Wow what a movie. One of the best movies I have seen in a longtime. Full of questions and shocking moments as well as controversy and violence, this movie flips the genre what it is to be a comic book film on its head and then kicks it in the groin fifty times. Let me just start off by saying, this is a 5/5 star movie, a 10/10 star film, and despite its current 68% on Rotten Tomatoes and its 58% on Metacritic fans around the world are in love with the film. Even giving it a 90% audience rate on Rotten Tomatoes.
To start off saying, Joaquin Phoenix‘s portrayal as the mad clown was captivating. Managing to take me out of my seat and feel every emotion that a human being can within their life just through his mere screen presence. Yet one thing stuck out to me after leaving the theater last night, you can no longer compare Jokers. This Joker is so radically different and so formulaic that he is the black sheep compared to every other portrayal of the Joker. Although Heath Ledger‘s Joker is one of the greatest to ever touch the silver screen, it still followed a somewhat loose formula for what/who the Joker is. This Joker was not one who intentionally started the calamities within Gotham, but reveled in the fact that he did. This was not a Joker who took his anger out on the world because he wanted to make a statement, but had to because it was the only way his mind could justify his actions.
The film puts a big emphasis on mental illness, and you have probably read some news articles about how it glorifies mental illnesses, when in fact it does the opposite. It points out the fact that mental illness is a thing and everyone is just one majorly bad day from cracking. It points out that you never know why someone are the way they are and you shouldn’t just be a terrible person to them because you find them weird or crazy, and to not be a terrible person in general because you don’t know what they are going through. It seemed as if the movie had many meanings within it, and this was definitely one that stuck out.
Another meaning/purpose for this movie seemed to be Todd Phillips‘ (the director) goal to rewrite the purpose of a comic book movie. He provides the main character with no real goal and no real “antagonist”, and I put antagonist in quotes because he is the antagonist in a way, and still provides the audience with an intense drama that challenges everything we know about comic book movies this day and age. Like them or not, you cannot deny that Marvel films follow a certain parameter, I have this saying that describes how Marvel creates their films, “same formula different numbers”, and no matter what it works for them. Where as this film takes the DC formula and Marvel formula, puts them together and then takes a giant dump on them. It challenges you to think and embraces the most important phrase of movie making… “Show Don’t Tell”. It shows you and then leaves you to think about what you just witnessed, it doesn’t provide you with a eight minutes of exposition, it shows you exactly what is happening, it shows you what had happened, and it makes you curious as to what will happen. The film causes your jaw to drop and whisper the phrase “what the heck” on a constant basis, with realer than life performances from every star within the film.
I hope to write another article on this version of the Joker, to perhaps delve deep into what makes it sit within its own category, but I would have to see the film a couple more times in order to do that. And one major problem with doing that, and the largest problem with the film in general is the fact that it is not a re-watchable film, this is one of those one and done films that makes you uncomfortable from the start and burns itself into your mind by the end. Although, despite it being a “one and done” movie, I still strongly encourage you to go see it. The film brings something new to the table in a world that is now being plagued by formulas and repetitiveness when it comes to movies. I will also note, this is in fact no way a family friendly film, so do not bring your children. But please go see it. It is an experience in and of itself.