Batman: The Killing Joke is everything I’ve ever wanted from an animated Batman movie, or any Batman movie for that matter. The Restricted rating allows the film to go extremes I can’t even mention in this review. Needless to say, it’s not for children.
The animation style is still intact. It is very much the same as it was in Batman: The Animated Series. It was also great to once again hear the iconic voices of Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as The Joker. The real standout here is Tara Strong as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl. In many ways the story is hers, and she manages to outshine even Mark Hamill at times.
The story is as dark as I’ve ever seen in the DC animated universe. Paris Franz (Maury Sterling) is a mobster who develops a sick infatuation for Batgirl after she thwarts his plans. I got chills when Paris was taken to his arraignment by police. He tells the cameras (in a perversely maniacal tone) that he loves Batgirl.
Another direction I did not expect the story to go was the sexual tension between Batgirl and Batman. They actually do the deed. To make matters even more awkward, Batman knows that Batgirl is Barbara Gordon — the daughter of his friend police commissioner James Gordon (Ray Wise) — though the commissioner isn’t aware of it.
As for the Joker, the R rating means he can really let loose. You’ll have to see it for yourself, but I was stunned. The plot includes rape, murder and other disturbing things that are better left unmentioned.
Mark Hamill does an incredible job and he’s still my favorite Joker. We are treated to flashbacks of the Joker before he went mad. It’s almost scary hearing Mark Hamill’s calm, sympathetic voice coming out of a man who will later prove to be a psychopath.
The gore in this movie is chilling — because it’s animated in the same style as the children’s show Batman: The Animated Series. A children’s show perverted by unspeakable villainy. Now that’s a thriller.
The Blu-ray comes with the special features Batman: The Killing Joke – Madness Set To Music and Many Shades of Joker: The Tale of The Killing Joke. Both the DVD and Blu-ray also come with two classic animated Batman episodes. “Old Wounds” from The New Batman Adventures, and “Christmas with The Joker” from Batman: The Animated Series.
I loved Batman: The Killing Joke. It finally allowed me to see Batman: The Animated Series from an unfettered perspective. There should be sexual tension between Batman and Batgirl. There should be gore. The Joker should do horrible things. This is part of what made The Dark Knight so great, and it’s what makes this movie so great. The emotional stakes are higher, the consequences are greater and the villains are more intimidating. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.
After watching the trailer (above), you might be wondering: does Batman break his rule (he doesn’t kill bad guys) and kill the Joker? The R rating would hypothetically allow such a thing to occur.
You’ll just have to see for yourself. Whatever the outcome, it’s one hell of a ride getting there.
Have you seen Batman: The Killing Joke? Click here to write your own review and let me know if you agree or disagree with me in the comments below. ~ Yanis Khamsi