Review: Joker is a game changer for comic book movies

With Todd Phillips helming Joker, I had reservations due to his work in comedies like The Hangover, Old School and Road Trip. But with Warner Bros. giving the okay for an R-rated DC film that stars Joaquin Phoenix as the Clown Prince of Crime, it can’t be that bad, right? Thankfully, Phillips delivers with Joker, a gem of a movie, and it’s definitely a game changer for comic book films.

Phoenix stars as Arthur Fleck, a clown who aspires to be a comedian. His life is pretty rough, whether it’s getting constant abuse from strangers or living in a crappy apartment while taking care of his sick mother. To make matters worse, he has pseudobulbar affect, a condition where he can’t control his laughter, and that creates a lot of awkward and tense moments.

Phillips took a different approach for Joker by making it a character study and showing his transformation as realistic as possible. It’s is a very intimate film, and it’s a slow burn that strictly focuses on Arther Fleck. This is a far cry from the big spectacles usually seen in the typical comic book films. The film is dark and funny, and the R-rating helps push the boundaries where you’re sometimes left with your jaws dropping.

Phoenix is the star, there’s no doubt about that, and his performance is haunting and despairing. As the film picks up, things get more extreme, and we felt very on edge. Phoenix executes his scenes with ease, as we get an understanding of his transformation from an unlucky man to a larger-than-life villain.

The film is heavily inspired by comics including The Killing Joke, and even though we get to see how Arther becomes the Joker, there is still some mystery behind his origin. It’s also set in Gotham, and there will be recognizable characters and things, so this should make fans very happy.

Joker is wild, crazy, and intense, and I was left speechless by the end of the film. Joaquin Phoenix delivers a spine-chilling performance. Todd Phillips has done to the Joker what Christopher Nolan has done to Batman by crafting an origin story that feels very real. Warner Bros. and DC have something very special here, and let’s hope they continue that magic with future films.

Score: 5/5 Atoms

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