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'Joker': Spoiler-Free Movie Review

Updated on October 8, 2019
Dean Howard profile image

Dean is a new online writer. He usually writes movie and music reviews.

'Joker' is directed by Todd Phillips and stars Joaquin Pheonix as Arthur Fleck. The story focuses on Arthur who is a clown for hire while he pursues a career as a stand-up comedian. During his everyday life, Arthur is tormented and abused by the civilians of Gotham. Everything about his life begins to take a toll on him psychologically and he takes the form of the Joker.

My skepticism about this movie was through the roof. I love everything that Pheonix touches, but Phillips as the writer and director I was not on board with. I was excited about the stand-alone Joker movie way back when Leonardo Dicaprio was in talks for the role. I just didn't know what to think about Phillips writing and directing a Joker movie without Batman.

I will jump right in and say this movie is PERFECT. It deserves to be seen in theaters. Even though it is about a superhero villain, this movie is far from the superhero genre. It takes more of a slow burn, psychological thriller route and gives a performance of a lifetime from Pheonix. So, let's talk about it.

Character of Joker

When I told my brother that I had watched 'Joker', the first question he asked was, "How is it compared to Heath Ledger?" The thing that is hard to answer about that question is that this movie is it's own thing so it is hard to compare the to takes on the character. This is the first time where we get 2 hours to get to know Joker and what makes him tick. Whereas Ledger's Joker was more of a mystery. We were intrigued because we didn't get that origin story. They both deliver so much that you cannot simply compare the two. Pheonix portrays the beginnings of Joker, while Ledger portrayed Joker in his prime. The opinion on who is better is up to you!

Pheonix transformed into the character of Arthur Fleck, who transformed into the Joker. I loved the slow fall from reality for the character. I was not expecting to see half of the stuff that the movie gave us. They explored everything about the Joker and showed us why we should care.

You really care for Arthur in the first act. You see that he is a good guy with a mental illness, so you don't want him to go down this inevitable path. They do a really good job of giving us a character that we care about even though he is doing bad things.

I know Pheonix has some competition this year at the Oscars, but he truly deserves a statue for his performance here. He is incredible. You don't want to take your eyes off the screen.


Phillips killed all the concerns I had about him within the first 5 minutes of the movie. His previous films may have been raunchy comedies, but he hits a new mark with 'Joker'.

He creates a unique story about the Joker without shying too far away from the source material. He creates Arthur as a down-on-his-luck kind of guy while also being a total creep. He creates the character to walk a fine line between sympathetic and serial killer.

I loved that he made this portrayal of the Joker his own thing and exploring the more psychological story behind this character. Instead of telling the story from Batman's perspective, this film is told from Joker's. So we get to see the world as Joker sees it and because he is mentally unstable, the storytelling is unstable. This makes for some interesting twists and turns in the film.

I have high hopes for Phillips from now on and I hope he does more films like this one. He has an eye for making some beautiful moments and knows how to trick the audience.

Violence Controversy

I wanted to take a minute and talk about the controversy surrounding this film. I have not read too much into it because people create a reason to gripe about everything anymore. However, this movie is a hard R-rating. There is going to be violence in the runtime. If you don't like it, then do not go see the movie. Please, do not take your kids to see it either. There was a whole row of pre-teens in front of me during 'It: Chapter 2' with their parents. That is what will screw your kids up. This movie is made for adults so creating drama over the "violence" in the movie is needless.

This film is perfect. Go watch it and do not buy into the controversy surrounding the film. I give it 3 months before it loses steam.

'Joker': Movie Trailer

Final Thoughts:

All I have to say is go watch this film. I watched it twice in one weekend. I can honestly say this is the first film in which I have ever gone back the next day for a second viewing. This is the best movie of the year, and the best movie I have seen in a long time!

It will have you second-guessing everything after the credits roll. It is a smart movie, with great acting, gorgeous cinematography. and excellent directing. I cannot give this film enough praise!

5 stars for 'JOKER'

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