Warner Bros' latest DC film has garnered divisive opinions among fans, crushed it at the box office and has even caused a spike in some very specific NSFW searches. Feelings at CinemaBlend are aligned regarding the outstanding performance of Joaquin Phoenix and the impressive cinematography, but not everyone is buying into the hype. Some aren't sold on the entire story, while others wish the film would have spent some more time exploring bigger issues, such as mental health or the world of Gotham City. One thing we all agree on, though, is that this movie is a huge conversation starter and will definitely be talked about for a long time.
Events Editor Eric Eisenberg wrote the official CinemaBlend review for Joker, admitting that while not for the faint of heart, it's still impressive, stating...
Joker isn’t what anyone would call a “pleasant” movie-going experience, but it most definitely is an enthralling and impressive one. Joaquin Phoenix is fantastic in his transformative performance as DC Comics’ legendary narcissistic psychopath, and the impression his incarnation of the villain leaves is extraordinary given the stellar and memorable performances we’ve seen in the past. It’s an exciting development for the future of comic book films, and hopefully will usher in an exciting era of experimental character studies. (4.5/5)
Vice President of Product Mack Rawden agrees that not everything in the film works, but echoes that the overall sentiment of this film will not soon be forgotten.
Joker is way bolder and way weirder than most superhero movies. It goes long stretches without any action and tries to raise larger questions about mental health, isolation and governmental support systems. Not all of it works. What does, though, is terrific. Phoenix deserves all the praise he's getting. The cinematography is among the best you'll see this year, and I'll be thinking about a handful of scenes for a long time. (4.5/5)
Traffic Analyst Braden Roberts enjoyed the film so much that he plans on seeing it again in theaters, and he's is not alone in thinking this movie is one of the best of 2019.
Dark, bleak and completely self-aware. It's an extremely critical examination of mental health, the American media machine and the system failing those who need it most. Joker going to generate tons of discussion due Arthur Fleck's motivations, and deservedly so. One of the best films I've seen this year. I'll be seeing in theaters again. (4.5/5)
Not everyone is fully sold on the latest DC installment, though. Senior Video Producer Jeff McCobb felt that this particular story almost didn't need to be specifically a DC story.
Clearly there was a lot that Joker did right, but I failed to see any sort of tonal through-line in Todd Phillips' vision or Joaquin Phoenix's performance. The whole thing felt very sporadic, as if the filmmakers threw their hands up and figured the nonsense was all justified by the main character's mental instability. A character that seems to have no potential of ever becoming any incarnation of the Joker we've seen thus far. Which is fine, they're trying something new, but if that's the case... why call him Joker? Why make the story take place in Gotham? Because of this we get a concept that feels more like a YouTube fan film than an in-depth character study. Due to the hype, I'm forced to be more critical, but the cinematography was great and I applaud Phoenix's performance for being so bold, if nothing else. (3/5)
While Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck is clearly struggling with multiple internal and external issues, Senior Movie Contributor Mike Reyes wishes that the chaos of the third act had happened sooner.
Joker isn't as deep of a movie it wishes to be, but that doesn't stop it from having its fair share of moments that work better than others. Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur is a product of his society, and that's about as far as the commentary goes in director Todd Phillips's collage of DC canonical lore and Martin Scorsese influences. Where the film fails as an actual finished product, it works as a conversation starter, as you can very easily start to pick apart the mysteries that you're intended to mull over in the film's narrative. I wish the total anarchy in the third act happened sooner, as it's the best part of the film, and I'd have liked to had seen the film revel in its madness just a little more. (3.5/5)
Again, while most everyone can agree that is a great film on a technical level, not everyone is impressed by the overall story. Shift Editor Adam Holmes also feels that the film is not quite as clever as it wishes to be, claiming...
Joker is amazingly well made on a technical level, from the gloomy cinematography to the haunting score. Joaquin Phoenix delivers a tremendous performance as Arthur Fleck, this unusual take on The Clown Prince of Crime, and other comic book movies should follow in Joker's footsteps in terms of taking unconventional approaches. The problem is that the story leaves a lot to be desired. The movie's dark, yes, but its commentary on mental illness and political upheaval is not nearly as intelligent and compelling as it believes it is. The final product ultimately comes off as more derivative than unique. (3.5/5)
While not everyone was on board for one reason or another, Managing Director Sean O'Connell gave the film a perfect score, believing it stayed true to his expectations.
Joker is an enthralling, disconcerting and unapologetically dour origin story for a man who could become The Joker, played with a sympathetic lunacy by Joaquin Phoenix. What I loved most about Todd Phillips' vision for Joker is his depiction of Gotham City as a total, unsalvageable hell hole. All the denizens of Gotham needed was a few pokes and prods by Arthur Curry to send them over the edge... and give Arthur purpose. I do wish that we could see more of Phoenix's portrayal, now that he's "officially" Joker (or is he?), but I also admire how this movie embraced the notion of being a one-off, and stayed to its dark, deranged commitment. (5/5)
Features Writer Mick Joest advises to reserve judgment until you get all the way through the ending, and believes the film only gets better the more you watch it.
Joker is a movie that you shouldn’t judge until the credits roll, and one of the few I’d consider improves upon another viewing. Joaquin Phoenix makes the role his own with a slow burn performance that transforms throughout the film into a villain I’d love to see again. (4/5)
Joker was littered with scares and controversies from the very beginning, which drew attention from both fans and those against it. Video Producer Alli Ladd notes that there's a lot that sets this film apart, but that those reasons may very well make the film not work for everyone, saying...
Joaquin Phoenix is absolutely brilliant as Arthur Fleck. Only an actor of his caliber could pull off such a complicated and dark role. The fascinating origins of this iconic character paired with the dark, unsettling violence is what really sets this movie apart. The movie isn’t for everyone, but it will definitely bring up a lot of important conversations surrounding mental health. I cannot wait to watch it again and again. 4/5.
A common theme with the Joker character has been mental health, regardless of the different iterations. And while some praise the performances, some still wish Todd Phillip's version had spent more time exploring this concept. Here's what Movies Editor Corey Chichizola had to say...
I thought Joker was an wild ride, but not nearly as intense as what I'd been hearing. Totally buying all the Joaquin hype-- he deserves it on that performance. I thought the larger conversation about Mental Health and the system was an important one to have, and I kind of wish Todd Phillips spent more time on it. Still, killer performances and plenty of twists that kept me engrossed. (4/5)
There's been a lot of hype about how this film would be different from other origin stories or from other Jokers we have seen in the past. But even after viewing, Project Manager Samantha LaBat is still unclear what type of film Joker is claiming to be...
It’s unclear to me what type of film Joker claims to be. As a psychological thriller causing the viewer to question what’s real and what’s not, it’s excellent. But as an origin film for Joker, the character, or a “hero” film, it falls flat. The only things that make it uniquely “Joker” are the costuming, makeup, and setting… remove those elements and you’re left with a story about the rapid decline of a man’s mental health. This is still intriguing and well-told, but the character could be anyone. It’s necessary to view the film more than once for clarity, yet it causes such confusion and discomfort I can’t imagine many would desire or be able to do so. That aside, there is not a second of Phoenix’s performance that is not believable. His portrayal of mental illness is unmistakable; he draws both sympathy and anger in a way that absolutely should be seen and will lead to much needed discussion. (4/5)
Staff Writer and Associate Editor Dirk Libbey enjoyed the film, but doesn't see himself going back to a subsequent viewing anytime soon.
Joker is the first truly "dark and gritty" comic book movie in a way that is as uncomfortable as it is compelling. An utter and complete bleakness permeates the film thanks to solid cinematography and Joaquin Phoenix's performance. The film asks some interesting questions, though it largely avoids making any significant statements in response, falling back on simplistic, surface-level answers. This is not a movie I'll be planning to see again anytime soon, though that's at least in part because it's a movie I won't soon forget. (4/5)
As for my opinion, I was pleasantly surprised with the film and didn't mind the dark road it took the audience down...
While the latest installments from the DC world have leaned more into the comedy genre, Joker goes in the opposite direction and really leans more on being a tragedy. It’s dark, overtly violent only when it needs to be, and aesthetically on its own level compared to other “superhero” movies. (4.5/5)
News Director Jessica Rawden thinks the film works overall, despite the occasional slips.
I can honestly say the mood and imagery that Joker evokes is among the most powerful I've seen in a long time, even with its occasional clunkiness. It's among the best films I've had the pleasure of viewing this year, and pays homage to some of the best in all-time cinema, to boot. What I think I like most is that regardless of your ultimate take on the movie, this is one that should be seen, and talked about incessantly. (4.5/5)
Joker is in theaters now, and continues to spark conversation and controversy with no end in sight. In the meantime, be sure to check out our 2019 release schedule to plan out the rest of your trips to the theater this year.