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Movie review

Noah Peaslee

October 22, 2019

I was skeptical when walking into the new Joker movie. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was excited; the trailers were good, other critics were praising the performances to no end, and I personally have always been fascinated with this mysterious character. However, I felt that it might get lost trying to get its social commentaries and themes across without delivering a plot with substance. 

Well, I’m happy to say that director Todd Phillips has managed to handle the dark subject matter and the messages it’s trying to get across seamlessly. On top of that, the eerie score, outstanding production design, and Joaquin Phoenix’s performance help t create one of the best movies of the year.

Joker is a 2019 American psychological thriller released by Warner Bros. Pictures and is based on characters from DC Comics. It is heavily influenced by Martin Scorsese-directed films, and contains many homages to Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy

Joaquin Phoenix star as Arthur Fleck, a wannabe comedian and a poor citizen of Gotham City who has a medical condition that causes him to laugh hysterically at inappropriate times. After a series of negatives in a short span of time, Arthur slowly goes mad and turns into the Clown Prince of Crime, more commonly known as Joker. The movie also stars Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Bill Camp, Shea Whigham, and Marc Maron.

Although the ensemble give great performances, no one tops Phoenix’s chilling take as the titular villain. He brings so much to the table, so many small details: such as the way Arthur walks, the way he laughs, and his mannerisms. They’re very subtle, and it’s not until after you’ve watched the film all of the way through that you realize why this character acts like he does.

Other aspects of the film that are keen to detail are the production design and costume/makeup design. The production designer made the color-palette look bleak, and Gotham City look crime and pollution-ridden. In the meantime, the costumes impeccably reflect the characters and the 1980s setting. The Joker’s costume and makeup choices are notably well done; as the film progresses, and he becomes more confident, the Joker’s attire changes with him to bolder and brighter colors.

However, the icing on the already near-perfect cake is the melancholy original score. It shows how the Joker is feeling. As the Joker becomes consumed with anger and pursues his own justice, the music grows louder and more complicated.

Although the loudness of the score does reflect the Joker’s feelings, it does become a little too loud around the half-way point. This is a problem with the sound mixing in general. Sometimes, the loudness of a sound effects or music is so great that it makes the dialogue almost inaudible.

But, most people won’t notice or care about the temporary sound mixing issue, and it’ll be completely forgotten because the presentation is so strong.

Overall, Joker is an Oscar-worthy masterpiece that will most likely change comic book-based cinema forever. It has amazing performances, production design, costume/makeup design, sound editing, directing, and screenwriting. It’s also unpredictable which makes it ten times better than most other superhero movies made today.

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