Grade B

Based on the one-shot comic book of the same title from the late 1980s, “Batman: The Killing Joke” is a disturbing story that deals with four main issues: Joker’s vicious assault on Batgirl; Batman’s uneasy alliance/relationship with Batgirl; Joker’s origin story; and Batman’s perverse affinity for The Joker.

After an unnecessarily lengthy intro of Batgirl’s/Batman’s relationship which doesn’t truly mesh with the second and third acts (said intro not part of the comic book, as far as I can remember), “Killing Joke” gets to the meat of the story, when The Joker attacks Batgirl and kidnaps her father, who is Police Commissioner Gordon.  Batman goes on a rampage, going after every criminal he comes upon to get evidence of where The Joker is.  But when Batman finally finds The Joker, will it be too late?  Will The Joker bring out the madness in Commissioner Gordon?  Will Batman finally succumb to his own rage and kill The Joker?

My most memorable, movie moment of “Batman: The Killing Joke” is **SPOILER ALERT** the scene when Batgirl, not in costume, opens her apt. door expecting a friend and instead sees The Joker pointing a gun to her stomach.

Fans of the source material — I’m one — will most likely not find this adaptation as satisfying as the original.  The comic was less than 48 pages if my memory serves me correctly, and in those few pages it packed one hell of a story that was well-paced and intense.   This movie, by expanding a short story into near-feature length, adds scenes and sequences that slow the movie down.  Yes, the extra stuff adds backstory which yields greater understanding of the main characters; but the pacing and high intensity are sacrificed.

Although far from being great, “Batman: The Killing Joke” is a good movie; and Mark Hamill’s performance as The Joker is outstanding, as usual.

— M