In the realm of diverse movie fandoms and their perpetual rivalry towards supremacy, Todd Phillips’ Joker has come as a boon for all DC fans. DC, as the world knows it, is known for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. A cerebral blockbuster unlike other, the movie is surprisingly popular for its villain, the terrific act of Heath Ledger as the clown which forever changed the superhero genre.
Even though a decade has passed, the character remains one of the favorites among all comic-book characters, and this movie honors its legacy. Joker is undoubtedly the best DC film since The Dark Knight. It is disconnected to the shared universe (DCEU) for good reasons, and its cultural impact will remain high.
By all regards, this is a director’s film that refrains from becoming an outright comic-book movie. The story is grounded with realism and is purely original. Todd Phillips and Scott Silver only took little inspirations from the Joker comics and developed a wholly new story, which is absolutely fantastic.
Joker Is a Profoundly Stimulating Cinematic Experience
Filmed in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, every frame is breathtakingly beautiful. The color palette precisely captures the gloom of Gotham City. And on an IMAX screen, the experience swells to an altogether different level. You get drawn quickly into the distinctive-looking Gotham City, far away from Nolan’s glossy version.
The whole scenario feels far more relevant to our time. The story emphasizes a collapsing economy, rising unemployment, open crime, and perpetually increasing uncivilized behavior. Amidst this rage is one clown-for-hire, Arthur (Joaquin Phoenix).
Opposite to how his job demands him to make everyone around him happy, Arthur’s life is full of misery, disregard, and pain. He suffers from a neurological disorder, which causes him to laugh inappropriately and unceasingly, often giving rise to a lot of trouble.
The story is centered on his life’s transformative phase, where he is compelled to confront his darkest side, ultimately becoming the clown the world would fear.
Extraordinary Performance Stiffened by a Haunting Score
Joaquin had insanely big shoes to fill. And his performance is mesmerizing. As Arthur, he thoroughly lives the character. His journey from a loner to a psychopath is terrifying. And yet, he somehow manages to make Arthur sympathizable, making you root for him, despite the heinous crimes he commits.
It’s an outstanding work, and Joaquin ably carries the film on his shoulders. It is spellbinding to see his face, mainly his eyes, reflecting the malevolence building inside him. And it is damn impossible to imagine any other actor play the part.
The comparisons between his version and of Late Heath Ledger is inevitable. Though I assert both the versions are distinct from each other and will be equally recognized as the character’s best iterations.
The soundtrack, furthermore, elevates the film. It’s minimal but greatly harrowing. There are many scenes where Joaquin’s physical performance perfectly blends with the score. And it sends twice the shivers down your spine. The movie is rightfully R-rated and mustn’t be seen by minors, for it can be highly misinterpreted.
Transforms the Genre But Isn’t Bereft of Flaws
Todd Philipps and Scott Silver deserve credit for devising a grounded foundation for Joker. It is one of the film’s most significant achievements to have an original story. Arthur feels as much part of our world as he is of Gotham. And considering how over-saturated the genre has become, this unique version of him opens new possibilities.
This is not to say, though, the writers haven’t taken any liberty. The depiction of Gotham residents is starkly unrealistic. Arthur’s morality is shown to be oscillating due to the enraging behavior of the people around him.
A variety of times, he is insulted for no genuine reason. And it bothers you because the film tries to be realistic.
The way unlikely scenarios are used for influencing the characters disappoints you. It even feels cheap, as if the writers ran out of ideas to get where they wanted to.
The ending, also, is a little sanctimonious. After two remarkably ruminating acts, the climax comes too on the nose, edging off the artfulness of what came before. The film also appears to be profoundly inspired by Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. Since Mr. Scorsese was involved in the film’s initial development, it may have come directly influenced, which strips some of Phillips’ own storytelling.
As a standalone film in the DC canyon, Joker is the best film to come out in a long time. It powerfully highlights some of the most critical problems of our era. And doesn’t shy away from showing a densely pessimistic journey of one of pop-culture’s most influential characters.
It is also the best comic-book film of the year, a lot more than Avengers: Endgame, for its cultural impact, is much substantial than that of all Marvel superheroes combined. Watch this one on IMAX or a relatively bigger screen and ensure you don’t take your kids along if you’re a parent.
Rating: 4 / 5