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As Batman hunts for the escaped Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime attacks the Gordon family to prove a diabolical point mirroring his own fall into madness. Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland.
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Batman: The Killing Joke movie full length review - Batman: the Killing joke. Batgirl: the Killing Joke? (warning for spoilers)
The Killing Joke comic is one of the most influential comic books of all time; it is a short character study between the Joker and Batman with Joker trying to prove that he and Batman are not so different.
It is a very disturbing look into the Joker's mind as we see the book cut back and forth between the present day Joker and before he became the clown price of crime. I was extremely lucky to read the book before watching this movie and I was much hyped to hear the film adaption was going to go down the R rated trail. When the mediocre reviews began to arise I was worried that it was going to be either: boring, lazy or clumsy. The good news is that it not boring or lazy but not the best.
When you start up The Killing joke you would be forgiven that you might have started up a failed spin-off of Batman the Animated series as for the first 30 minutes of this Killing Joke movie is on a totally different story with nothing linking to the Joker or Batman or even the events of the Killing Joke. Instead we get a story of Batgirl (Barbra Gordon) fighting stereotypical Italian gangsters that, after the 30 minute mark vanish from the film . This is going to be a running trend throughout these 30 minutes, Batman only shows up occasionally to be a jerk to batgirl before disappearing until the situation calls for him to show up to be moaned at and have possible sexual tension with Batgirl. She then complains about the said sexual tension to her stereotypical gay best friend who is only there because writers could not be bothered to write an interesting or memorable character for her to cry at. This hurts even more in that the gay best friend is his sole character trait much and is even worse than the Italian gangster because at least he was two dimensional. The friend fades away after the 30 minute mark.
You know that sexual tension I was talking about in the last paragraph? Well this reaches its climax (I am sorry) when during one heated argument between Batman and Batgirl (must have been the third time it has happened) they start fighting and end up having sex. After that little event that did not need to happen there is some sulking on Batgirl's part and then it is resolved in the most anti-climatic way possible, they just say sorry and go on living. It is never brought up again after the 30 minute mark. In a way the final nine words of that sentence sum the first act of the movie, once the real story starts everything that happened and everyone we met sans Batman, Batgirl and Commissioner Gordon are never brought up again after the 30 minute mark. The first act of the film is totally pointless in almost every way, nothing mattered and the characters were right where they needed to be in order for the Killing Joke to happen. Barbra Gordon's story could/should have been cut out and you would have a much better movie as well as not having to sit through 30 minutes of Batgirl the sitcom.
Once we get to the actual story the movie suddenly gets a whole lot better, once all the silly, pointless nonsense that was Batgirl's story passes we finally get the Killing Joke and it is fantastic. One can make the argument that the writers just copy-pasted the comic and you would not be wrong, the movie uses all the set ups and camera angles used in the comic as well as 90% of the dialogue was taken word for word from the book with almost no changes what so ever. However this is not a bad thing because, the Killing Joke is so good that if you alter too much of the original story then you are left with a worse product. The first act is the example of this.
I do not want to go too deep into the Killing Joke's story here as you need to see it or better yet read it before hand. If I give away any of the main plot threads the experience would be ruined. The only thing you need to know going in is that Batman is called to a crime scene which contains composes with massive grins craved into their faces and follows the trail a mad man who calls himself the Joker. This part of the story is much like the book intensely disturbing and is the closest one can get to turn the Batman universe into a psychological horror thriller. Mark Hamill is still brilliant as the Joker and Kevin Conroy is still as fantastic as usual. If only the movie began with Batman investigating the Joker and not have Batgirl as the focus of a first act that did not need to exist then this film would be truly worthy of the source material.
I really don't know, as I am writing this if I can recommend this movie. On one hand I could complain about the uneven animation, with its jumping frame rate and the lag that seems to happen when ever a fight scene happens. But then the back rounds are magnificent with light blues and dark blacks which in turn allow a great sense of atmosphere to build, it makes Gotham look like a oppressive even freighting place to be. I could point out that the first 30 minutes mark is absolutely pointless and feels like filler. However it is not that bad due to the strong performances and Batgirl's story is sometimes compelling. But the second and third act is so much better in almost every way possible. I feel that I can only give this movie a passing recommendation. Watch this movie only if you are prepared to put up with a worthless first act.