6.5/10. Different but good. Joker might not live up to our expectations, but it does well to stand out amongst a long line of cliché superhero movies and shows another fine performance for Joaquin Phoenix.
Coming into this film, and off the back of what we’ve already seen about this character, one can easily think this would be another film showing the wild and energetic chaos from one of the most iconic villains in comic book history.
Alas, this isn’t the case, which might disappoint most (including us) but doesn’t mean it isn’t good.
Joker is a gritty and extremely depressing film that purposefully chooses to show us the slow and dark descent of a poor man fighting not only his psychotic condition but also the rest of society which feels like an extension of such condition. It’s a film that is methodical, brooding and more of a character study rather than a gigantic action/heist type of film.
This is Taxi Driver meets The Dark Knight.
And because its such a character study, it’s a perfect avenue to highlight the great talents of its lead actor Joaquin Phoenix who is our favourite male actor. While it’s completely different take compared to the iconic Heath Ledger performance, one that doesn’t manage to top the later actor’s Oscar-winning role, it could very well be up their with the 2nd best Joker we’ve seen and far better than the last outing we saw (cough, Jared Leto, cough).
One of the most surprising elements of this film is how beautiful the cinematography is. Every scene looks extremely cinematic and the colour grading goes a long way in this regard. The navy blue colour palette is contrasted well with bright colours that manage to illuminate the background from time to time and ever so lightly, that it almost feels like it is symbolising how the character somehow manages to see the happiness around him in a world that looks so desperately bleak.
Our only real gripe (apart from a few questionable musical transitions) is with the story.
As we said, there’s nothing wrong with the choice to make a film more about how a character becomes who they are (Taxi Driver is fantastic at this) but in this case, the descent into madness doesn’t feel captivating. The plot feels too predictable as things continue to go from one bad thing to another which inevitably comes to an easy to guess boiling point (even if it is still satisfying).
In between all that, nothing surprising or exciting occurs.
Perhaps this has got to do with our expectations of seeing more action and chaos for what we know the character for but in our opinion, there could have been many scenes cut that would have made the slow descent at least feel less slow.
Having said our grievances, this is still a fine film and director Todd Phillips has managed to elevate himself from his previous associations (The Hangover, Due Date) to create something different. Something that is bold and takes risks in its efforts to go against the current wave of typical superhero films. And for the most part, we’d say those risks have paid off.
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