‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ is the movie adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name that is popular amongst DC fans for a number of reasons. It essentially follows Batman’s hunt for The Joker who is wreaking havoc on the Gordon family, whilst also tying in to Joker’s origin. After finally seeing this highly anticipated animated film there is a lot it did very right but also a good amount it did wrong. I should note that i was aware of the main events that take place in the novel but i had not previously read the entire thing. For the most part this movie covered the entire graphic novel as faithfully as you possibly could, and every moment of this film that focuses on the events explored in the novel was gripping, haunting, great to see represented in animation. But being a short graphic novel, the film would then only be 45 minutes long at most, so another 30 minutes was added to the film to have it be a considerable length and also give Barbara Gordon more of a presence in the story. And it was this tacked on 30 minutes that really holds this film down a lot when it should have elevated it, some of the added runtime really could have been applied to other places.
I will start with the good aspects of the film, that being the 45 minutes taken directly from the source material. Fans of the graphic novel will be pleased due to how much it sticks to its events and script. It is a very interesting and engaging story that explores the Joker more than anyone else and these moments really shine through. The dialogue in here is some of the best dialogue written for this character and you get a better sense of who the Joker is here than you do in any other video representation. The relationship and interactions between Batman and the Joker are great, it may be short, but the way they interact is really what you want to see from these two iconic characters. This is as successful as it is due to the incredible performances by Mark Hamill (Joker) and Kevin Conroy (Batman). Their voice talent combined with the amazing script make for some of the best Batman/Joker dialogue in the history of these characters and it really is great to watch. The animation is also a highlight, really lending itself to the dark nature of this story.
And now for the bad… which essentially is the way they handled the added 30 minutes to this story. The impression i had was that throughout the story there would be 30 minutes of added scenes to give a lot of the events more context and more weight to them. But instead it is all lumped together at the beginning of the film as a sort of ‘prologue’ that tries to give some characters more of a presence in the film, but instead it was all wasted on a story that felt very irrelevant to the story being told later on. I won’t spoil what happens in the 30 minutes or discuss some very odd choices they made but what they tried to do with Barbara’s character to add to the story, actually just hurt the film as we had to sit through all of that just to get to the good stuff. It wasn’t unbearable but it wasn’t good either. Definitely could have and should have been handled better.
So in the end this film sticks to the very dark nature of the graphic novel, has great performances, to go along with the killer dialogue. Is supported by very fitting animation which makes a lot of the iconic scenes very visually appealing. If i was to rate the 45 minutes that focuses on the graphic novel’s content it would be up there at a 9, and when you look at just the added content it is maybe around a 4… I want to give the whole thing a 9 out of 10 because those parts deserve it, but I have to consider both sections and it kills me that although it got high, it should have been higher.