Warning: this review contains mild spoilers for Batman: The Killing Joke.
Batman: The Killing Joke is the newest installment in DC’s animated film universe. It stars Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill as the Joker, and Tara Strong as Batgirl, and is based off of the comic written by Alan Moore.
Let me start off by saying The Killing Joke is my favorite graphic novel of all time. So, I went into this movie with high expectations, considering how well DC has done with their past few animated movies. And honestly, I was pretty let down.
Now let’s get into the review, I’ll start with the bad.
The Killing Joke starts off with about a 30 minute prologue for Batgirl. And it is awful. Honestly, if you buy this movie on Blu-Ray or DVD skip the first 30 minutes. Tara Strong, who voices Harley Quinn in the Arkham games, is bland and boring in this movie. It could be partially blamed on how flat and cliche most of her dialogue is. Still, I was expecting more from her considering how much I love her portrayal of Harley Quinn in the Arkham games. But most of her dialouge just seemed like she was reading a script and wasn’t really into the character like she is when voicing Harley Quinn. There were lines in the first 30 minutes that were so bad, the whole theater was laughing at them when they weren’t intended to be funny. Batgirl and Batman are also in a relationship in the movie, and that did not help at all. It’s not something Batgirl or Batman would do, it completely butchers the character. In fact, it butchers both. I had to just not think about it to actually like this movie.
Kevin Conroy is good but not great. Any Batman voiced by Conroy is great, but he didn’t seem too into the character, the same thing happened with Tara Strong. Conroy usually seems like he’s on the top of his game and he just kind of wasn’t in this.
The common complaint other than the Batgirl/Batman relationship is the animation. I thought when I saw the trailer that I could look past it, but it’s just not good. You can say all you want that they were trying to make it look like the graphic novel, but it doesn’t look like the graphic novel. The animation style just isn’t interesting, it’s extremely bland. There are DC animated movies that came out 10 years ago that look better than this. There is a YouTube video where someone took the trailer and edited it to look like the comic, and if a YouTuber can make the animation better than the filmmakers, then there’s something up with your animation department, DC.
Now, there are things I like about the movie.
Mark Hamill is the best he has EVER been in The Killing Joke, he takes his Joker portrayal from amazing to Oscar worthy. If the Academy decided to add voice acting as a category this year, Mark Hamill HAS to win for The Killing Joke. There’s a scene in the last 10 minutes where he has a few lines that include “Why aren’t you laughing?!”, which is featured in the trailer. And in that scene he goes to a whole new level. Honestly, that scene got to me. After about 30 minutes of dialouge and acting that was really and truthfully making me cringe, Mark Hamill immersed me in this movie. It was like I was watching a completely different movie. The first 30 minutes and the rest of the movie are like night and day.
After the first 30 minutes of course, this movie is basically a word for word comic adaption. Which is what the whole movie should’ve been. There are some comic book movies that benefit from being a word for word comic adaption, and there are some that do not. This is one of those that benefit.
Let me also say, the last ten minutes of the movie are SPECTACULAR. Kevin Conroy finds the Batman inside of him, and Hamill blows away the bar he already set.
Overall, Batman: The Killing Joke is best watched without the first 30 minutes. If you’re a fan of the comic and still have a chance to see it in theaters, go see it. Yes, the first 30 minutes are terrible but just those last 10 minutes are worth paying $10 for to see in the theater.
Batman: The Killing Joke gets a 6.8/10.