After walking out of Joker I felt incredibly indifferent. Joaquin was great and the story was well told but, what was the point? It only matters if this Joker returns in the DCEU.
If you follow me on twitter you likely saw that I wasn’t very excited about the Joker movie. I didn’t plan to even watch a trailer but caught one ahead of another movie. Even after seeing the trailer the movie felt pointless and I wasn’t moved to see it. It didn’t feel like it was connected to anything and thus didn’t feel important.
Rave reviews out of the festivals still weren’t enough to truly convince me I had to go to theaters for this movie. It was the ravings of the general audiences that finally pushed me over the edge. No pun intended.
After sitting through the 2 hour duration of Joker I feel justified in my initial thoughts about its existence. I didn’t really learn anything new about the character and there wasn’t really anything incredible about the way the story is told. The Joker is a well known character and was the centerpiece of a movie that has made it to the Final round of my greatest movie of all time tournament. At best, Joaquin’s performance helps clear the slate and prove that it is still possible to make an interesting Joker post Heath Ledger without dramatically altering the character *cough* Suicide Squad *cough*
I barely want to say more but I will.
I do not like gratuitous (uncalled for, lacking good reason, unwarranted) violence in movies and in Joker I knew I was going to get that. Now, you may say it’s necessary to make sure we understand how dark the character is but I could get that without the brain matter. I could get that without the extended head bashing in the apartment murder. Interestingly, it feels like Todd Phillips could have made these scenes worse had he chosen to. He does seem to give Joker some sort of moral compass, though he seems to lose that by the time we reach the closing scene.
What is the takeaway?
While the masses screaming that the movie shouldn’t be released because of its content inspiring a potential mass shooting, those people should watch more news. There are more mass shootings in this country than days in the year so I don’t think those people need much more inspiration.
Joker definitely has all of the symptoms of a mass murder. A personality/condition that isolates him from others, problems with his mother, a life that is falling apart around him. He’s beaten and picked on throughout the first and second acts. Even after his first act of violence, though he sees himself differently, others still treat him the same. Eventually, as he himself says, he has nothing left to lose and that’s when he truly becomes The Joker.
Some, including Zazie Beetz who plays a neighbor of Arthur Fleck, talked about how the movie seems to want to make us somewhat sympathetic toward the character. Though she says we should be sympathetic toward the idea of isolation and not the character himself.
Should you see it?
I’m not in the business of telling people what they should or shouldn’t see. I try to let people know if they will enjoy it based on their own tastes. With Joker I have let my own feelings drive this review and I do apologize for that.
What I will say is that if you are interested in the Joker’s origins, if you don’t mind some graphic violence, and you don’t care about the larger extended DC Universe it’s a great movie. I am the opposite of all three and that is why Joker didn’t do anything for me. For the record, I haven’t seen Venom either because I didn’t feel that it connected to anything Spider-Man is doing and the reviews weren’t great. I like connection in my comic book movies now and I won’t be getting that here.
That last line may be the key to why I feel like I do about Joker while the masses continue to heap the movie with praise.