After recently reading the book, The Killing Joke, I wanted to watch the animated straight to DVD/Blueray version of the story. As with any beloved book, could a movie represent what was so popular in the book? Could a director and animation crew match Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s vision in the story? Did it meet expectations? Well…yes(ish).
Indeed they tried, but a big criticism is the imagined prologue that was added on. This almost 30 minute segment was about Batgirl, and her sexually charged relationship with Batman. Perhaps they felt this was necessary for the source material is a relatively short book, and even with the extended prologue the movie only clocked in at 77 minutes. While this add on was interesting about Barbara and her motives, it made her seem needy and much younger than the book portrays her. Plus, the sex issue with a former father figure was skevy. This would have made a great episode of a Batman tv series, but wasn’t well matched with the classic story.
Once The Killing Joke story began it got back on track. The animation tone matched Bolland’s illustration style, with the red crayfish and Barbara’s yellow shirt being duplicated faithfully. The voice actors were all superb, with Mark Hamill’s voice as the Joker being a standout. I’m glad they had him do the voice, knowing he would again be voicing the villain was a draw for many to watch this adaptation.
The ending fell a bit flat for me. I felt the book’s ending conveyed more power and ambiguity to Batman’s and Joker’s interaction. I felt in the movie they were just buddies laughing at a bad joke, instead of the questionably ominous ending of the book. Thus, I would give the movie a tepid recommendation, for it was interesting to compare the book to the movie.
Final thoughts: Although it received a R rating, for it contained some sexual content and violence, it felt like a PG13 movie to me. Teens could safely watch it in my opinion. As most super hero movies give a little Easter egg at the end, this remained true in this movie, so make sure you stick around through the credits.