BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE  [Blu-ray + Digital HD] [UK Release]
DC Universe Original Movie! Here’s To Crime! The First Adult Batman Animated Film!
From Executive Producer Bruce Timm and based on the acclaimed DC Comics graphic novel, “Batman: The Killing Joke” is a journey into the dark psyche of the Clown Prince of Crime. Follow his humble beginnings as a struggling comic to the fateful encounter with the Dark Knight that changed everything. Now escaped from Arkham Asylum, The Joker sets out to prove that one bad day can make anyone just as insane as he is. With The Joker’s sights set on Commissioner Gordon, can Batman stop the demented plan in time? Featuring a gripping prologue spotlighting Barbara Gordon [Batgirl] and featuring the return of Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill as The Joker and Tara Strong as Batgirl, witness the birth of a super villain, the fortitude of a hero and the punchline that will leave you speechless!
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: 2017 Behind the Voice Actors Awards: Win: BTVA People's Choice Voice Acting Award for Best Vocal Ensemble in a TV Special/Direct-to-DVD Title or Short for Andrew Kishino, Brian George, JP Karliak, Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Maury Sterling, Nolan North, Ray Wise, Robin Atkin Downes and Tara Strong. Nominated: BTVA Special/DVD Voice Acting Award for Best Vocal Ensemble in a TV Special/Direct-to-DVD Title or Short for Andrew Kishino, Brian George, JP Karliak, Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Maury Sterling, Nolan North, Ray Wise, Robin Atkin Downes and Tara Strong. Nominated: Best Female Vocal Performance in a TV Special/Direct-to-DVD Title or Short for the voice of "Barbara Gordon / Batgirl."
Voice Cast: Kevin Conroy (Batman), Mark Hamill (The Joker), Tara Strong (Barbara Gordon / Batgirl), Ray Wise (Commissioner Gordon), John DiMaggio (Francesco), Robin Atkin Downes (Detective Bullock), Brian George (Alfred), JP Karliak (Reese), Andrew Kishino (Murray), Nolan North (Mitch), Maury Sterling (Paris), Fred Tatasciore (Carny Owner), Bruce Timm (Patrolman), Anna Vocino (Jeannie), Kari Wahlgren (Call Girl) and Rick D. Wasserman (Maroni)
Director: Sam Liu
Producers: Alan Burnett, Amy McKenna, Benjamin Melniker, Bruce Timm, Kohei Kenmotsu, Michael E. Uslan and Sam Register
Screenplay: Brian Azzarello (written), Brian Bolland (illustrator), Bob Kane (Batman creator), Bill Finger (Batman creator) and Alan Moore (graphic novelist)
Composers: Kristopher Carter, Lolita Ritmanis and Michael McCuistion
Image Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
French: 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio
German: 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio
Spanish [Castilian]: 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio
Spanish [Latin]: 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio
English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, French, German, Spanish [Castilian] and Spanish [Latin]
Running Time: 76 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Warner Home Video
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Delve into the demented history of The Dark Knight’s arch nemesis “The Joker” as he sets out to prove insanity is only a horrifying moment away for anyone in the latest DC Universe Original Movie, ‘BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE’  is based on one of the best-selling graphic novels of all time by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland, and this R-rated, feature-length animated film brings together some of the key creative team behind Batman: The Animated Series with executive producer Bruce Timm at the helm and Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill returning to their seminal roles as Batman and The Joker, respectively and produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment, ‘BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE’ has finally arrived from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on the awesome Blu-ray format.
Here we find The Joker, years later, and now escaped from Arkham Asylum, The Joker devises a plan to prove that one bad day can make anyone as insane as he is and setting his sights on Commissioner Gordon. It’s up to the Dark Knight to put a stop to The Joker’s latest scheme and save one of Gotham City’s finest. Following a gripping prologue introducing Barbara Gordon’s heroic adventures alongside Batman as Batgirl, ‘BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE’ stays true to the authentic tale that has held fans’ imaginations for nearly three decades and spotlighting the birth of a Super-Villain, the fortitude of a Super Hero and the punchline that will leave you speechless.
When it comes to adapting iconic and fan-favourite graphic novels or comic book storylines, expectations can be high, especially when it comes to such renowned characters like Batman and The Joker. Batman: The Killing Joke is undoubtedly one of the most famous and controversial graphic novels ever written, forever altering the status quo of Gotham City’s heroes. The animated film had a lot to live up to and with Batman and Joker voice veterans Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill it certainly does entertain. That said, however, even they’re not enough to elevate this film to become something truly great.
A lot of the problem with ‘BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE’ and its adaptation lies in the first portion of the film. The story itself was too short to turn into a full-length animated film, so writer Brian Azzarello and producer Bruce Timm decided to add an original story following Batgirl as the first act. Batgirl’s adventure started well, but petered off due to some bizarre choices with Batgirl’s characterization, specifically her sexual tension-filled relationship with Batman. While some writers have added a romantic element to their relationship in the past, namely in Batman Beyond, the way it was done here reduced Batgirl to a crime fighter seemingly defined by her infatuation with her mentor.
There was part of this story that did work thematically at least. Batgirl’s adventure led her to chase an out of control mobster who was growing increasingly obsessed with her. Batman tried impressing upon her the importance of not letting a criminal grow that obsessed, vaguely alluding to his relationship with Joker. It was a very important theme that set up the actual Killing Joke portion of the film, yet this served Batman’s arc more than it did Batgirl’s. While she had some cool sequences, and Tara Strong once again performed her very well, Batgirl’s character ultimately didn’t get serviced very well at all. Nor does it serve Batman either as it somewhat turns his fight against Joker into a ‘you hurt my girlfriend’ type scenario.
The film picks up, though, once it gets to the actual adaptation of The Killing Joke. Much like the source material, it moves along at a brisk pace and doesn’t shy away from the book’s dark imagery. A couple added scenes build up Joker’s frightening reputation among the denizens of Gotham and further his attempt to drive Gordon insane, though there is one added scene between Batman and some prostitutes that gave me pause about Joker’s characterization, again making a bizarre choice stand out.
Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy elevate the content they’re given and are the standouts of the film. Long-time fans of Mark Hamill’s The Joker will be very pleased hearing him recite the famous passages of The Killing Joke. Bruce Timm and director Sam Liu even managed to bring to life the book’s musical number in a creepy manner, making it one of the film’s highlights and Mark Hamill sells the scene very well and also gives a very distinctive performance as The Joker in the flashbacks, painting the villain in a very sympathetic and tragic light.
Kevin Conroy similarly delivers a great performance as Batman, even in the first half of the film. Along with being his usual badass self, Conroy also gives a nuanced and emotional performance throughout the film, particularly in his interactions with The Joker. All his rage, despair and sympathy shine through and the final moment is something many fans of this genre will surely love.
Fundamentally this entire story revolves around the core conflict within The Joker and Batman’s relationship in which they want to understand each other. Batman in this narrative is desperate to try and sort things out before it’s too late, knowing full well that their battle will only end with one of them killing the other. You can see that all he wants to do is help Joker, finally admitting that he himself suffered a “bad day” the same as The Joker and that he can help him recover from his demons. The Joker truly wants Batman to admit that he is as crazy as him and even suspects that Batman suffers from a similar past as him, but Batman teases him with the knowledge that only he could go mad and nobody else.
‘BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE’ is very much a dark, gritty journey into the mind-set of the Joker as he pushes the boundaries of proving a point through sick, twisted mind games which will leave you disturbed. It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted. As stated above, this is very much a character piece exploring the Clown Prince of Crime and his complex nature, as well as his unique bond with Batman. Also one cannot forget about the brilliant little number in the middle where Joker has a song and dance, whilst Gordon is driven to the point of madness as he stares at multiple pictures of his daughter naked and bleeding. Mark Hamill as The Joker certainly got to shine in his moment of glory as he sends off his beloved incarnation with a bang, and it was bittersweet to see this occasion joined by Kevin Conroy as Batman as the two of them sparred off each other in the ultimate finale conclusion, one that will leave you both surprised and totally satisfied.
BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE MUSIC TRACK LIST
I GO LOONEY (Composed by Michael McCuistion, Kristopher Carter and Lolita Ritmanis) [Performed by Mark Hamill]
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Blu-ray Image Quality – Warner Home Video and DC Comics Blu-ray release is presented in in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, and the 1080p encoded image transfer looks extremely good. The stylised ambience of colours holds up very nicely and really pops out of the screen; and additionally, image detail is really crisp and black levels are fairly consistent, to give a very solid animation. The reds of Barbara’s hair, or her shirt, or the pasty white of The Joker’s face shows up with impressive clarity. The animated film is as always for a Batman animated film, and is bathed in darkness and black levels are very important. Overall, this a very nice looking image transfer for all fans of the DC Comic animated line-up. So a good job well done.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Warner Home Video and DC Comics presents us with a very robust 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. It also contains a good balance of action mixed in with the drama, and also gets regular use of the surround channels, as well as the directional effects that is used to good use. Gunfire and fistfights have plenty of punch, music cues sound full and rich, and the dialogue is uniformly crisp and easy to understand. But what we experience with the sounds certainly does the job really well and Batman fans should appreciate the effort all round, and especially listening to the raindrops falling when Batman pulls Commissioner Gordon out of cage. I honestly thought it was raining outside as the drops sound ridiculously accurate sound mix. The weight and power behind the bat mobile explosion rocks the listener in their seats, and the fisticuffs carry a surprising amount of power to them. So a very good and excellent effort all round.
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Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Trailers: Here you get to view two different trailers that start after the Blu-ray disc loads up and they are as follows: ‘BATMAN V SUPERMAN: Dawn of Justice’  [1080p] [2.35:1] [2:37] and DC Television Series  [1080p] [1.78:1] [00:42].
Trailer: Batman: Bad Blood  [1080p] [1.85:1] [1:28] When Batman goes missing, it will take the entire Bat “family” including new additions Batwoman and Batwing to keep the peace in Gotham City and unravel the mystery behind the Dark Knight’s disappearance in ‘Batman: Bad Blood.’ This is a promotional trailer for the release of the DC Universe Original Movie and Warner Bros. Animation Blu-ray and Digital HD release. The trailer is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.
Trailer: ‘SUICIDE SQUAD’  [1080p] [2.35:1] [2:33] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for the film ‘SUICIDE SQUAD.’ It is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.
Trailer: DC All Access App  [1080p] [1.78:1] [1:16] This is a really mind numbing and totally stupid promo for mobile phone idiot users. I have never seen two totally pathetic and ghastly American presenters, who I feel have been beamed down from “Planet Nerdsville.”
Special Feature: From the DC Comic Vaults: 2 Bonus Cartoons: Here we get to view two cartoons from the Warner Bros. Vault of classic episodes from the animated DC Comics television series Batman: The Animated Series and they are as follows:
Batman: The Animated Series: Christmas with The Joker  [1080i] [1.37:1] [22:26] "Christmas with the Joker" is the thirty-eighth episode of Batman: The Animated Series. The Joker escapes Arkham Asylum on Christmas Eve and has a special Christmas planned for Batman and Robin. Kidnapping Commissioner Gordon, Summer Gleeson, and Harvey Bullock, he threatens to kill them at midnight. Of course, things are never easy with the Joker and he sets a few disasters in motion to keep Batman and Robin busy that Christmas night. It originally aired on 13th November, 1992. Voice Cast: Kevin Conroy, Robert Costanzo, Bob Hastings, Clive Revill, Mark Hamill, Mari Devon and Loren Lester. Directed by Kent Butterworth.
The New Batman Adventures: ‘Old Wounds’  [1080p] [1.37:1] [21:11] ‘Old Wounds’ is the eighteenth episode of The New Batman Adventures. Originally airing was on 3rd October, 1998. It reveals the story of how and why Dick Grayson left the role of Robin after the end of “Batman: The Animated Series” and how Barbara discovered their secret identities and became part of the team. Voice Cast: Kevin Conroy, Tara Strong, Loren Lester, Mathew Valencia, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Mark Hamill, Townsend Coleman, Neil Ross, Ian Buchanan and Pamela Hayden. Directed by Curt Geda.
Special Feature: A Sneak Peek at DC Universe’s Next Animated Movie: ‘Justice League Dark’  [1080p] [1.78:1] [8:14] Here we get a short in-depth view about the upcoming ‘Justice League Dark’ DC Universe Original Movie animated film being released on Blu-ray and Digital HD. James Tucker [Producer], Mike Carlin [Creative Director of Animation for DC Entertainment], Jay Oliva [Director], Matt Ryan [John Constantine], Jason O’Mara [Batman], Camilla Luddington [Zantanna], Nicholas Turturro [Deadman] and Ray Chase [Jason Blood/Etrigan].
Special Feature: A Sneak Peek at ‘Batman: The Dark Knight Returns’ Part One  [1080p] [1.78:1] [12:36] Here we get another short in-depth view about the release of the DC Comics animation to be released on Blu-ray and Digital HD. As to the synopsis, it revolves around why Batman has not been seen for ten years. A new breed of criminal ravages Gotham City, forcing 55-year-old Bruce Wayne back into the cape and cowl. But, does he still have what it takes to fight crime in a new era? Contributors include Bruce Timm [Executive Producer], Bob Goodman [Screenwriter], Alan Burnett [Co-Producer], Jay Oliva [Director], Mike Carlin [Creative Director for Animation at DC Entertainment], Andrea Romano [Voice Director], Peter Weller [Batman], David Selby [Jim Gordon], Ariel Winter [Robin] and Michael McKean [Dr. Wolper].
Special Feature: A Sneak Peek at ‘Batman: The Dark Knight Returns’ Part Two  [1080p] [1.78:1] [6:52] Here we get another short in-depth view about the release of the DC Comics animation to be released on Blu-ray and Digital HD. As to the synopsis, here we find out that Batman has returned after a 10-year absence. The Gotham authorities want to arrest him. An old foe wants a reunion. The Feds want the Man of Tomorrow to put a stop to him. Contributors include Jay Oliva [Director], Bob Goodman [Screenwriter], Bruce Timm [Executive Producer], Michael Emerson [The Joker], Mike Carlin [Creative Director for Animation at DC Entertainment], Alan Burnett [Co-Producer], Mark Valley [Superman], Michael Emerson [The Joker], Peter Weller [Batman], Ariel Winter [Robin] and Andrea Romano [Voice Director].
Special Feature: A Sneak Peek at ‘Batman: Assault on Arkham’  [1080p] [1.78:1] [7:29] Here we get view the final short in-depth view about the release of the DC Comics animation to be released on Blu-ray and Digital HD. As to the synopsis, here we find Batman works desperately to find a bomb planted by the Joker while Amanda Waller hires her newly formed Suicide Squad to break into Arkham Asylum to recover vital information stolen by the Riddler. Contributors include Jay Oliva [Co-Director], James Tucker [Producer], Andrea Romano [Voice Director], Heath Corson [Screenwriter], Matthew Gray Gubler [The Riddler], Troy Baker [The Joker], Neal McDonough [Deadshot], CCH Pounder [Amanda Waller] and Kevin Conroy [Batman].
Special Feature: Madness Set to Music  [1080p] [1.78:1] [11:54] This documentary looks at the step-by-process of one of the most crucial scenes in ‘BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE,’ including the methodology James Tucker used to storyboard Brian Bolland’s stunning illustrated work for the screen; Dynamic Music Partners composers/lyricists creative merging of original music with the poetic words from the graphic novel to provoke the desired feelings and emotions for the critical scene in the animated film. We also view behind-the-scene in the recording studio with the brilliant orchestra and also actor Mark Hamill in the recording studio being totally physical and over the top, having a brilliant time and devoted to his performance in capturing the world¹s most notorious Super-Villain in song, to go with the awesome Busby Berkeley tribute music number in the animated film ‘BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE.’ Contributors include Kristopher Carter [Composer], Michael McCuistion [Composer], Lolita Ritmanis [Compoer], Benjamin Karney, PhD [Social Psychology Professor at the UCLA], Bruce Timm [Executive Producer], Mike Carlin [Creative Director for Animation at DC Entertainment], Mark Hamill [The Joker] and James Tucker [Storyboard Artist].
Special Feature: BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE: The Many Shades of The Joker  [1080p] [1.78:1] [17:43] Brian Bolland’s artwork is instantly recognisable to comic book enthusiasts all over the world. Known for his amazing cover art, it was a rare inclusion into the body of a graphic novel, “Batman: The Killing Joke,” that helped the perennial story of Batman and The Joker remain a fan favourite for decades to come. Combined with the graphic novel’s original script, which is more than just the telling of a story, but an intricate map explaining every stop along the way to the end of a fantastic journey, and this documentary reveals the artistic process behind BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE’s distinct style. We learn how artists and writers excelled at conveying story and human emotion one panel at a time, mesmerising readers with unforgettable stories and humanized depictions of heroes and villains. And why after nearly 30 years in print, “Batman: The Killing Joke” is more thought provoking than ever, as its socio-economic themes are relatable to generation after generation. Contributors include Dan DiDio [Co-Publisher of DC Comics], Bruce Timm [Executive Producer], Benjamin Karney, PhD [Social Psychology Professor at the UCLA], Mike Carlin [Creative Director for Animation at DC Entertainment], John Stephens [Television Producer, Screenwriter and Director for ‘Gotham’] and Jay Oliva [Director].
Finally, this DC Comic animated film is well worth checking out, especially if you are a massive fan of the DC Comic publications, especially with the over the top characters from the original graphic novels. I think this is a very solid animated film, and I do not think it is a disadvantage to have not read any of the DC Comic publications, however I would say this should not stop any Batman fans from watching this animated film, despite the massive negative comments about this particular animated film. ‘BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE’ is a tale of essentially of the macabre, darkly comic thriller which flaunts the macabre potential of the Batman universe proudly. It is a story which acts as a kind of philosophical on two bizarre but brilliant main characters and that’s probably why the opening story stands out so much. More than anything, ‘BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE’ feels like a final stamp of approval on Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy’s incredible pairing, giving the two performers a great story and some of the best Batman/The Joker dialogue available to prove why they’re still as potent a pairing more than twenty years since they started. Mark Hamill in particular provides his most layered rendition of the Clown Prince of Crime to-date, seizing the opportunities in Alan Moore’s story to flesh out The Joker’s chaos with a little tragedy, back-story, and the calmer tones of a pre-acid supervillain. In the end, ‘BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE’ is an enjoyably twisted animated Batman film with a good pace of action paced drama and a very gripping story, and ultimately watchable for its very iconic tongue in cheek dialogue and superb performances all round. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado
Le Cinema Paradiso