Todd Phillips and Scott Silver
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix
Budget $55-70M Box Office $1.067Billion
IMDb 8.7/10 Rotten Tomatoes 69% Fandango 88% Metacritic 59/100
So, right up front I am going to tell you some things that don’t seem to be very popular in this day and age.
First and foremost, I have always felt VERY strongly that, in Hollywood, there is, was and always will be only one of each of the following:
One Superman: Christopher Reeve
One Batman: Michael Keaton
And ONE Joker: Jack Nicholson
I have felt this way since I was a small child, growing up watching the movies of these incredible men doing unthinkable things. So the idea of ANYONE else playing The Joker is almost offensive to my sensibilities.
Next, I am not a Heath Ledger fan. Yes, I realize the young man has passed on and that his death was a heart wrenching tragedy. But, his death has absolutely nothing to do with his acting ability. Yes, I saw him in A Knight’s Tale and it was a pretty good movie. I wasn’t big on the love story aspect but hey, I know they have to throw that in there, I mean hello??? The story involves knights, there has to be a fair maiden with whom he falls in love. Not having the love story in that movie would have been like making that movie without horses. But, I’m getting sidetracked. I admit I refused to see Ledger’s performance of the Joker. Having seen this film, I feel it will be necessary at this point in order to accurately compare all of the Joker performances I’ve seen. But, at the time, I had no interest in seeing Ledger play Joker.
Joaquin Phoenix on the other hand, he has a natural creep factor on screen that is just cosmically mesmerizing. I mean, even in Gladiator he was a creepy, wretched little man who wanted to sleep with his sister and rule the kingdom. No, not incredibly narcissistic , delusional or oedipal at all. Not at all. So, we’ve see that, even without the Joker makeup, Phoenix can portray quite a shady and suspicious creature.
One thing to keep in mind is that this particular Joker movie is an origin story. This is where we learn how and why the Joker became the cold, heartless villain that he is.
Now, because this film was only release about two and a half months ago, I’m going to avoid spoiling anything for you. So, here are my thoughts on the film, WITHOUT giving you the whole film summary. I think saying it’s an origin story is pretty clear enough
I actually really liked this film. I found myself truly empathizing with Joker as the movie went on. It is also an excellent example of how people with ANY sort of mental illness, big or small, are treated like some kind of pariah. As is mental illness is contagious. It truly left the film surrounded in a deep darkness, a loneliness and a feeling of despair. There’s not a whole lot of comedy in this film although there is some, it’s required seeing how it’s a movie about the Joker. But, think about this…we (the audience) have known for a long time that Joker has some serious issues, that he’s not playing with a full deck of trick cards, that he’s not really there mentally or emotionally like the average human being. But in this film, we find out why.
And Joaquin Phoenix…wow! I have to admit, as far as the new generations of Jokers go, Phoenix is the one that really has it down. He feels who the Joker really is. And he played the creepiness to the hilt. I mean, perfectly. It was truly an amazing performance.
I also like that Phoenix was the lead in this film. I think he is very talented and sometimes gets overlooked when he’s playing the support roles. But he really put it all out there for this film and it really came together in such a fantastic way that, once it was over, I wanted to watch it again. I used to really be a Batman fan. Michael Keaton was a hero when I was a kid. But after watching this origin film, I really feel like I have switched over to the “dark side” and become a Joker fan. He’s a very complex character. Batman really isn’t. But, the Joker, he’s got layers…like an onion.
So, if you get a chance to watch this, it is an absolute must. It’s a different kind of Superhero/Villain movie. Not a lot of action, very up close and personal on Joker and some things slid in there to make you think…if you catch them. So, enjoy the birth of this villain, because he’s like no other before or since him.