Movie Review: Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)

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Predominantly based on the (in)famous graphic novel, Batman: The Killing Joke is a 2016 entry in the DC Animated Movie Universe. Directed by Sam Liu (2015’s Justice League: Gods and Monsters), the film is equal parts an original story and an adaption of the original story, and features the return of the trio of Kevin Conroy (Batman / Bruce Wayne), Tara Strong (Barbara Gordon / Batgirl) and Mark Hamill (The Joker). Also joining are Ray Wise as Commissioner Gordon and Maury Sterling as crime boss Paris Franz.

+ the main trio’s voice work is absolute perfection. Mark Hamill is, and always will be, THE Joker, and if this is the last time he voices the Clown Prince of Crime, then it was a fantastic, fitting way to bow out (though with how many time’s we’ve heard that before, don’t hold your breath). Also reprising from the Batman: The Animated Series cartoon, Kevin Conroy is back at his best as the Bat and Tara Strong is once again at her best as Barbara Gordon
+ the bulk of the film is the classic story we all know and love, and that part is simply phenomenal, and is just as hard hitting and confronting as ever

– it has to be said, the animation is very poor. Aside from a handful of well known page-to-screen shots, the majority of the film is incredibly bland, with very little detail on the characters or the background
– to be blunt, the original prologue story, detailing the rise of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, is horrendous. From an incredibly token, almost offensively stereotypical gay friend to the (now well documented) scenes between her and Bruce/Batman, this was nothing short of a train-wreck. It is almost worth skipping everything until the adaption begins (almost…)
– the very end of the story has been altered from the comic, taking away any and all ambiguity. The ending, and it’s many interpretations, is one of my favourite parts of the original story, so this change is particularly hard hitting to me

Should you see this film: Fans of the original story will be left flabbergasted at the changes, but the stuff they have adapted faithfully is on-par with the very best of any superhero story. This is worth a single viewing either way, but make sure you are willing to overlook some drastic changes to the source material.

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