Is there some kind of Batman writers strike I’m unaware of? I have to imagine there are hundreds of thousands of writers penning Batman scripts right now, dying to be made into a movie. And yet out of all that we get two such poorly written scripts as we got this year in Batman v Superman and now Batman: the Killing Joke. That’s right. Unfortunately the animated Batman movie everyone was hoping would redeem the franchise sadly did not. In fact, in my opinion it is even worse.
I sincerely wanted this to be good because I love Mask of the Phantasm and list it as one of my top 50 favorite animated films of all time. To read that post click here. I had reason to be hopeful. They were going with an R rating which could mean they were taking some creative risks (I checked it out and it isn’t too hard an R so I decided it was acceptable for me). They had a really strong trailer and most importantly the original cast of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are back as Batman and Joker with great voice actress Tara Strong as Batgirl. This sounded great!
What a letdown!
The first 30 minutes are actually her story. The trailer is very deceiving in that regard. Joker does not appear in the film until the 37 minute mark and it is only a 75 minute movie. I’d love to see Batgirl but alas we have another poorly written female superhero character. Barbara Gordon is a character out of a soap opera (please don’t do that to Wonder Woman DC. please!). When her and Batman interact it didn’t feel genuine or earned at all. I didn’t even like her design which is very boob-focused. I know why artists design female characters this way (look at the rebooted female Power Rangers designs which are also very boob-focused). But it’s such a cheap way of making a character sexy. Batgirl should be sexy because of who she is not because she has a ridiculously large bosom.
She’s also a throwback to female characters I thought we had moved past. She’s basically a plot device for the male characters to trick, manipulate, encourage and rape (you read right) whenever the story needs her. She makes no plans herself aside from looking in a mirror and saying ‘Barbara what are you doing?’. Sigh. Give me a Mary Sue any day over this kind of convenient woman. Batman’s character is once again very flat and we get almost no Bruce Wayne. I mean next to nothing. So any kind of hiding who he is or struggles with how he is treating Batgirl are completely lost in a gruff bland guy wearing a mask. I think you may see Alfred once but it’s mostly just Batman grumbling about Batgirl getting in his way and other bland things. He might as well have been made of cardboard.
It’s called Killing Joke and you’d think that Joker and Batman would be together a lot. At least the trailer would leave you to believe that. Alas, just like Batman v Superman the title fight is very brief (about 7 minutes) and it resolves in a completely nonsensical way given the character development we’d seen so far. Then they give additional endings after the fight and I didn’t buy it for one second.
The animation isn’t even that good with nothing really special about it. It all feels like images we’ve seen before with amusement park rides and shadowy figures. When will they learn that just having a dark color palate doesn’t make something dark. You could have something truly disturbing in the sunlight. I mean Jaws creates fear and it is on a sun-dripped beach. It’s the characters that we get to know when they are taken to dark places that it becomes dark. Come on Hollywood- do better!
We also get another origin story because that’s exactly what we all needed right? Sigh…And it’s not even an interesting origin story but one with more corny melodrama. There have been like 30 animated Batman movies let alone the live action. Does anyone in the world not know how the Joker became the Joker? or how Bruce’s parents are killed? (I’m talking to you Batman v Superman). We all get it. Move on to something interesting in a story!
I’m so disappointed. At this point my hopes are on Lego Batman to save the character. I get that those who love the comic book may love this. I can’t say one way or another. All I know is I didn’t like it and was very letdown by it.
As far as the adult content it’s there but nothing really shocking or interesting done with it. No pencil in the eye moment for people who like that kind of thing. Blast…
The only really good thing I can say about this film is that the voice cast is strong as expected. I just wish they had been given something strong to do. It feels like they kind of decided last minute to make it R rated instead of it being an integral part of the design and story.
Maybe other people will like it but I thought it was a soapy mess and I really hated the way they portrayed Barbara Gordon. Next time make her an actual character that makes choices and then has a real story arc instead of a cog in your dopey movies timeline.
Overall Grade- D+