JOKER (2019) Reviews and overview


‘Put on a happy face’

In case you hadn’t noticed, Joker has now grossed over a billion dollars at the worldwide box office – making it the seventh film to do so this year – and is the highest-earning ‘R’ rated movie ever.

Joker has also become the fourth billion-dollar-grosser from DC following Aquaman ($1.148 billion), The Dark Knight Rises ($1.084 billion) and The Dark Knight ($1.004 billion). It is predicted that it will eventually earn more than the latter two.

Scroll below for our selection of reviews of Joker. We recommend Cody Leach’s more considered, if somewhat lengthy, YouTube review

Joker is a 2019 American crime drama superhero feature film about the origin story of the iconic Batman villain.

Co-produced and directed by Todd Phillips (The Hangover and sequels; Starsky & Hutch; Hated: GG Allin & the Murder Junkies) from a screenplay co-written with Scott Silver, the movie stars Robert De Niro, Joaquin Phoenix and Zazie Beetz.


Joker premiered at the Venice Film Festival and is released globally in most territories on 4 October 2019.


“As the film goes on, it becomes increasingly a horror movie and the violence – although limited to a very few incidents – is portrayed as shockingly real. There are also moments of humour – as you’d expect from the director of The Hangover – but the “funny ha-ha” is definitely mixed in with funny peculiar so it’s impossible to say where one ends and the other begins. What it doesn’t feel like is a comic book movie.” Cinevue

” …Phillips has crafted an intimate, standalone character study that’s extremely influenced by another era of filmmaking. From the way the opening credits play, to the final frames of the movie, Phillips has taken the colorful comic book movie to the dirty, gritty streets of the late 1970s with fantastic results. Trust me, you have never seen a comic book movie like Joker and I’m not sure we will ever get one like this again.” Collider

“As Arthur/Joker, Joaquin Phoenix is astonishing. Phillips has said he had a picture of the actor above his screen when writing the script and it’s a belief that has paid off. Phoenix inhabits Arthur: having lost weight for the role, he looks thin, frail, hungry. Shadows carve out his exposed bones. His physicality is precise — the way he moves, shuffles, runs, sits, smokes, shrinks. His usual intensity is on full display and it’s captivating, even overwhelming in moments.” Empire

“It is gnarly. It is audacious. It doesn’t hold back. It’s subversive, provocative, dark, demented, twisted, and terrifying. Joker will likely end up being one of the most divisive movies of the decade, with some people hating it with a passion, others heralding it as a bold masterpiece […] One thing is for sure – it cannot be dismissed as “trash”. It’s a staggeringly bold, horrifying movie.” First Showing

Joker is a phenomenal film, destined to be pitted against Ledger’s The Dark Knight performance for the title of definitive on-screen portrayal of the character. So fabulous is this version of the Joker, it is hard to imagine the upcoming Batman rebooted franchise offering yet another new version any time soon […] Joker is one of the true masterpieces of the superhero cinema, and one of 2019’s greatest achievements.” Forbes

“What a gloriously daring and explosive film Joker is. It’s a tale that’s almost as twisted as the man at its centre, bulging with ideas and pitching towards anarchy. Having brazenly plundered the films of Scorsese, Phillips fashions stolen ingredients into something new, so that what began as a gleeful cosplay session turns progressively more dangerous – and somehow more relevant, too.” The Guardian

“Built around a credible spiral from lonely outsider to deranged killer, it’s as much a neo-noir psychological character study grounded in urban alienation and styled after Taxi Driver as a rise-of-the-supervillain portrait. It’s arguably the best Batman-adjacent movie since The Dark Knight and Warner should see mighty box office numbers to reflect that. The must-see factor of Phoenix’s riveting performance alone — it’s both unsettling and weirdly affecting — will be significant.” The Hollywood Reporter

“Joker isn’t just an awesome comic book movie, it’s an awesome movie, period. It offers no easy answers to the unsettling questions it raises about a cruel society in decline. Joaquin Phoenix’s fully committed performance and Todd Phillips’ masterful albeit loose reinvention of the DC source material make Joker a film that should leave comic book fans and non-fans alike disturbed and moved in all the right ways.” IGN

“Todd Phillips’ Joker is unquestionably the boldest reinvention of “superhero” cinema since The Dark Knight; a true original that’s sure to be remembered as one of the most transgressive studio blockbusters of the 21st Century. It’s also a toxic rallying cry for self-pitying incels, and a hyper-familiar origin story so indebted to Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy that Martin Scorsese probably deserves an executive producer credit.” IndieWire

“It opens on a classic 1970s Warner Bros logo in a misguided attempt to connect itself to one of cinema’s golden eras – making it appear even worse by comparison. It tries desperately hard to come across as edgy, but coldly refuses to swerve from the hard-painted lanes of templated Hollywood filmmaking. It ends up resembling nothing more than a Suicide Squad spin-off movie.” Little White Lies

“Arthur inspires chaos and anarchy, but the movie makes it look like he’s starting a revolution, where the rich are taken down, the poor get everything they need and deserve and the sad guys who can’t get a date become killer heroes. There’s a sick joke in there somewhere. Unfortunately, it’s on us.” Time

“Joaquin Phoenix is astonishing as a mentally ill geek who becomes the killer-clown Joker in Todd Phillips’ neo-Taxi Driver knockout: the rare comic-book movie that expresses what’s happening in the real world.” Variety

“This standalone film was a brave choice by Warner Bros., and it’s very likely going to pay off. Again, this is a difficult film to watch, and it’s going to take time to process, but ultimately, I think this is going to be a definitive part of Joker canon. I can’t finish without comparing this performance to Heath Ledger’s in The Dark Knight, of course. I believe that both performances are brilliant…” Vital Thrills

” …it’s not really about much of anything at all. It will be tempting for some to declare this the first art film based on a DC or Marvel property, but while it certainly represents a bit of a departure and something of a risk, Joker is ultimately grim-and-gritty comic book nihilism jacked up to the nth degree, wrapped up in a convincing but ultimately hollow simulacra of better, smarter movies.” The Wrap

Cast and characters:

  • Robert De Niro … Murray Franklin
  • Joaquin Phoenix … Arthur Fleck / Joker
  • Zazie Beetz … Sophie Dumond
  • Brian Tyree Henry
  • Shea Whigham
  • Isabella Ferreira … Flirting Women on the Bus
  • Frances Conroy … Penny Fleck
  • Bryan Callen
  • Marc Maron … Ted Marco
  • Brett Cullen … Thomas Wayne
  • Bill Camp
  • Douglas Hodge … Alfred Pennyworth
  • Glenn Fleshler
  • Josh Pais … Hoyt Vaughn
  • Jolie Chan … Street Worker

Technical details:

122 minutes
Sound: SDDS | Dolby Atmos | Datasat | Dolby Digital
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1

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