Sorry for the late post everyone, but here it is, our review on the Joker film. This will be a semi-spoiler free review. I won’t give away the movie, however we will be talking about its source material and inspiration. So, if you haven’t seen Batman: The Killing Joke, then STOP READING now.
First of all: where the hell has Joaquin Phoenix been in our lives? This film put him out there, both physically and mentally. You have humanism, socialism and psychological disorder of the human mind and the down-to-earth struggle of making it in the world and what happens when you’re finally beaten to the ground and decide to snap. That’s what is brought from this film.
The film is based, loosely, on Alan Moore’s adult graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke, which is for many avid comic readers The Joker’s ‘official’ origin and how he came to be what we know him as today. For many, it is considered one of the best Batman graphic novels to be published to date. However, only very few things are taken away from this novel and adapted into Phoenix’s JOKER film. It’s both a downer and an interesting take.
For the film, you have Arthur Fleck (Phoenix), who takes care of his incredibly frail mother while trying to make it as a stand up comedian. Throughout the film we see Fleck’s slow downhill spiral into Phoenix’s interpretation of The Joker. Like others before him, such as Cesar Romero, Mark Hamill (voice acting only), Jack Nicholson; the late Heath Ledger and Jared Leto, Joaquin Phoenix has brought in his fresh take on The Joker now can join this upper echelon of actors.
For many, Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker was perhaps the best of the aforementioned; his work even won him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in the film The Dark Knight, due to his dark and deeply creative take on The Joker. Well, after seeing Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal, I firmly believe that he ranks up, if not parallel, with Ledger.
Throughout the film you just want Phoenix’s character Arthur Fleck to make it; he’s trying to make it in the dark world of Gotham City, but he keeps getting beaten down time after time again. And while Phoenix’s take on the character is indeed dark and twisted, you cant’ help but feel a little sorry. And as the film progresses, Phoenix clearly shows his spiraling down into madness to where we finally get the end result you were wanting throughout most of the film.
My main criticism about the film is that the source material used wasn’t a lot; barely even enough to maintain a stable basis. The director admitted that the film was made as a origin story for The Joker and the film didn’t intend to have any sequel’s for the future. After watching the film, I think that statement was made prematurely due to Phoenix’s tantalizing and provocative acting. He could very well make a great Joker for future Batman films.
And Batman. Where the hell was he? Well, in The Killing Joke, Batman has a pivotal role; however in the film Joker, Batman is nowhere to be seen. In fact, Batman isn’t even a thing yet; you have a young Bruce Wayne, which is only shown for just 10 minutes of screen time. And while Fleck still has a primary role in Wayne’s future according to the film, the entirety of the film is revolved around Arthur Fleck and his downfall. So while I was a little upset that Batman wasn’t in it, after watching the film, I didn’t really care because of how well Phoenix did with his portrayal.
Another aspect I didn’t like was the atmosphere. Yes, we are aware that the story takes place in Gotham. However, if you don’t pay attention to the surroundings, then the story could have very well taken place in New York City. Very little of the Gotham-esque features are portrayed in the film. I had to look at every part of the screen to see if the word ‘Gotham’ was on something. And other than the utilization of the Wayne Family and Arkham Hospital, very little was used to portray Gotham City.
Initially we were all skeptical at hearing Joaquin Phoenix taking on the role as The Joker, and even more so when we saw him in makeup. It certainly wasn’t what we were expecting. But when you watch the film you’ll understand why. And, no, I’m not going to rate who is the best Joker to date. Why? Because every actor who has played as The Joker has put their own spin on the character. Nicholson, Hamill, Ledger, Let0 and Phoenix all have spun their own take on the character. Phoenix just brought something fresh into the mix: showing the character’s human side and what happens when the world finally destroys that last shred of human being within you. You get a realist, psychotic, murdering and apathetic Joker.
JOKER is now playing in theaters everywhere.