Joker film review: A work of art, but like most works of art, it’s not for everyone.


The above poster is for the Joker film. The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist.

Joker Film Review|The first R-rated film in the Batman franchise is finally out in Philippine theaters today. Read on our spoiler-free review to find out more about the movie.

A fresh, emotional, and darker take

Introduced in the film as Arthur Fleck, a struggling clown-by-day and stand-up-comedian by night, award winning actor Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator, Her) embodies Batman’s longest rival and archnemesis, The Joker. Preparing for the role, Phoenix lost a lot of weight and looked incredibly gaunt. An incredible transformation to look more of the impoverished and mentally-ill character.

The Joker character was never an easy role to play. Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, and most recently Jared Leto could attest to that. Phoenix, however, redefines the Joker standard once again and delivers yet another Oscar-worthy performance. The first two acts of the film alone would give anyone some serious emotional punch which gives its viewers a stronger sense of empathy on one of the most misunderstood characters in comic book history.

Prepare yourselves for some horror and thrilling aspect as the dark psychological nature of the film will play with your mind. That scene in the crappy elevator would get your hair raising knowing full well what the Joker is capable of doing.

Oh, and when you watch this film, try to keep yourself from rooting for the Joker. That’s how incredible Phoenix’ characterization of the role is.

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The same and different

Director Todd Phillips, best known for writing and directing comedies including The Hangover trilogy and Borat, brings us a fresh and a much darker take on the DC villain not relying on any one comic book as a resource. And that may just be a slight turnoff for some of the comic book fans.

Familiar characters like a much younger Bruce Wayne and his parents are present in the movie, too. Also, the film is set in the fictional Gotham City, but in a time when the wealth gap in the city is apparent and causing a distaste and eventual uprising among the deprived.

Another character, Murray Franklin, played by one of Hollywood’s all-time great, Robert de Niro, was also introduced in the film and has never appeared in the comic books and is instead a homage to his character from The King of Comedy (1983). Boy, we hated de Niro’s character on this film a little and that’s a compliment on how he successfully personified his role.

So, yeah, to confuse you even more, the Joker character in this film is the same Joker that Batman is fighting against but it’s not the same Joker in the DC Extended Universe currently played by Jared Leto.

Got it? Don’t worry. Neither did we.


The violence in this film is evident which is why the film is rated R-16 in the Philippines. It also caused quite a controversy in the US, with all the reports of gun violence in the country in recent years. Some are calling out the film for its depiction of violence citing that it may result into more gun-related violence in the US. Some theaters have even refused to screen the film for similar reason.

It also caused a stir when it was announced that a Joker stand-alone film is in the makes with Jared Leto who played Joker on Suicide Squad (2016) expressing his distaste of the move.

Nevertheless, “Joker” may have just set up DC Black in the right direction.

A work of Art

In an industry where comic book adaptation is sort of standardized by Marvel, this fresh but darker take on the DC comic book villain has more than managed to set itself apart. Leaning on superb cinematography, thrilling musical score, great acting, and incredible story-telling, Joker has set a new standard for comic book film adaptations.

Indeed, Joker is a work of art, but like most work of arts, it’s not for everyone.

Skip or Watch?

Joker is a must-watch for film buffs, but you may opt to skip if you are not into all the good stuff we mentioned above.

Joker is showing in Philippine theaters starting October 3, 2019. You may view the film’s trailer here.

Let us know what you think of the movie by commenting below or by giving the film your own rating.

Our Rating

As a side note, the Joker (2019) movie is not a spin-off or extension of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), where Jared Leto currently plays the Joker character and is instead intended to launch DC Black, a series of DC-based stand-alone films.

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