MUReview is honored to have been invited to a press screening of Batman The Killing Joke from Warner Brothers Animation featuring Kevin Conroy (Batman, Mark Hamill (Joker) and Tara Strong (Barbara Gordon / Batgirl). Thank you Fathom Events!
There is already a lot of buzz around the film between San Diego Comic Con and other early reviews, so I’ve done my best to avoid those reviews to give you a pure one of my own…it has been tough. Also for the uninitiated (like the person I brought with me, my wife), Batman The Killing Joke bases itself off of a graphic novel of the same name written by Alan Moore about 30 years ago. The novel is one of the most talked about in the history of graphic novels. If you haven’t read it…it’s been out since 1988…get on that. It features Joker doing some of the worst things he’s ever done on the comic book page, specifically to Barbara Gordon / Batgirl in an effort to part the good Commissioner Gordon of his stern bond with sanity.
Our theater of choice, Farmingdale Multiplex, Monday July 25 at 7:30. Earlier in the day I’d received word from our friends at Fathom Events that they had expected the event to be packed, get there early. So we did. At first, no biggie, but 10 minutes to show time, the theater was full and the swell of giant clueless late comers were searching out seats not to be had. Seriously folks, if you are going to a movie or event, get there before show time or you deserve the consequences you will face. Sorry…things like that frustrate me, but at the end of the day, my butt was in a nice cushy recliner, well positioned to enjoy the show with the love of my life, my wife…who has never really heard of The Killing Joke before today.
The event began with a foreword by a Hollywood type. Then, before the film rolled, we got a nice interview with Mark Hamill recalling his rise to Jokerdom’. If you can believe it, people were heckling Mark Hamill…a film of Mark Hamill. Unfortunately for the hecklers, the interview turned out to be both interesting and insightful, before the end, they shut up. That was nice, I like when they shut up.
On to the feature presentation, now…there were some major changes and additions to some key plot points in the story. The first addition was about the first 28 minutes of the movie, focusing on Barbara Gordon’s adventures and frustrations as Batgirl. It is against this segment that Killing Joke purists have expressed their internet rage. I’m not terribly offended by it. I’m not going to tell you what it is, but if it were a 30 minute TV show, it wouldn’t make me think less of the strength of Barbara Gordon or Batgirl. People are complicated and the first 30 minutes of the film got into that. If I were making the movie, I probably would have expanded on the events of the Killing Joke and not written a Barbara Gordon story as a preface, but that’s just me.
After the first 30 minutes are over, things become very familiar to the source material. The film, the film’s art style, dialog, and events are strikingly similar to the events portrayed in the 30 year old Alan Moore graphic novel. What it conveys is that there is a very fine line between the Joker and the Batman, and also that the Joker is hell bent on making the world as crazy as he is, one Commissioner Gordon at a time. From the switch of focus off of Batgirl, right to the uncomfortable laughter at the end, Warner Bros. Animation mostly does a very good job of doing justice to one of the most iconic and revered Batman stories of all time.
You can check out Batman The Killing Joke via digital channels (iTunes / etc…) starting 7/26. You can find it in stores on physical media, DVD and Blu-Ray 8/2/16. Thank you once again to Fathom Events and Warner Bros for the invite to the big show. Fathom Events does a great job of making “just going to the movies” like you are doing something more special than that. Check out all of the other fun stuff happening at Fathom Events at fathomevents.com.