Jan 032020

Joker is one of the more unique experiences I’ve had, and perhaps helping is that I am a fan of DC characters, and while this may not be a comic accurate portrayal, the performance by Joaquin Phoenix was nothing short than incredible.




Genre(s): Drama, Crime, Thriller
Warner Bros. | N=R – 122 min. – $44.95 | January 7, 2020

Date Published: 01/03/2020 | Author: The Movieman

Directed by: Todd Phillips
Writer(s): Todd Phillips & Scott Silver (written by)
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy

Features: Featurettes
Slip Cover: Yes
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: 4K, Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 2

Audio: (4K/BD) English (Dolby Atmos), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video (4K): 2160p/Widescreen 1.85
Video (BD): 2160p/Widescreen 1.85
Dynamic Range: HDR10, Dolby Vision
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codecs: HEVC / H.265 (4K), MPEG-4 AVC (BD)
Region(s): A, B, C

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.

Note: The screen captures were taken from the Blu-ray disc and do not represent the 4K Ultra HD transfer.

THE MOVIE — 4.75/5

Plot Synopsis: Forever alone in a crowd, failed comedian Arthur Fleck (JOAQUIN PHOENIX) seeks connection as he walks the streets of Gotham City. Arthur wears two masks — the one he paints for his day job as a clown, and the guise he projects in a futile attempt to feel like he’s part of the world around him. Isolated, bullied and disregarded by society, Fleck begins a slow descent into madness as he transforms into the criminal mastermind known as the Joker.

Review: There are very few villains that have embedded into the public conscious perhaps because clowns are, generally creep af, but one with no conscious and a complete psychopath is fascinating, not to mention the temptation from some actors to play the role is too hard to resist. The acting hierarchy for the role ranges, though it would seem to be extremely difficult to top the performance done by the late Heath Ledger, whom received an Academy Award post-humorously. Well, Joaquin Phoenix certainly put his mark on the role.

Joker was a movie, when it was first announced, was a bit perplexing to some. Myself, I was intrigued although DC was still in a re-construction stage with focus-based movies versus some shared-universe apparatus. As it turns out, this mid-budget crime-thriller (costing somewhere around $60 million) captured the public interest once again and despite the media’s hyping of some incel attacks, before moving onto guilt-tripping with the film using the song by a convicted pedophile (supposedly getting six figures in royalties; though LA Times confirms others own the rights), this movie went on to cross the billion dollar mark, an achievement that only Aquaman accomplished for Warner/DC.

Having skipped this in theaters, I did my best to avoid spoilers, which was difficult for anyone who even spends little time on Twitter, so going in I wasn’t sure what to expect however in the end, I found Joker to be one hell of a ride, not a smooth or pleasant ride, but still a trip down a dark, gritty road. First and foremost, Joaquin Phoenix does turn in a transformational performance as Arthur Fleck, later called Joker, fleshing out a previously darkly mysterious character and giving him a tragic background, an aspect some fans probably didn’t appreciate. But I felt it didn’t hurt the interpretations that came before, or those who will come later (can’t think Matt Reeves won’t use the character down the road in his Batman trilogy).

Back to Phoenix, his Joker his a combination of creepy and tragic and puts a spotlight on not only the state of mental illness, society’s inability to help those suffering, but the whole nature versus nurture with Fleck’s relationship and childhood growing up with his mother, portrayed in later years by the wonderful Frances Conroy. After one viewing, I can’t say who gave a more standout performance, Phoenix or Ledger, but both were tremendous, giving different aspects to the character, even if Phoenix’s, as I’ve read, might not be the *real* Joker (whatever).

Another perplexing part of Joker when it was announced was that it was going to be directed by Todd Phillips, a filmmaker mostly known for The Hangover trilogy (as well as other goofball comedies like Starsky & Hutch and Old School), but he did show growth with the crime-drama War Dogs and really his direction here was impressive, of course aided with Phoenix screen-grabbing performance, yet still had some beautiful shots, courtesy of his longtime cinematographer, Lawrence Sher (and is set to work on DC’s Black Adam feature).

I’d be remiss to not mention the composer, Hildur Guðnadóttir originally from Iceland. It’s an imposing score, somewhat reminiscent of fellow Icelandic Jóhann Jóhannsson’s work on Sicario (not surprisingly, Guðnadóttir scored its sequel, Sicariou: Day of the Soldado), using a heavy, imposing bass that, especially during the character’s full transformation, was particularly heavy.

I’m a little hesitant to call Joker a masterpiece, not because it isn’t great but I do like to give a film time before heaping that sort of praise (kind of like a movie having some future cult status), but this was one hell of a movie not only shot with gritty finesse by Todd Phillips proving once more that he’s not a one-trick comedic filmmaker, but the performance by Joaquin Phoenix was absolutely metamorphic and deserving of a Best Actor nomination if not also outright win, not to mention deserves to sit right beside Heath Ledger’s legendary turn.



This release comes with a sleek matted slip cover. Inside is a code for the Digital HD copy.

Unfortunately for a movie that made as much as it did, this isn’t exactly jam-packed, but there are a few featurettes:

Becoming Joker (1:25) — This is the test footage compilation with Phoenix.

Joker: Vision & Fury (22:25) — Behind-the-scenes featurette with comments by Todd Phillips, Joaquin Phoenix, Producer Bradley Cooper and others on the approach to telling the story about the Joker, visual effects breakdown turning NYC into Gotham circa 1981, costumes and more.

Please Welcome… Joker! (2:44) — Short featurette showing some of the different entrances for Joker on Murray Franklin’s show.

Joker: A Chronicle of Chaos (3:04) is a photo gallery set against Guðnadóttir’s haunting score.


4K UHD VIDEO – 5.0/5, BD VIDEO – 4.75/5

Joker unleashes chaos onto 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray presented in its original 1.85 widescreen aspect ratio (nice to see Warner no longer opening matting) and not at all surprising, this does look glorious in the 2160p high-definition resolution, while the Blu-ray’s 1080p transfer also looks quite good in its own right. Being more specific, the 4K has amazingly sharp detail throughout and while this is certainly a gritty and very serious film in its tone, interestingly enough it wasn’t depressingly dark and there were some minor flares of color with minimal aid by the HDR (Dolby Vision is also available for those with the appropriate equipment) while black levels are impressively deep which only makes some of the coloring, especially on Arthur’s clown makeup, starkly stands out.

AUDIO – 5.0/5

Both the 4K UHD and Blu-ray discs come accompanied with a strong Dolby Atmos track which one might think would be overkill for a drama like this, but there are some exceptional moments where this really shines. One of them is Hildur Guðnadóttir soulful yet also uneasy score which reverberated throughout the room, while the center channel outputs clear dialogue and front and rear speakers excellently showcased the ambient noises, most notably the riot sequences which at times put the viewer squarely in the middle of the madness.


OVERALL – 4.5/5

Joker is one of the more unique experiences I’ve had, and perhaps helping is that I am a fan of DC characters, and while this may not be a comic accurate portrayal, the performance by Joaquin Phoenix was nothing short than incredible and deserving of the awards coming his way.

This 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray combo pack offers up amazing video and audio transfers and even though the features could’ve been better (would’ve like to see the full array of alternate takes), it’s still a fine release, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the studio doesn’t release some sort of special edition down the line considering its surprise box office success.




The screen captures came from the Blu-ray copy and are here to add visuals to the review and do not represent the 4K video.

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