Joker Film Review
Jettisoning all but the bare essentials of the comic origin story of the Joker, director Todd Phillips and lead actor Joaquin Phoenix have created a dark, unpredictable character study that may have one foot in the comic book genre, but owes a lot more to real life.
Mentally unstable, abused and failing comedian, Arthur Fleck, inadvertently starts a riot on Gotham’s streets, when, he finally fights back after years of torment, and a new personality emerges from his fragile psyche. The study of Fleck’s descent, or the Joker’s rise is complex and integrated; years in the development, but only embracing the chaos when ‘celebrity’ is thrust upon him. This nuanced, misery laden, empathetic portrayal is brought to tremendous life by Joaquin Phoenix, in a study that is astonishing, and one that has never been attempted in a ‘comic book’ movie.
The film sits in a unique position of being able to both appease fan and newcomers alike
Its influences are worn proudly on its sleeve, with the being both born and created from a broken society as much as a broken mind. This stamp of reality, void as it is of the usual comic book trappings (it really could have done without the whole Batman origin segue) and with a heavy dose of reality, means the film sits in a unique position of being able to both appease fan and newcomers alike, whilst also alienating the same due to its hard hitting nature.
Joker is not your typical origin story, neither is it a comic book interpretation; it is new, bold and completely enthralling.
Joker 4K Video
Joker was shot digitally using a combination of Arri Alexa 65, Arri Alexa LF, and Arri Alexa Mini cameras with a resolutions between 3.4 to 5.1K and was finished as a 4K DI which has been used for this Ultra HD Blu-ray release. The disc presents a native 3840 x 2160p resolution image in the widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and uses 10-bit video depth, a Wide Colour Gamut (WCG), High Dynamic Range using Dolby Vision, and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec. We reviewed the Region free UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Joker on a Panasonic 65DX902B Ultra HD 4K TV with a Panasonic DMP-UB400 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
A stunning image
The native 4K picture is stunning, even though it exists digitally, the filmic quality of the piece is extraordinary. Detail is stunning, from skin texture (fading grease paint) to clothing weaves (wear on trousers), from the grime of the streets (graffiti, rats, rubbish sacks) to the pristine nature of the bathrooms in the cinema. Everything is crisp and delightful.
The colour palette is deliberately subdued, drab almost, though it is shot through with the odd moment of vibrancy; clown’s red nose and green mask hair, aforementioned graffiti, that lift the image. There is a real sense of 3D pop to the visuals. The back level is tremendous, giving depth to the frame and punch to the image.
Digitally there are no compression issues and the original source is pristine; a stunning image.
Joker 4K Audio
The English Dolby Atmos track provides a decent sense of immersion and utilises all the channels to represent a very naturalistic and realistic environment. The beating on the train for example, has the track and train noise surround you, as if you are there, while the dialogue and action assaults you, and when the shots ring out it is like a cannon going off – shocking, sudden and explosive.
A terrific track
The score gets a good deal of the surround environment, while the bass is rich, deep and tight. Dialogue remains clear throughout, with priority to the front, though there is directionality when needed. In all, a terrific track.
Joker 4K Extras
There are only a few short extras, which is a little disappointing given the fact that more insight into the production and, in particular, Phoenix's performance would have been great.
A few short extras
Becoming Joker – 1 minute music feature showing Joaquin Phoenix transforming into the Joker.
Joker: Vision and Fury – 22 minute feature with plenty of interviews with cast and crew looking at the making of the film, the new direction and dedication from everyone involved.
Please Welcome …. Joker! – Kind of deleted scenes, 3 minutes of multiple takes showing varying performances.
Joker: A Chronical of Chaos – Image gallery with composer Hildur Guðnadóttir’s music as accompaniment.
Joker 4K Verdict
Joker 4K Blu-ray Review
Joker is not your typical origin story, neither is it a comic book interpretation; it is new, bold and completely enthralling. Its influences are worn proudly on its sleeve, director Todd Phillips and lead actor Joaquin Phoenix have created a character that is born from a broken society as much as a broken mind, and the result is all sorts of awesome.
Joker is not your typical origin story, neither is it a comic book interpretation; it is new, bold and completely enthralling
As a 4K UDH Blu-ray, the set from Warner is pretty good; the native 4K image is absolutely stunning in its detail, colour representation and black level, while the English Dolby Atmos surround track engages and immerses being realistic and naturalistic. The only let down are the slightly lack-lustre extras.
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