A review on The Killing joke

By Mikaella Ibanez (staff Writer) -10/10/16

The joker giving his famous smile
The joker giving his famous smile

The highly anticipated adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel, Batman: The Killing Joke has finally arrived. On July 22, 2016, the DC Animated Universe film first premiered at the San Diego Comic-Con. With its release came many mixed reviews from both loyal fans and critics alike. The adaptation of the acclaimed graphic novel has been both praised for its casting choices, plot and soundtrack yet criticized for its weak animation as well as an irrelevant prologue.
The Killing Joke is solely about Batman (Kevin Conroy) and the Joker (Mark Hamill). It is the struggle between the two and their ideals: Batman’s nobility and justice versus Joker’s insanity and madness. One bad day. To the Joker, that is all it takes for one to go from sane to insane. To prove his point, the Joker proceeds to torments Batman’s close friend James Gordon (Ray Wise) to prove how easily the average man can go insane with just one bad day. The film follows Batman as he tries to save his friend by facing off the Joker all the while trying to keep his morals and sanity.
When the movie was first announced, there was much hype surrounding the fact that both Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill would be returning to voice Batman and the Joker. The voice actors fit and bring so much to their characters. Mark Hamill’s portrayal of the Joker has always been a fan favorite. His voice gives the Joker a mad and sadistic feel. It makes him even more unsettling and unpredictable than the he already is, not to mention Hamill’s Joker laugh, which has become iconic. Kevin Conroy and Tara Strong (voice of Batgirl) also give great depth to their respectful characters. I would give the casting a 5 out of 5 stars.
The plot, as it is based on a critically acclaimed graphic novel, is the strongest aspect of the film. It is a psychological story about Batman and his greatest foe. The storyline was intriguing, suspenseful, and gut-wrenching with many iconic and thought provoking quotes by the Joker.
While the movie has a great plot, it does take a while for the main storyline to begin. One of the biggest critiques the film has received was due the irrelevant prologue. For the first half hour, the film follows an unnecessary story line that covers Batgirl and her struggle with a Gotham mob boss. While it would have made an excellent story on its own, it had nothing to do with the main Batman and Joker plot. The producers claim it was meant as character development for Batgirl, but there are better ways to go along with that without sacrificing 30 minutes of a film. It’s a completely different story that does not tie in with the main storyline and adds nothing to the theme of the film. Had I had started watching the movie 30 minutes in, I would have given the plot a 5 out of 5, but alas, one cannot ignore this weak prologue. Therefore, I give the plot a 4 out of 5 stars.
“If someone had showed me this movie, I would have thought it was just some animated Batgirl movie rather than a film based on the Killing Joke,” states Desiree Felix, a Kennedy High School senior.
Another weak aspect of The Killing Joke was the poor animation. It was so blocky and choppy that it made the movie look cheap. It had an unoriginal and very standard art style especially when compared to other DC animated movies that have such great animation styles. I would give the animation a 3 out of 5 stars.
For the music, WaterTower Music and La-La Land Record created a beautiful orchestra score to accompany the film. It was created by Lolita Ritmanis, Kristopher Carter, and Michael McCuiston. The music added much and set the tone for specific scenes. Carter stated that the music is meant to support not only what is on screen, but what isn’t, such as what the characters and audience are feeling at specific moments of the film. I give the overall soundtrack a 5 out of 5 stars.
Even with all it’s flaws taken into notice, the film is overall entertaining. Seeing Batman face his greatest foe never gets old and even with the irrelevant prologue it was still an enjoyable film. I would give the film a 5 out of 5 stars in overall enjoyment.
Overall, Batman The Killing Joke receives a 4.4 out of 5 stars. The casting was perfect, and the soundtrack added much to the tone of the film. While the plot was great and it was overall an enjoyable film, one can’t overlook the wasted screen time as well as the poor animation. As many have stated, you can skip the first half hour of the film and you’ll watch an enjoyable and decent adaptation of The Killing Joke graphic novel.