Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)

Plot: The Killing Joke is two different stories that don't tie up together. The first is a story about Batman and Batgirl chasing down a gangster while the second is the actual story of Alan Moore's The Killing Joke. In The Killing Joke the Joker shoots Barbra Gordon and captures Jim Gordon in attempt to prove that anyone can go crazy from a bad day, so it's up to Batman to save Jim Gordon and stop the Joker.

This movie has been out for a while but because of focusing on a few other things I haven't had time to take a look at it yet. But after checking a paper for class I decided to go on Amazon, rent the movie and take a look for myself. And after all this waiting how does the animated version of the ever so classic Batman comic Batman The Killing Joke hold out? Honestly I'm going to say roughly the same thing that everyone has said already; first 28 ish minutes or so the movie is completely useless while the rest of it is virtually everything you'd expect the film adaption of the graphic novel.

Let's start with the good stuff because there isn't a whole lot to say. Now I don't mean that in that it's bad at all. On the contrary, it delivers exactly what fans have been waiting for, for so long. When we get to the actual story of The Killing Joke it's essentially everything people have been waiting for. It's the entire infamous story told almost exactly the way its portrayed in the novel panel by panel. The only real differences between the novel and the movie is different locations for some of the last lines of dialogue between Batman and Joker and that it includes Joker doing a musical number while he tortures Jim Gordon, but none of these things are big changes to whine and complain about. Both Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprise their roles as Batman and The Joker and no one would want it any other way. These guys are the definitive Batman and Joker in many people's eyes and for a film adaptation of The Killing Joke most people wouldn't want these characters to be performed by anyone else. I've heard that Hamill in particular wanted this to finally happen and thinking back to when I was watching the film it shows. From the musical number alone you can probably tell he's having a ton of fun finally playing the character in such an iconic batman story. The animation was great (thought Batman's ears were a little over-the-top in hindsight), the story telling was great, it's ultimately everything most people wanted for a film adaption of the infamous graphic novel.

Not let's talk about the first half hour of the movie. People are complaining how this is completely useless because all it really is it is just a story of Batgirl and Batman chasing down a gangster and have a brief sexual relationship. Long story cut short, they're right. While the animation is as good as you'd expect from the studio and there are some good action scenes, it doesn't hold any purpose to the main story. As far as anyone's concerned, it's just a short episode of Batman the Animated Series that's just pushed in, so they could have gotten rid of the first 28 or so minutes of the movie and you would have lost absolutely nothing. On top of that, like I said, it also has Batman and Batgirl in a sexual relationship which most people are highly against. Jeremy Jahns argued that this is not too big of a deal as people are making it given that there have been adaptions were something like this has happened before, and granted both DC and Marvel have given us different adaptions were there different relationships between the characters (i.e. Black Widow and Hulk in Age of Ultron.) But I think at this point in the comic book world, people are starting to become more associated with  Batman and Batgirl's relationship depicted as more of a niece and uncle relationship as Doug Walker puts it in his own review for the film. Plus I'm going to be bluntly honest, Batman having sex with college girl Barbara Gordon is kind of creepy to me. Anyway, people are talking about the first 28 minutes more than the main story which is unfair but at the same time it's well deserved. We know they were trying to make it so that it ties into The Killing Joke, but it's an attempt that wasn't needed. All we really wanted was just the 40+ minutes of The Killing Joke brought into film and nothing else. I think another reason why people feel so distanced from the last 40 minutes of the film is because the tones between both stories are completely different. The Killing Joke is dark, brooding and has a timeless feel to it whereas the first 28 minutes has a relatively lighter story and dialogue that feels more modern. They just don't match up. So I think people are especially pissed because the first 28 minutes did virtually nothing to even set the mood for the story we were waiting for and it ultimately compromises the entire experience.

Does this mean there's nothing worth seeing in the first 28 minutes? Well personally I wouldn't go that far. As I said before, the animation & action are still great and as far as a short of Batman and Batgirl capturing a gangster goes it's not the most boring story I've ever heard. There's even scenes where Batman and Batgirl talk about what it means to be on the edge when they're doing what they do that I think it's worth remembering. I guess if you just want to see Batman and Batgirl hunting down gangsters, kicking butt and all around giving us the standard action that you expect in the world of Batman, you'll get your fill. But as far as a part of Batman: The Killing Joke goes, this would have made much more sense if they replaced chasing the gangster with chasing the Joker prior to the events of the Killing Joke comic.

If there's anything else I feel I should talk about, it would have to be the film's R rating. At first I thought this was going to be a movie that well deserved that rating given the content of the graphic novel, but what I saw instead was more warranting a PG-13 rating. It seems like they just gave the film the rating to make it look like they're really edgy when really it's nothing particularly special. Granted, film is subjective and thus the rating system is subjective too, but when I think of films that deserve and R rating, I think of films like Deadpool, The Godfather, Saving Private Ryan, Gamer - films where there's a considerable amount of blood/gore and the sexual content is showing people having sex and seeing the nipples of women's breasts or something like that. Here, you have Batgirl beating a guy until blood is coming from his mouth, two guys killed off from clean shots in the head, a sex scene that's cut off before it gets graphic and while Barbra Gordon is stripped naked in the main story, we don't see so much of her body that's particularly risque, at least none that I saw. I guess it really depends on what is considered too much for you, but to me most of this was standard PG-13 content.

And that's my review for Batman: The Killing Joke. The first 28 minutes have some good things in it, but it's completely pointless in the long run, while the rest of the film is more than likely everything you wanted out of a film adaption of the graphic novel. If you're a fan of the book but haven't seen the movie, I do recommend just skipping past the first 28 minutes in order to have a solid good time, but as a whole movie it's a mixed bag. Take it for what it's worth and see for yourself.

Rating: 65%    

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