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Sam Liu
Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Tara Strong
Writing Credits:
Brian Azzarello

As Batman hunts for the escaped Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime attacks the Gordon family to prove a diabolical point mirroring his own fall into madness.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Latin Spanish Dolby 5.1
Castillian Spanish Dolby 5.1
German Dolby 5.1
Latin Spanish
Castillian Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
Latin Spanish
Castillian Spanish

Runtime: 77 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 8/2/2016

• Sneak Peek at Justice League Dark
• Sneak Peek at The Dark Knight Returns
• Sneak Peek at Batman: Assault on Arkham
• “Madness Set to Music” Featurette
• “The Many Shades of the Joker” Featurette
• Two Animated Episodes
• Previews


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-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Batman: The Killing Joke [Blu-Ray] (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 10, 2019)

Based on the famous 1988 graphic novel of the same name, 2016’s Batman: The Killing Joke provides another DC animated film. A psychopathic gangster named Paris Franz (voiced by Maury Sterling) causes trouble for Batgirl (Tara Strong).

Eventually Franz kills his superior, crime boss Carl Francesco (John DiMaggio). This leads Batgirl and Batman (Kevin Conroy) to pursue Franz, all while their relationship goes through changes that eventually cause her to hang up the cowl.

Soon thereafter, the Joker (Mark Hamill) escapes from jail and launches one of his most sinister plans. We also see flashbacks to his pre-Joker life and what led him down his evil path.

While Batman’s origin story has remained fairly static over the years, the same can’t be said for the Joker. Indeed, the comics offered no explanation of his roots until 1951, more than 10 years after his debut.

Back in the 1980s, Killing Joke used that 1951 story as a basic template to give us a version of the Joker’s origins that largely stuck. For instance, 1989’s live-action Batman offered a take with more than a few similarities.

At its core, Joke comes with a strong story and interesting character developments, topics explored well in the source. Unfortunately, this animated adaptation misses the mark.

Perhaps it’s simply tough to due justice to a classic. The same issue affected the animated rendition of Frank Miller’s legendary Dark Knight Returns saga.

However, the two-part Returns managed a reasonable facsimile of Miller’s source. While not as good as the original graphic novel, it still satisfied, especially when it got to Part 2.

Unfortunately, Joke fails to reach the same level of general respectability, perhaps because it crams too much into one 77-minute movie. Maybe if it got the breathing room of the two-part Returns, it might offer a more compelling adaptation.

As it stands, though, Joke feels rushed and superficial. It touches on the basics of the source material but it lacks the same depth and emotional impact.

Even without the rushed pacing, Joke simply feels too “cartoony” to capture the comic’s darkness and horror. Because the movie replicates some of the same images from the graphic novel, we get glimpses of the drama, but these lack impact, as the overall impression fails to communicate the necessary tone.

All of this leads to a surprisingly tepid, bland version of the story. Despite the inherent pathos and substance, the animated Joke comes across as bland and forgettable.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

Batman: The Killing Joke appears in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I felt consistently pleased with this strong presentation.

No issues with sharpness emerged. The movie always came across as tight and well-defined, so don’t expect any signs of softness.

Jaggies and moiré effects also remained absent, and the image lacked edge haloes or artifacts. In addition, print flaws were a non-factor and didn’t appear at any point.

In terms of colors, Joke went with a dark palette that favored blues and greens. The tones looked solid, as they showed positive richness and vivacity.

Blacks were deep and tight, while shadows showed nice clarity. Across the board, the image worked well.

I thought the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Joke opened up the comic book material well. This wasn’t a particularly ambitious piece, but it added pizzazz to the program.

The forward channels brought out the majority of the material. Music presented strong stereo imaging, while effects cropped up in logical spots and blended well.

The surrounds also contributed good information. For the most part, these reinforced the forward channels, but they also contributed a fair amount of unique material, instances that mainly occurred during bigger action scenes. The back speakers brought out a nice sense of space and environment.

Audio quality always satisfied. Speech was warm and natural, without edginess or other issues.

Music sounded lively and full, while effects displayed good definition. Those elements seemed accurate and dynamic. All of this led to a positive presentation that deserved a “B”.

Like most DC animated Blu-rays, this one comes with multiple Sneak Peeks. The first previews Justice League Dark. It goes for eight minutes, 13 seconds and features director Jay Oliva, DC Entertainment Animation Creative Director Mike Carlin, producer James Tucker, and actors Jason O’Mara, Camilla Luddington, and Matt Ryan.

They tell us about the aspects of the film’s story and character areas. It’s a promo piece but it’s an effective one.

Two separate “peeks” discuss parts one and two of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. These fill a total of 19 minutes, 28 seconds and include comments from Carlin, Oliva, casting director Andrea Romano, screenwriter Bob Goodman, co-producer Alan Burnett, executive producer Bruce Timm, and actors Peter Weller, David Selby, Ariel Winter, Michael McKean, Michael Emerson and Mark Valley.

We get notes about story and characters as well as cast and performances. These become basic advertisement and not much more.

Finally, the “sneak peek” for Batman: Assault on Arkham runs seven minutes, 29 seconds and offers info from Oliva, Romano, Tucker, screenwriter Heath Corson, and actors Troy Baker and Matthew Gray Gubler.

We learn about the film’s story/characters as well as cast and various production elements. It’s another promotional piece, of course, but it’s more interesting than most.

Two featurettes follow, and Madness Set to Music lasts 11 minutes, 54 seconds and includes info from Timm, Carlin, Tucker, social psychology professor Benjamin Karney, composers Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis and Kristopher Carter, and actor Mark Hamill.

Though it touches on a few areas, “Madness” mainly looks at the movie’s music. It covers the subject in a reasonably effective manner.

The Many Shades of the Joker spans 17 minutes, 43 seconds and features Timm, Carlin, Karney, Oliva, DC co-publisher Dan DiDio and Gotham executive producer John Stephens.

“Shades” offers an examination of the Joker from a number of angles as well as some other extensions of Joke. As a basic history and introspective view, “Shades” works pretty well.

Under From the DC Vault, we get two animated episodes. Here we find “Christmas with the Joker” (22:26) Batman: The Animated Series and “Old Wounds” (21:11) from The New Batman Adventures.

“Christmas” works well, as it uses Joker nicely and offers a good combination of action and plot. “Wounds” doesn’t seem quite as strong, but it manages enough excitement to succeed.

The disc opens with ads for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and “DC Season Pass”. We also find trailers for Batman: Bad Blood and Suicide Squad.

An adaptation of a famous comic book, Batman: The Killing Joke doesn’t live up to the source. The film version feels tepid and fails to deliver the drama and horror at the tale’s core. The Blu-ray comes with excellent visuals, solid audio and a decent selection of supplements. Joke disappoints.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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