Lucien’s Review: Batman: The Killing Joke

batman-the-killing-jokeOne of the biggest comics of all time has finally been made into a movie.  I’m honestly surprised it took this long.  It’s probably the most well-known of Alan Moore’s comics, and for good reason.  The visuals, the incredibly dark story, and the cryptic ending that a lot of people have had some very interesting discussions about.  It’s all very cool, and while I’m not a comic book person, even I have to respect the classics such as that.  This film was created in the vein of the best of that.  At least, when it was telling the story of the comic.  When it wasn’t, this movie has one of the most surreal subplots that goes from 0-60 in a nanosecond.  It was seriously so jarring that I was given whiplash.  I don’t get how this movie was able to do this.  They could have easily followed the plot of the comic and it would have been a short but sweet film.  Most of my review, in fact, is going to focus on that subplot, because it is such a problem.  But let’s get down to the nit and grit first.

I won’t give a plot summary.  If you know anything about Batman comics, you already know what it is.  Joker is getting his dander up about fucking with Batman’s day, by putting a bullet into Barbara Gordon’s back and terrorizing her father.  That should have been all of the plot, but nope!  Still not where I want to be to talk about the biggest flaw in this movie, so let’s get some other stuff out of the way.

The animation of this movie isn’t superb, which is a little strange.  I may not always like the movies from WB Animation, but I have always seen their animation as spot-on.  It’s really something.  Especially the action sequences.  For the flaws of the films from this studio, the slick action has always been something that I have enjoyed.  And to this movie’s credit, when it wants to shine, it does.  But it’s just so ho-hum the rest of the time.  It’s kind of like a typical episode of Batman: The Animated Series.  My biggest problem with this episode takes pretty much the runtime of an average episode of that series, so maybe it fits.

When it comes to the acting, we got some of the best.  We got Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprising their iconic roles, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  The girl who played Batgirl is also pretty good.  I think they even got the butler from The Animated Series too..  That was a nice touch.

But now we get to the part that I want to talk about.  This isn’t really one movie.  It’s a movie and an episode of The Animated Series.  The first 28 minutes of this film is literally some other movie.  It has absolutely ZERO connection to the events that follow it.  None.  It tells the story of a case surrounding a man who has a creepy obsession with Batgirl.  This plot has zero relevance to what happens later.  Absolute zero.  You could cut it out of the film and it wouldn’t hurt a thing.  I am just trying to understand why it is in here.  For real, why?  I’m about to spoil this subplot, but since it does absolutely zip to affect the rest of the film, that doesn’t do any damage.

What’s more, it’s a strange as fuck subplot too.  You have this guy who is obsessed with Batgirl.  Okay.  You have Batgirl and Batman investigating, and there being some tension between the two.  Okay.  Then you find out from Barbara talking to her gay friend that she is into some guy who is an authority figure in her life.  Gee, I wonder who that is.  Okay.  This is the kind of stuff that really should have been spaced out more.  You have what would be two or three episodes worth of personal exploration in the series that this animation is riffing on condensed into 15 minutes of plot.  The pacing of this little “episode” is just nuts!  There is something about how Batgirl won’t know what it is to be in her position unless she goes to the edge.  Alright.  Then sex!  Wait, what?  As I said, 0-60 in a nanosecond.

The choices done in making this part of the film just baffles me.  Why do this?  The plot of “The Killing Joke” is all you need.  For real, that’s it.  All you’d have to do is have that plot.  The movie would be half an hour shorter, sure, but whatever.  Why add this on when it literally goes nowhere and once it’s done you are basically told to forget about it.  Hell, the movie even tells you to forget about it.  With some stupid narration that opens and closes the “episode,” you as an audience member are told to forget about it.  It is impossible for me to fathom why this choice was made.  It brings the pace of this movie to a grinding halt and leaves you feeling like your time was wasted because the film even tells you that it was meaningless.  I don’t get this.  It’s pissing me off.  Part of me wishes that there was some whole other movie made to explain this, because you are basically force-fed through exposition that Barbara is into Batman.  Where did this come from?

This has NOTHING to do with the whole “bat-sex” thing that so many critics like Angry Joe got on.  I don’t care about that.  If B-man and B-girl want to get their freak on, that’s fine.  But I need to care about it.  I need to care about why this is happening.  But I don’t.  It’s packed into another movie that has NOTHING to do with this plot.  That’s my problem here.

All in all, this isn’t a bad movie.  For real, when we get to the part that is the namesake of this movie, it’s actually pretty good.  However, to get there, we have to wade through a subplot that is like a drive-by episode of The Animated Series.  After a year of bad DC films, I was really hoping that this would be the one to make it all better.  But nope.  It was just another so-so movie to add to the pile.  And all thanks to that retarded subplot.  What a shame.

Final Verdict
6 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

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