So Joker is finally available to the general public and, you wouldn’t believe it, but I was actually excited to see this movie. Not that I’m never excited to see most superhero movies, it’s just that there is a formula that works and, no matter how many times Marvel changes it slightly, they are all basically the same movie. (That’s my controversial opinion of the day!)
Joker on the other hand looked very unique and reminded me of the appeal of The Dark Knight back when it first came out. It’s a low budget character study on the origin of the most famous comic book villain of all time. I have read books like The Killing Joke that delve into The Joker’s past and I have consumed other Batman media that talks about what makes The Joker tick and with this movie pretty much all of that is scrapped. They keep the core aspects of what makes The Joker so fascinating while making a completely original backstory.
Just like with Venom the hero is nowhere to be seen but unlike Venom it’s a proper standalone movie and it takes full advantage of it’s darker tone. They don’t beat around the bush that Arthur Fleck is a mentally disturbed man. He has a disorder that makes him laugh uncontrollably, he’s a loser that is picked on by every living soul he encounters and he aspires to be a comedian but is constantly downtrodden by the dingy world he lives in.
I was kind of worried that they might mess up this transformation, but I couldn’t be more wrong. Arthur’s descent into madness was handled very well as you can completely get behind how he views the world. Not that it makes his actions excusable. It’s like watching a documentary of a real life killer, a character study. Something that some of these film festival critics seemed to have missed when they say Joker is inspiring future homicidal maniacs.
The transformation of The Joker was handled very well and most of the credit goes to Joaquin Phoenix’s masterful performance. I know Heath Ledger was really good as The Joker, but while watching I was thinking maybe Phoenix is a bit better. (Second controversial opinion of the day. Ow, I’m on fire!) Like Ledger, Joaquin Phoenix really made the character his own and I think gave an equally worthy, perhaps Oscar winning, performance. I guess just like Heath Ledger he blows every other character out of the water, except this time there is no croaky masked weirdo to share the spotlight with.
The other highlights include just how close to real life it is, not having Batman around and the directing of Todd Phillips. The cinematography wasn’t too bad either. I was surprised to learn Joker was bumped up a rating because of the violence but, after seeing it, it’s pretty tame compared to Logan or Deadpool. Not that I have a problem with the violence as I think it’s used perfectly. I think it’s darker themes earns it’s higher rating.
This movie is as good as I thought it would be, despite it being slightly flawed. As I said earlier, The Joker is so good that none of the other actors really stand out which is an issue I think The Dark Knight handled much better. Sometimes it felt a little forced in showing Arthur as a worthless person. Lastly the movie felt like it had two quasi-antagonists, Robert De Niro’s character and Bruce Wayne’s dad who is shown a lot more unsympathetically in this version. These characters are both equally important in Arthur’s life and I don’t think it worked very well.
This was an exceptional movie, something that I thought in the over-saturated world of superhero movies, could not exist. If this turns out as successful as Deadpool than maybe we will get more standalone origin movies like this. I had a great time and, here’s a shocker, a 9/10 for a superhero movie. If you have considered seeing it then I recommend giving it a bash.
October is going to be a busy month for me as I’m currently working on all those Halloween reviews while also keeping up with any new releases. So stay tuned and until then I have been The Blog Complainer, signing out.