Batman The Killing Joke (2016) 1Grade (C)

Much ado about nothing in this new animated release from DC Comics.

“BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE” was the much talked about release from DC based on the very popular graphic-novel, one I have not read, but still heard many good things about. So when Fathom Events was giving this film some theater time I naturally was expecting a lot from it.

Kevin Conroy voices Batman, Mark Hamill voices The Joker and Tara Strong does the same for Batgirl, with Sam Liu directing. This story follows Batman as he pursues The Joker after he attacks the Gordon family to prove his point that anyone is simply a bad day away from being him and that the decent into madness can be an easy one.

Now I was pretty excited to see this movie, my expectations were high and I was hoping to see a darker violent story told in the world of Gotham. But honestly it was surprisingly disappointing. Maybe disappointing would not be the best term but instead, surprisingly anti-climactic.

The story starts out very slow, the first 30 minutes were devoted to Batgirl and it was not very engaging. I got the point the were trying to deliver but to me it was made clear after a few minutes and needed no where near the run-time it got. The first-act was really muttering around itself as she tries to prove herself to Batman in a common fashion. It had its moments but the wasted time was soon noticeable as I waited with anticipation for The Joker to finally make his appearance.

Batman The Killing Joke (2016) 3

Once he makes his presence known in the film it immediately gets better. Much of the second act was an intriguing look into the world of The Joker, his life before becoming the ‘Clown Prince of Crime’ and it commanded my full attention. It was the dark story I was hoping for as he begins his plan to prove the ease of insanity to Batman, but an overly condensed one. It was not developed the way I had hoped it would, and I could see why given the entirety of the first-act, did not really have an impact on the rest of the film other than taking time from the true plot.

Once the third-act gets going it was strong at times but still rushed and the tension between The Joker and Batman was not delivered with the impact it could have been. It also ended a little unfulfilling in my opinion and after it was over I was honestly let down, feeling this was very over hyped.

The animation was good for the most part but I’ve seen much better in the Batman series of animated films. I did enjoy the darker washed out color pallet and did like the comic-book feel of the styling and set-piece motions. I also thoroughly enjoyed the voice work in particular that of Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy who were both excellent.

But overall I wanted more from this movie and it just didn’t deliver it. It isn’t a waste of time by any means and certainly has its moments, but I think I will check out the graphic-novel someday to see if it tells the story better than this film was able to do.

Time: 76 min

MPAA Rating: R (for some bloody images and disturbing content)