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#CrunchTest Movie Review - JOKER: It Will Leave You With Anything Else But Laughter

Updated: Oct 14, 2019

We are going to be straightforward with you - If you are a fan of action-packed superhero (or anti-superhero) films, this movie is not for you.


Going against all the rules for a superhero film, the director, Todd Phillips dives into the origin story of how Joker became one of the most iconic villains of all time, especially in the DC universe.


The film follows Arthur Fleck, a struggling clown-by-hire with a neurological disorder where he laughs uncontrollably at inappropriate times, as he tries to make a living in the city of Gotham.


“Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?”

With the domino effect of how he spirals into a tragic failure in which he loses his job, being continuously mocked by members of the society for his odd quirks, losing his dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian, and having the reality he has built about his childhood shattered, Arthur finally turns to the life of crime and chaos as he finally feel accepted and noticed.


The 2-hour film goes through a consistent character development that Joaquin Phoenix so beautifully and irreplaceably portrays, this film will leave you with a haunting melancholy feeling - as you find yourself empathising with a supervillain, and bringing a jolt to your reality of the loneliness of society’s underdogs.


Let's see what our Movie Buffs have to say overall:


4/5


Here's what they have to say:



1. Compared to the recent DC Comics movies, what did you think of the JOKER & did it live up to your expectations?

If there was a preference poll for DC Comics vs Marvel, the latter will win hands down and I feel no different. Given the somewhat letdown for Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad among others, I entered the theatre with minimal expectations for JOKER. And boy, was it a pure two hours of an emotional roller coaster as we followed the life of the tragic Arthur Fleck in the ghetto city of Gotham.


2. What & how do you think Joaquin’s performance faired against Heath Ledger’s performance as Joker?

The award-winning Joaquin Phoenix had HUGE shoes to fill as Heath Ledger undoubtedly left his mark in the world as the best Joker And he killed it. I could feel every tinge of his emotions throughout the movie- positivism at first, rejection, loneliness, depression, anger, and pride- Joaquin have beautifully portrayed all these emotions and have kept me engaged throughout the 122 minutes - yet did not bore me despite being in almost every shot in the movie. Joaquin successfully portrayed what the people loved about Joker yet managed to make this 2019 Joker his own. Another thing I really enjoyed about Joaquin's performance is his elegance - this shined towards the end of the movie, where he dances to calm himself down and how his confidence rose tremendously followed by his new persona, and of course, the legendary Joker outfit. Which, in my opinion, is the sleekest outfit thus far.


3. What do you think of the character development of Joker in this film? Did you think it ties together with his persona?

To add on to my earlier points on how Joaquin's performance have kept viewers like me engaged, they did a fantastic job in zooming in (literally) into his life, and brought us through every low point of his life which is mainly getting bullied for his rare condition on top of being a clown. I'm convinced that the director, Todd Phillips wanted us to sympathize with Joker and feel for him, and for that I applaud him because I really did feel sorry for him, and I somewhat understood the reason for his actions (even though I don't condone it). However, I would have enjoyed it much more if the movie provided a little more glimpses into his childhood and how he cope with his condition and trauma since young, it would have made the character development a little richer but fantastic character development nevertheless.


4. What do you think of a Superhero movie (or in this case the Villian), having a film that is based more on storytelling instead of relying on action and special effects?

I am never the biggest fan of Michael Bay-like movies, to begin with, because what I personally look for in a movie is content and substance. Aquaman was a letdown for me because of its disengaged story-line with DC trying to imitate Marvel by injecting humour into their movies. JOKER, on the other hand stayed true to its origins by not completely giving us the typical DC-darkness (eg. dark colour themes, serious music etc) but instead brought us through a the charming era of 1980's with the upbeat music and popular television programme, yet placing the depressed and lonely Arthur in the center of it all. And that is a different type of 'dark' which DC successfully introduced with this movie, quite figuratively.


5. From a scale of 1-5, how would you rate the movie?

I would give it a 3.5/5 and my salute to Joaquin for his commitment and elegance as the Joker!


1. Compared to the recent DC Comics movies, what did you think of the JOKER & did it live up to your expectations?

Joker’s complete separation from the main DC films’ continuity is a welcome breath of fresh air in a cinematic era dominated by mega film franchises (e.g. Marvel) that are stringent on the interconnectedness of every superhero film they churn out. In fact, Joker even breathes life into its own comic book stable – with DC undergoing a massive reshuffle as they try to softly reboot half their characters (personally I loved the original vision of DC, spearheaded by Zack Snyder!), Joker’s unshackled nature has gifted us filmgoers a delightfully dark, engaging and poignant character study of one of fiction’s most iconic villain.


2. What & how do you think Joaquin’s performance faired against Heath Ledger’s performance as Joker?

This one is hard. Phoenix’s Joker doesn’t become the fully-fledge maniac we all know and love until the last 20 minutes of the film. But when Phoenix does finally transform into the Clown Prince of Crime, there’s somewhat an eerie resemblance to Ledger’s Joker – a dose of flamboyance and apathy amidst the utter chaos. Ledger and Phoenix have somehow come to the same conclusion about the Joker character but with different paths; Ledger does it by exposing the false dichotomy between himself and Batman while Phoenix engages in a gruesome self-reflection perverted by his surrounding circumstances. In this sense, it really isn’t fair to compare the two.


3. What do you think of the character development of Joker in this film? Did you think it ties together with his persona?

While I was pumped for this film beforehand, I was initially iffy about the notion of giving rhyme and reason to a man whose every action is predicated on the absence of any rhyme or reason to begin with. The fact that the Batman villain’s true origin has never been revealed (the comics portray several unverified accounts that serve to mask the birth of Clown Prince of Crime) is a large part of Joker’s appeal to me. However, that also makes the legendary character a perfect blank canvas for anyone talented and willing enough to peel the psychopathic layers underlying his violent disposition to see where it takes them. Director and co-writer Todd Phillips seemed up for the challenge, however, as he crafts a great attempt at dissecting the emotional and psychological minutiae behind what one bad day can do to someone who has nothing left to lose.


4. What do you think of a Superhero movie (or in this case the Villian), having a film that is based more on storytelling instead of relying on action and special effects?

We definitely need to see more films like this cropping up. Studios need to understand that superhero films nowadays are slowly becoming formulaic CGI-laden fests and this has started to turn people off from going to watch every single superhero film in theatres. Comic book storylines have regularly featured such profound narrative depth and bold characterisation, so why can’t the films mirror this aspect too?


5. On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate the movie?

Out of 5, I’d give a 4. The ending dragged just a tad too long and the side characters don’t get to shine as much here. But overall, it’s a masterpiece worth watching for Phoenix’s mesmerizing performance alone.


1. Compared to the recent DC Comics movies, what did you think of the JOKER & did it live up to your expectations?

Joker is a phenomenal addition to the DC Cinematic Universe (DCEU) and provides a much-needed cleanser palette for an increasingly crowded genre. Written and directed by the same guy that directed “the Hangover”, this movie exceeded my expectations on every level.

From its impressive visual style and vibe harkening back to Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, the movie hits you on all cylinders through its gripping narrative, tight script and powerful leading performance from its lead actor, Joaquin Phoenix.


The best part of all is that it establishes Comic Book Movies as something that can be taken seriously instead of the usual fluff produced by Marvel. A dark movie which deals with the harrowing descent of a man pushed to the brink of insanity.


THIS MOVIE DESERVES AN OSCAR LOVE!


2. What & how do you think Joaquin’s performance faired against Heath Ledger’s performance as Joker?

Ledger’s performance will always be remembered by moviegoers as an agent of pure chaos. An antithesis to batman’s beliefs and persona, he was already a fully developed Joker by the time he appeared in 2008’s “the Dark Knight”.


However, praise must be sung to Joaquin’s portrayal of Gotham’s clown prince of crime. Essentially a proto-joker, he charts the character’s transformation from weakling individual member of society into the dangerously charming psychopathic killer we all come to know and love. The acting is top notch and at times disturbing given how Joaquin underwent a body transformation to play the frail Arthur Fleck.


When it comes to live-action Jokers, I personally state out loud that Joaquin’s version is my personal favourite!


3. What do you think of the character development of Joker in this film? Did you think it ties together with his persona?

The movie does an excellent job at building character bricks to show the audience how Joker came to be. From his white facepaint clown attire to the iconic laughter (Smart and Unique take on it I say!), it ties in well with his persona.


4. What do you think of a Superhero movie (or in this case the Villain), having a film that is based more on storytelling instead of relying on action and special effects?

There needs to be more films like Joker around. It proves that superhero flicks can be more than the standard CGI slug fest we’ve seen churned out by Marvel Studios machine for over a decade. A thoughtful and engrossing study of insanity and mental illness, it perfectly blends crime and drama in a superhero setting, while managing to keep everything realistic and gritty .I would take this flick over Avengers Endgame any time of the day.


5. From a scale of 1-5, how would you rate the movie?

A 5 out of 5 batarangs!

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