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Batman: The Killing Joke Review

"This ain't your Dad's Batman!"


This is exposure to a world of animation that exists outside of children’s films and Disney. This is not Adam West’s version of Batman, but a very adult version of the caped crusader.

Before the film begins, audiences will be treated to an interview with Mark Hamill (Star Wars: A New Hope) who provides the voice for The Joker. This nostalgic discussion helps to bring the historical element of this release of Batman: The Killing Joke. Hamill goes on to explain his involvement in the groundbreaking Batman: The Animated Series that dates back to 1992. This account helps those outside of the world of Comic-Con and the graphic novel universe to understand this television series and why it is celebrated for its dark styling, complexity of characters and mature writing and tone. It explains why it has made a multitude of websites ‘all-time best animated’ lists and has received multiple awards, including four Emmy Awards. Being a fan or not, the interview makes audiences aware that this theatrical release garners special attention.

btkj103583    This animated outing may be titled for the caped crusader, but it is truly a story that is focussed on two key relationships in this series. The first act deals with the complicated relationship between Batman (Kevin Conroy) and Batgirl (Tara Strong). The second act provides the origin story for Joker, but continues to provide a glimpse into the complexities of the relationship between these two super foes. Both acts of this graphic novel adventure show the psychological battle that Batman must endure in his maddening connection with his insane adversary and the sexual tension that has developed between him and his partner in fighting evil, Batgirl. These interconnected relationships blur the lines of good and evil while casting a warning against getting too emotionally involved with coworkers. After Joker escapes from the asylum for the criminally insane, Batman must work to apprehend his foe and come to the aid of his law enforcement connection and closest friend, Commisioner Gordon (Ray Wise) as well as the commissioner’s daughter, Barbara Gordon.

batman-the-killing-joke        The award winning animation and writing continue to lift this series above the standard cartoon fare that is generally produced for children. The artistic style has an actual comic book feel and the dialogue and jokes are written for an adult audience. The film honours the multi-layers characters and the original psychological nature of Batman , since its creation by DC’s Bob Kane and Bill Finger. The passion behind this production can be felt from the behind the scenes interview with Mark Hamill to the audience’s response. Hamill has managed to masterfully encapsulate the villain’s personality and the character development is unlike most of the animated options in the marketplace today. Even though it does not contain the actual artwork of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s graphic novel, the detail of the artistry, voice acting and writing are worth celebrating.

Before rushing out to take your child to this animated release of Batman, take into account that this film contains mature content. Sam Liu, who has directed many of the previous animated outings, brings audiences the first MA 15+ rated (R rated -US) of this series. The rating is justified due the storyline containing graphic violence, sexual content and mature language. Liu delivers a film that is true to the original graphic novel and shows his understanding of the nature of this winged superhero and his nemesis, but has made this film for true fans and mature audiences only. Batman: The Killing Joke proves to be an exceptionally divergent take on the this DC Comics hero that should make the fans cheer, but should be treated with caution for children.

  • Great writing
  • Fascinating character development
  • Good animation
  • Too graphic for children

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Russell is an American ex-pat who has been transplanted in his new home of Sydney. He is a reviewer for Insights Magazine and the blog Russelling Reviews. He moderates events called Reel Dialogue (reeldialogue.com) which connects the film industry with the general public.

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