, 2016

Decent movie, but Alan Moore would hate it...

OK... I'll be honest: I was waiting something great and I didn't get it. Maybe because of the very high expectations that the movie just couldn't reach. There was a couple of things that bothered me. I think the important part was too short (about 45 minutes), they gave too much emphasis to the Batgirl prologue, I mean, the Joker appeared 30 minutes after the movie initiated, for God sake! Yes, there was some things from that part that I thought were interesting, I'm sure some people will hate them though. I was very uncomfortable with the inconsistency of the art style, sometimes The Joker looked amazing, sometimes... not very good; besides, the animation was very weak in several scenes, I mean like 10 fps and that's unacceptable Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy's work was the best of the movie, I can't complain about that. It was OK. But they could do it a lot better.

Reviewed by wanderlazaro 23rd July, 2016

A great adaptation

First, It is important to say that I'm not a geek, a huge HQ fan, or anything like that. So, if you want a review done by an expert, this is not the review for you. Otherwise, if you appreciate an honest review you can keep reading. Batman the killing joke is a great adaptation to the screens of a very successful HQ. The humanity that the plot line conveyed to the joker, mainly at the end of the movie, was surprising. This was the high point of the movie for me. His philosophy that states we should embrace the chaos through madness is well built and you can understand his answer to all the randomness around us. At the end of this movie, you will probably even feel bad for the guy. Perhaps, you might even been convinced that, as the joker says, "we really are just one bad day away from being him". Ps: English is not my first language, so don't mind the mistakes.

Reviewed by cheighlee 22nd July, 2016

Good, not great

I've always thought that The Killing Joke is actually not long enough and not quite suitable enough for big screen. This just proves it. There's a lot of padding to extend the run time. First 20-ish minutes are brand new stuff, not from the comic book. It deals with Barbara and her relationship with Batman. Also, they have sex. Yeah, so, moving on. I guess that new stuff had purpose to extend the run time and maybe add some more character to Barbara, to make the later stuff more impactful. But somehow it (new stuff) becomes totally disconnected from the rest. Again, the comic didn't have that much material to put into an hour plus long movie. So while it does fill the time, it doesn't add much or subtracts from the whole picture. Although, that sex scene was a bit unnecessary. There are few more fillers along the way and they are also in that "nor adding, nor subtracting anything from the whole" formula. Ending was a bit weird too. While it will be an eternal debate about "did Batman strangled Joker or not?", in the comic, that last page ended perfectly, they both laugh, then they both stop, and you can only "hear" incoming cop sirens. Here, similar, only we hear Batman weird laugh extending into fade to end credits. While a small thing, it kinda annoyed me. Also, there's a mid credits stinger, which was also out of place and felt a bit unnecessary. Now, it's nothing new that Alan Moore doesn't want to have anything with transferring his stories to big screen, here they skipped him completely and credited Brian Azzarello for story. I guess he did the best he could to expand the story to fit into an hour and 15 minutes animated feature. Only those fillers were kind of whatever. Voice acting and all that, Mark Hamill, Kevin Conroy, Tara Strong, Nolan North.. all the good stuff about that. Music, also fine. What I want to write a bit more about is animation. Now I'm aware how painful process of animating can be but here we got DC average animation to DVD/BR home feature - bit stiff, not much texture to the world and characters but passable. It could (should) be way better though. Directing was OK but I can't shake the feeling that a bit of quality directing and editing would make this thing a whole lot better. But it's OK. And that's the running theme here - OK. Good but not great. In the end it was just another DC animated straight to DVD/BR feature and not exactly suited for the big screen. I would be OK if they never made this, but I'm OK with this as well but it could be better, as I already said. I expected more, was fine with what I got... but... I expected more dammit.