Joker centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night…but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty character study.
Plot: An original standalone origin story of the iconic villain not seen before on the big screen, it’s a gritty character study of Arthur Fleck, a man disregarded by society, and a broader cautionary tale.
Director: Todd Phillips
Aspect Ratio: 1.85.1
Runtime: 122 min
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Joker gives its infamous central character a chillingly plausible origin story that serves as a brilliant showcase for its star — and a dark evolution for comics-inspired cinema.
Online Ratings: (Scores may vary while in theater)
“A cruel inside look of a man unwrapping a present to find there’s nothing inside.”
Review: NO SPOILERS!
Anything Batman related will always pique my interest, so when I first heard that there was going to be a standalone movie about the Joker I was ecstatic. Joaquin Phoenix is an amazing actor and I believed, even before I saw the film, that he could pull it off. It’s the kind of role that needs a very specific type of actor — they nailed that aspect with Joaquin. The first teaser was spot on and the trailer nailed the overall vibe. I just needed it to come out as fast as possible!
Before we get into the film, we have to bring up everything that has surrounded this movie. First it was acclaim and awards talk — now it’s shifted into a bigger discussion on violence in our culture. What’s terrible about the way news circulates and promotes itself online is the fact that everything is too far on one side and never anywhere in the middle. A channel that did this movie respectfully on both sides was the review from Fandom Entertainment — this was the first time it was brought to my attention to broaden my thoughts on the impact this film may or may not have when it hits theaters.
If you don’t want to watch or learn more on your own, I will try and summarize it for you. In a round about way, this movie is amazingly directed, acted and shot — yet, really disturbing. If this was titled “anything other than Joker” it would be a real life portrayal of a disturbed individual, but since it is the entitled Joker, it now has the possibility to be glorified and potentially even mimic’d.
Here’s my opinion on the matter, take it as you may: Since this movie is entitled Joker, we know it takes place in a fictional ‘Gotham world,’ so there is a slight disconnect from reality, even if it doesn’t appear that way on screen — that creates less opportunity for real-life glorification. If it was “just about your average guy” the actual ‘Joker effect’ could take place in reality where people want mimic someone on screen in a real world. That’s where I think the comic-book references (that are present in the movie) lessen the opportunity for that to take place.
Here is an except from a recent statement from Warner Brothers: “Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind. It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero.”
No matter what medium portrays violence; whether it’s movies, television, video games or music — people will always find some way be evil because that’s already inside of them. I don’t believe a movie will create or heighten something that isn’t already there. That just one random person’s thought on the internet — hopefully that’s not disrespectful for those voicing their concerns.
Back to the film.
Joker is riding a hype-train right now and everyone is drawing up their on conclusions at what this film will be, myself included. Now that I’ve been able to see it, I would say I was in the ballpark, but it’s definitely not as violent or savage as other sources are making it out to be. Don’t get me wrong, there is violence which can be brutal during a few scenes, but it’s nothing to set off alarms about. I’ve seen way more violent and mentally disturbing movies this year alone.
How would I put this film into words? It’s about a man named Arthur living with his mental illness and dealing with the harsh world around him. It’s not a pretty picture, he’s literally beat down again and again. As soon as something starts to go his way, it’s taken away. As soon as the moment might land where he’s happy, it’s ripped away. As soon as he begins to feel hope, it’s flipped to despair… You’re basically getting a cruel inside look of a man unwrapping a present to find there’s nothing inside. That’s the tone.
When he starts to fight back against the society that beats him down, he does so in violent and brutal ways. I wouldn’t go as far as to say you’ll end up rooting for him, but it definitely teeters in that direction. No spoilers here, but I’m curious at what you guys think. Did you relate to anything? Did you root for him? Let me know.
This is easily one of the best movies I’ve seen this year (2019) and I’m assuming it will stay that way. Don’t be shocked when those “Top 10” lists starting landing on your favorite sites in a few short months with this included on it. Other than that, this movie is masterfully shot with astounding cinematography and a great score to heighten the tension. Joker hits on all cylinders! Even more, I’m assuming the talk about this film will continue until the next Academy Awards — at the very minimum Joaquin Phoenix deserves a nomination for his work. He nails literally every aspect on screen and he carries the entire weight of the film at a near flawless level.
I have nothing negative to say at all — except for one scene. You’ve seen it 100 times and I don’t know why it had to be shown again. If I could change anything, it would just be to remove that 30 seconds. Once you see it you’ll know what I’m talking about — you probably already figured it out. I get it, we just don’t need it.
Other than that, make sure you do yourself a favor and head out to the theater this weekend to draw your own conclusions… don’t let the internet stray you away and don’t listen to any critics. In my opinion, I do believe that this is one of the must see movies of 2019. I don’t want a sequel or a tie in to another movie, let this movie and character standalone forever.
Update (10/9/19): I’ve now seen this film three times at my local Dolby Cinema and each time held up. If I’m being honest, I would say it was slightly better the next two times around because I knew the story and how everything what going to unfold. Keeping that in mind I’ve adjusted my previous score of a 9.5 to a 9.8 — this film boarders on perfection, it may just be that. I look forward to owning this in UHD where it’s sure to impress again not only because of it’s full screen ratio, but native 4K presentation. I’m hyped!
Go and catch a showing as soon as possible. What did you think of the film? Let me know in the comments below.
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