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MOVIE REVIEW

Joker

also known as “Coringa,” “Džoker,” “Guasón,” “Jokeri,” “Jokker,” «Джокер», «Жокера»
MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Crime Psychological-Thriller Drama Adaptation
Length:
2 hr. 1 min.
Year of Release:
2019
USA Release:
October 4, 2019 (wide—4,374 theaters)
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company
Relevant Issues

Loss of hope

DEPRESSION—Are there biblical examples of depression and how to deal with it? Answer

What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer


Degeneration of comic-book inspired movies—descending into terrible darkness and evil horrors depicting realistic graphic bloody violence

Learn about LIGHT versus DARKNESS

Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company

Nihilism / a destructive spirit of anarchic animus

Evil homicidal maniac / psychopath / brutal murderer

Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company

Why does the Left produce so many movies that seem to attempt to justify evil behavior as being the reasonable outcome of a bad childhood, bullying, poverty, and a corrupt culture, etc.?

Movies with phony and dangerous philosophies

Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company

In one scene Arthur Fleck says, “I have nothing but bad thoughts.” That is what the Bible clearly says has happened to mankind due to sin. At the end of the roughly 2-thousand year timespan between the paradise of Adam and the time of Noah, we read this chilling report in Scripture…

“The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil” (Genesis 6:5 NLT). —Learn more about the fall of mankind to worldwide depravity

What is SIN AND WICKEDNESS?


Sinful treatment of kids breeds more sin—sometimes generation upon generation

Possible life-long effects of abuse in childhood

What is LOVE, for a follower of Christ? Answer

Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company

Mental illness / mental health issues

The dangers of being removed from medications for mental illness that are genuinely helping

The unwise act of Randall giving the unstable, mentally ill Arthur a gun

Issue of pain and suffering

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

ORIGIN OF BAD THINGS—Why are they in our world if a good God created us? Answer

Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer

POVERTY—What does the Bible say about the poor? Answer

About the POOR in the Bible

Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company
Featuring: Joaquin PhoenixArthur Fleck / Joker
Robert De NiroMurray Franklin, talk show host
Zazie BeetzSophie Dumond
Jolie ChanStreet Worker
Marc MaronTed Marco
Frances ConroyPenny Fleck
Shea WhighamDetective Burke
Mary Kate MalatMurray Franklin Intern
Bryan Callen
Brett CullenThomas Wayne
Brian Tyree HenryArkham State Hospital Clerk
Bill CampDetective Garrity
Douglas HodgeAlfred Pennyworth
See all »
Director: Todd Phillips—“The Hangover” films 1-3, “Old School,” “War Dogs
Producer: DC Comics
Creative Wealth Media Finance [Canada]
See all »
Distributor: Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures. Trademark logo.
Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company

This Joker is far darker, far more disturbing and Nihilistic

Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company

Arthur Fleck is one of those people that tries incredibly hard to make the best out of a really bad situation. Take his job for example. With no real education, and dependent on his aging mother for support, Arthur spends his days working as a traveling clown in many different capacities—whether it’s dancing around in his clown costume holding up a sign to advertise a business or perhaps clowning around [ha ha] at a children’s hospital. You might ask yourself, why Arthur chose this particular profession?

Well, you see, Arthur has always had the gift of laughter, and also a problem with UNCONTROLLABLE laughter. As it turns out, Arthur laughs at various times (some which are inappropriate) which are out of his control, due to a neurological impairment, for reasons that remain a mystery. This makes many social situations incredibly difficult for Arthur, while also making him the laughingstock (pun intended) of Gotham. Poor Arthur, all he wants to do is make people laugh.

But an event on a subway, in which Arthur takes a brutal beating for taking a stand for a woman who was being harassed, flips a switch in Arthur’s brain. “I’m not going to be the victim anymore,” says Arthur. “I’m not going to be the one laughed at… I’m the one who will DO the laughing.” And sure enough, the victim becomes the attacker, and Arthur begins his life of brutal crimes.

“Joker” is a story that begs to ask the question: What happens when the lonely and downtrodden have had enough? What are the consequences of berating and belittling those some consider “beneath them.”

Ever since the character, Joker, first appeared in Batman Comics Issue #1 in 1940, the Joker’s origins and upbringing have always remained a mystery, to both fans and to the occasional Batman enthusiast such as myself. What was and still does not remain a mystery, however, is Joker’s personality. From the very beginning and throughout the history of the comics themselves to the feature films we witness today, Joker has been described as a narcissistic, albeit dangerous sociopath, with an insatiable desire to commit crimes using chemicals and tricks. Joker has also been described as a character adept at studying others and modifying or adapting his personality to achieve his intended outcome.

Why bring all this to your attention? Because this movie embodies and emboldens the “Joker” character in every possible manner, but in the worst ways. “Joker” is unlike any film I’ve ever encountered, and that’s not a compliment. “Joker” takes Bob Kane’s iconic villain, flips him on his head, and then insults his memory by making us watch the character Arthur slowly and painfully descend into sheer madness, until there’s nothing left but rage, violence, and hate for the world. As one reviewer stated,

A NIHILISTIC CRIMINAL

…having no purpose other than following his depraved desire to destroy

Nihilism is “a doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth and especially of moral truths” and believes that conditions in society “are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility.”

“…the movie lionizes and glamorizes Arthur even as it shakes its head, faux-sorrowfully, over his violent behavior. …Arthur is a mess, but we’re also supposed to think he’s kind of great—a misunderstood savant.” —Ulrich, Slant magazine (2019)

Now you might ask yourself, “Well Alex, Joker is a twisted character right? He pretty much embodies darkness, so isn’t the character going to display this on screen?” To some degree, but this film takes Bob Kane’s Joker so far out of context that this isn’t the Joker of the comic books who just attacked people with some of his tricks or carried on conversations with his quick one-liners. This Joker is far darker, far more disturbing, far more disturbed than anything I would have imagined. So much so, that to write about some of the things that this Joker says would not only be inappropriate for me to write about as a reviewer, but also indecent to speak of as a human being.

To add insult to injury, we have an exasperating amount of graphic violence (including a disturbing head smashing scene) that only further strengthens the film’s message that madness and revolt are eminent when you ignore those in need for so long. In an age when it seems that serious acts of violence across America and around the world (mass shootings and the like) are becoming more and more prevalent, we don’t need a film like “Joker” to reinforce or encourage such dangerous behaviors and events. As Richard Trenholm, from CNet, states, “Joker” is a…

“…violent, visceral experience… several cringy attempts to be edgy, like a song by convicted pedophile Gary Glitter on the soundtrack… No one’s laughing in this bleak Batman spin-off… Seriously, everyone in this movie is miserable. …Arthur is disturbed and violent… everybody else is cynical, mistrusting and cruel…”

To be fair to the film, Joaquin Phoenix, who reportedly, unnecessarily lost 50 pounds for the role, is a very accomplished actor. He takes his role as Arthur Fleck with grace and precision. And yes, even the supporting actors, such as Robert DeNiro’s brief appearance, are relatively strong. However, Phoenix GOES TOO FAR. The film goes too far. My mouth was literally dropping… to the end.

Objectionable Material

* Please be aware that this section deals with descriptions of graphic violence. Reader discretion is advised. *

Violence: Extreme— A character is shot point blank in the forehead on live television. T wo adults are shot and killed in front of their child. A character stabs someone with scissors, repeatedly and graphically, in the chest and then the neck and face, and then repeatedly bashes the victim’s head hard into the wall (there is blood everywhere, including the attacker’s face). A character smothers an elderly person to death. Arthur shoots two people on a subway train. He disembarks and shoots a third victim, point blank, three times, while the victim is trying to escape. Arthur grabs a man by the throat. We see Arthur brutally beaten and bruised in an alleyway and also in another scene. We hear about how a character was adopted and beaten as a child by a mother’s boyfriend, and that the mother just stood there and watched. Someone confesses to killing people and finding enjoyment in killing them and that it is comedic to them. A character is hit by a car. A police car is rammed, and the policeman killed (we see his corpse). Violent protestors and cops fight. We watch as fires, numerous lootings and massive civil unrest occur across Gotham while vehicles and buildings are destroyed. We see some bloody footsteps (a murder is implied) as a character tries to leave a mental institution. Various fights. Rioting. Guns. Etc.

Vulgarity: f-words (25+)—1 written, 4 bleeped • obscene hand gestures (3) • b*llsh*t (2) • other s-words (6) • pr*cks (1) • p*ss (1) • a**hole (2) • a** (2), b*tch (1). Other crude or harsh language includes a joke about Jews, jokes about little people (poor taste), “freak,” a drunk driver joke, characters telling a person he’s worthless.

Sexual Content: Discussions occur about role playing in the bedroom. Sex jokes. Arthur is seen making out with another character. Adult theater marquee. An outdoor sign says “strip search.” A man is seen urinating in a toilet (not graphic). Arthur rudely kisses a stage guest on the mouth.

Nudity: Arthur has a collection of nude magazines, and we catch a glimpse of nude women as he flips through (we also more on the corner newsstand). Arthur bathes his mother (we see her breasts partially from the front). Arthur is often seen shirtless and in his underwear.

Drugs: Arthur is seen smoking cigarettes many times. He also takes medications that affect his mood.

Other unpleasant content and possible triggers: • A character tries to freeze to death (?) by closing himself inside a refrigerator. • The song “When You’re Smiling” plays as a character looks at people wearing killer clown masks and newspapers showing their images. • People in masks hold signs saying “Wayne = Facist” and “Kill the Rich” • At least one is inspired to actually murder a wealthy couple • News reports about rat infestations. • Arthur is incredibly and unhealthily skinny. • We see bruises on Arthur’s back. • He has an unhealthy attachment to his mother. He smells her sheets when she is absent. • Arthur is seen stalking a woman. • He brings a gun to a children’s hospital. • Young mother with bruises from domestic violence • Report of a child having been violently abused by his mother and her boyfriend • A woman heads to a hospital, and we hear she had a stroke.

Message of the Film

It seems that as more and more films have been produced, many have been focused on the idea that if a character’s upbringing is deprived or if they received a life that’s less than perfect (whether they were abused, mistreated, neglected, etc.) then that gives them the justification to act in wickedly depraved ways.

This is the exact message “Joker” seems to drive across, and it’s very dangerous. Destructive and morally repugnant behavior, like Joker’s, should not be justified, no matter the cause. As an educator myself, I firmly believe that how someone is raised does play a large factor in who they become and who they aspire to be, but it is not the ONLY factor, and it certainly does not justify extremely evil behavior.

If we choose the Lord, instead of turning to more darkness, if we come to Him, He can change our direction, no matter where we came from. Our past does not have to define our future. You are not worthless in the Lord’s eyes, even if the world says you are. I urge you, those who are lost, those who feel doomed to wander the Earth in darkness, to turn to the Lightseek the Lord Jesus. The Creator of the universe came among us and died on the cross for our sins, so that we did not have to live and die in sin. Come to the Lord and ask for His forgiveness. He will draw you near to Him, if you come to Him humbly, confessing your sins in true repentance. As Scripture tell us:

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” —John 3:16-17 NLT

“At one time you were dead because of your sins. You followed the sinful ways of the world and obeyed the leader of the power of darkness. He is the devil who is now working in the people who do not obey God. But God had so much loving-kindness. He loved us with such a great love. Even when we were dead because of our sins, He made us alive by what Christ did for us. You have been saved from the punishment of sin by His loving-favor. God raised us up from death when He raised up Christ Jesus. He has given us a place with Christ in the heavens. He did this to show us through all the time to come the great riches of His loving-favor. He has shown us His kindness through Christ Jesus.” —Ephesians 2:1-2, 4-7 NLV

“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” —Colossians 1:13 NASB

So, if you feel lost and forgotten, know that the Lord has not forgotten. Even a person like Arthur can come to know a far better way and rise out of the darkness of this world:

“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.’” —John 8:12 NASB

In dark times, the Apostle Paul reminds us to focus on our bright future in Christ,

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. —Romans 8:18 NKJV

Paradise or Pain? Why is the world the way it is?Why is the world the way it is? Some people ask, if God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, why did He create a world like this—filled with oppression, cruelty, suffering, and death? —Answer

Learn about spiritual LIGHT versus spiritual DARKNESS

Concluding Thoughts

I have never seen so much fear, so much hopelessness stem from one movie than I did with “Joker.” I, also, have never seen so much fear from the public over a film’s release, due to the level of darkness that would be present—some theaters banned attendees from wearing costumes, some had heightened security or plain-clothed police on opening night, and some, like Aurora, Colorado, just banned the film altogether.

I wholeheartedly recommend that all moviegoers avoid “Joker” at all costs. It’s not a film for Christians, for adults, teens and especially not for children. Thankfully, some theaters are finally posting specific warnings about not taking the kids! Listen to them, if not me.

And finally…

“…brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” —Philippians 4:8 NIV

  • Violence: Extreme
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Very Heavy
  • Profane language: Moderately Heavy— • J*sus (1) • For G*d’s sakes (1) • Oh my G*d (1)
  • Sex-related: Moderately Heavy
  • Nudity: Moderately Heavy
  • Occult: None
Editor’s Note (Oct. 6, 2019): This dark film made a huge pile of money on opening weekend, exceeding “Justice League,” “Logan,” and “Venom”—and proving again that the worldly are becoming increasingly new-spectacle-oriented in what they rush to pay to view, without care for moral discernment or awareness of what it may do to their mental health or the insidious effects of evil on themselves and others. This was reportedly the biggest ever opening box office take for a film starring either Joaquin Phoenix (an Atheist Leftist) or Robert De Niro (Agnostic Leftist). Both are outspoken activists, now made even more wealthy and influential.

I can only hope that some viewers realize that, consciously or not, this film vividly displays the horrible end results of not only indifferent self-centeredness, but of the unending promotion of moral relativism that is systematically undermining common sense about what is true and right. Those who reject the reality of God and the Gospel are busily destroying institutions and traditions that used to support important things that people truly need in life—devotion to God, friendship, real love and compassion, self-sacrifice, and community—and an always present fear of God’s just judgment on wicked words and actions, whether before death or after.

  • Due to anti-God public “education” systems and mass media institutions, are we now living in a moral Stone Age? Absolutely—learn more
  • Learn about DISCERNMENT—wisdom in making personal entertainment decisions
  • cinema tickets. ©  Alexey Smirnov
    Every time you buy a movie ticket or buy or rent a video you are in effect casting a vote telling Hollywood, “I’ll pay for that. That’s what I want.” Read our article
  • FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I was extremely excited for this movie going in after hearing all the buzz and the previews. Well, let’s start by saying at first the movie really really dragged, so dull I almost left, however about midway I was happy I went. However, I must say the christian part of me was having a fit throughout the movie, due to extremely graphic violence, stabbing, shooting, blood, everything you can imagine. Please heed my warning, DON’T TAKE YOUR KIDS. They may beg, plead, even cry, but it’s far too graphic and extreme for kids under 15. The end even had me cringing. It’s for sure one of the best of the year, but if you think you’re too weak to handle it skip it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Chris Dye, age 30 (USA)
Positive—I can’t believe that people just make statements that they won’t see the film because it is ungodly etc. See the movie because it shows the undeniable truth that evil lies in all of us, just like good. The film portrays mental illness and the society’s indifference towards people that suffer from it. True there is no mention of God but I think that is the result when you rely on people who you love to save you. The point is that people being human will always disappoint. The absence of God and also everything going wrong in his life created the evil being the joker is!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Allan Gracias, age 40 (India)
Positive—To understand evil is not to condone it. To feel compassion and sympathy for a lost soul who ultimately finds no hope in his world apart from killing and causing pain, is not to validate or to accept the lost soul’s worldview.

This world is truly a hopeless, loveless place for so many who have not had a personal encounter with God. Who are we, as Christians, to say that it is not? It is not fair to say that the film should have shown Arthur encountering a glimmer of hope found in Christ which he ultimately rejected. If only it were that simple to explain away all the hopelessness and despair in the lives of so many non-Christians and Christians alike.

There is a reason God came down to earth to save mankind from its despair and hopelessness. True. But there’s also a reason Jesus sent his disciples into the world to preach the gospel to all nations. People don’t hear until they are told.

And there are so many people today who for so many different reasons are either unable or unwilling to hear the good news of Christ, even in America.

This film presents a fictional story of one such man.

For those who think the film itself glorifies violence, it does not. The film’s character glories in his violent acts, and it is crucial that we, as audience members, take time to understand that distinction. This is a film like “Taxi Driver” or “The King of Comedy,” which trusts in its audience’s ability to pass their own moral judgment on the depraved acts of its protagonist, and not to just blindly accept Arthur as both the protagonist and the hero, or to see his actions as morally acceptable, simply because he is the main character and we are allowed a glimpse into his soul. This film asks more of its audience than a typical comic book movie. And kids are frankly unable to handle such a film. It is less challenging than say, “A Clockwork Orange,” or “Silence of the Lambs,” but much more so than the “Dark Knight,” wherein Heath Ledger’s edgy, sexy, violently intriguing, and totally depraved Joker was a supporting character and not the film’s protagonist. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Danny, age 40 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I did not enjoy the movie; I was expecting to see some action and some redemption. I only saw hate, selfishness but no redemption, no meaning to life. It was sad, depressing and non-inspiring.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
Julio, age 48 (Canada)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.

Comments from non-viewers
Negative—I have not seen “Joker,” nor do I plan to at this point. While most of the bad stuff is portrayed in a negative light, there is no Godly positivity to balance against the darkness. This movie sounds like a morally bad movie or video game that says “There is only darkness, so do what you want.” From what I have heard, the Joker’s actions do lead to the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents, paving the way for Batman to emerge and fight evil, but it’s only hinted at, and there’s no Batman or Commissioner Gordon to take a stand against evil.

The only remotely positive thing I can think about with “Joker” is that it does send a message that our words matter and actions do have consequences, so treat others the way we would like to be treated.

Joaquin Phoenix is an atheist who needs to repent and turn to Jesus, he does not need my money. If any of the cast and crew who worked on “Joker” are reading my comment, please repent and turn to Jesus. My refusal to see this movie is done out of love for you and the love of Christ.
Peter, age 29
Secular Movie Critics
“Joker” wants to be a movie about the emptiness of our culture. Instead, it’s a prime example of it…
Stephanie Zacharek, Time
…“Joker” packs more than a few liberal messages between Phoenix’s bravura work, from its class warfare rants to suggesting the government do more to protect the mentally ill. The film never comes close to hectoring, though, keeping the dramatic elements foremost in mind. …Yes, “Joker” brings the violence we expect from an R-rated genre film. The moments are brief but unrelenting, constructed atop character and narrative demands. One particular sequence, which lasts all of three seconds, will haunt audiences for days, weeks even. …It’s the best movie of 2019 and proof the Hollywood system can still make movies that knock our socks off. …
Christian Toto, Hollywood in Toto
…This is a Nietzschean modern hell scape of nihilism, codependency, suicidality, and outright resentment against wealth, power and influence. As such, it is a bottom-dwelling murder fantasy against the existing system. …
Stefan Molyneux, Freedomain Radio
…once you acclimate to its claustrophobic portraiture, it becomes clear that Phillips has little in store for us but one miniature Phoenix freak-out after another…
A.A. Dowd, AV Club
…A part of me found Todd Phillips’s radical rethinking of the Batman villain Joker thrillingly uncompromising and hair-raisingly timely. Another thinks it should be locked in a strongbox then dropped in the ocean and never released. …
Robbie Collin, The Telegraph [UK]
…at no point do we get any real disapproval of his [Joker’s] actions…yes, some of the people he kills are bad people… Violence is a liberating quality for the character: even though the film doesn’t actively condone his actions, it doesn’t condemn them either. …
Richard Gray, The Reel Bits
…What a gloriously daring and explosive film “Joker” is. It’s a tale that’s almost as twisted as the man at its centre, bulging with ideas and pitching towards anarchy. …[5/5]
Xan Brooks, The Guardian
…“Joker” is a movie that thinks it has a lot to say and fancies itself The Social Commentary Of Our Time, but in reality it’s a mishmash of Hot Button Social Issues without anything interesting to say at all. …
Mike Ryan, Uproxx
…if you buy into “Joker,” the joke’s on you… in the long run it really is. …The storyline in and of itself is not a total miss. But once the movie starts lifting shots from “A Clockwork Orange”…you know its priorities are less in entertainment than in generating self-importance. As social commentary, “Joker” is pernicious garbage. … [2]
Glenn Kenny, RogerEbert.com
…“Joker” thinks it’s saying something, but acts more like a class clown… The star’s unselfconscious and unrestrained inhabitation of Fleck’s brain and body is every bit as over-the-top, garish, and abrasive as everything else about the film. …
Sarah Kurchak, Consequence of Sound
…The film is one that might have been dreamed up by one of the cynical douche bros from “The Hangover” during a blacked-out stupor. …It’s as head-smashingly graphic as Tim Miller’s “Deadpool,” and about as soul-numbing. …[1½/4]
Keith Uhlich, Slant
…Go ahead and crack open the movie. It’s hollow to the core. …
Alissa Wilkinson, Vox