Send in the clowns: the first reviews for Joker are calling it an ‘absolutely masterful piece of cinema’.
Directed by Todd Phillips, the man behind The Hangover trilogy and War Dogs, Joker is currently Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, with a rating of 86%.
It had its premiere today at the Venice Film Festival; while the initial social reactions were positive, the reviews are gushing with praise, with many commending Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker performance as a ‘terror-inducing’ Clown Prince of Crime.
Check out the latest trailer below:
Variety’s Owen Gleiberman wrote: ‘Phoenix is astonishing as a mentally ill geek who becomes the killer-clown Joker in Todd Phillips’ neo-Taxi Driver knockout.’
Empire’s editor-in-chief Terri White wrote:
Bold, devastating and utterly beautiful, Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix have not just reimagined one of the most iconic villains in cinema history, but reimagined the comic book movie itself.
Discussing Film say the film ‘is an absolute triumph… that left the Venice Film Festival audience stunned and in thunderous applause once the film had finished.’
Film critic Brandon Davis wrote on ComicBook:
There has never been a movie like this in the genre… a thrilling, haunting character study which happens to become a mysterious origin story for the best known villain in comic book history.
The Daily Beast’s Marlow Stern says Phoenix has ‘earned his rightful place alongside Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson in the pantheon of all-time-great Jokers.’
David Ehrlich wrote on IndieWire:
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.
Jim Vejvoda from IGN said Phoenix’s performance is ‘Oscar-worthy’.
Joker looks to be a ‘twisted, disturbing’ odyssey through the origin of the iconic Batman foe – it’s been rated R in the US for ‘strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language, and brief sexual images’.
Check out the first trailer below:
The official synopsis for Joker is:
Joker centers around the iconic arch-nemesis and is an original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen.
The exploration of Arthur Fleck (Phoenix), a man disregarded by society, is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.
The movie is a key component of Warner Bros’ revamped DC Black initiative: they’re ditching the MCU-esque focus on a larger narrative and concentrating on making solid, individual films.
The film’s trailers hint at it being a very different beast from typical comicbook fare: for example, there are clear nods to Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Phillips said:
The movies that I grew up loving, these character studies from the 70s, you couldn’t get those movies made in this climate. I said to myself, ‘What if you did a movie in that vein, but made it about [comic book] characters?’
Following Jack Nicholson’s wild performance in Tim Burton’s Batman and Heath Ledger’s Academy Award-winning turn in The Dark Knight – for my money, the greatest performance the world has ever seen – the role of the Joker has a certain prestige attached to it.
The Venice Film Festival’s artistic director Alberto Barbera told Variety: ‘It’s the most surprising film we’ve got this year… this one’s going straight to the Oscars, even though it’s gritty, dark, violent. It has amazing ambition and scope.’
Put on a happy face: Joker hits cinemas on October 4.
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.