Movie Review: Joker (2019)

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Summary: In Gotham City, mentally-troubled comedian Arthur Fleck is disregarded and mistreated by society. He then embarks on a downward spiral of revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his alter-ego: “The Joker”.
So y’all, I have had some weird movie theater experiences and I’m starting to wonder if it’s me… lol. My friend and I saw this movie and towards the end, when Arthur is talking to someone, he starts laughing. I heard laughing but it sounded like it was coming from somewhere else, not the screen. But I ignored it, thinking it was the speakers or something. Then, I hear it again and I realize it’s coming from the guy sitting in the row before us. There was only maybe 20 of us in the theater, an entire row towards the front was taken, there this one guy, me and my friend and then two girls behind us. So, I thought maybe there was a special needs person with someone, and their friend was trying to calm them down or something because they were laughing loudly. I realized this person was by themselves. I tentatively lean back but then I saw smoke start rising from that row. I lean forward again and notice this guy has something in his hands that’s burning, not sure but it might have been a blunt or a cigarette, but I don’t know. So, I looked at my friend and said, “We need to leave,” and I hopped up and went for the door. I was already a little nervous because you never know with movies like this, but everything was fine up until this point. She has a delayed reaction but followed me and we finished the last two minutes at the stairs. The guy was by himself though. When the credits started to roll, we left lol and the two girls from behind us had got up as well when we did lol. We all started laughing and they said they heard the weird laughter and then saw us get up, so they got up to leave too lol. I DON’T KNOW MAN! But super weird. I did inform a worker about the guy, don’t know what happened after but man.
Pros:
Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur. Honestly, he is really the shining light of this movie. He is so good and so disturbing that I do understand the “Oscar buzz” around his performance. His character is sad too. So, Arthur Fleck is a mentally ill, impoverished stand-up comedian, disregarded by society with a history of abuse. He works as a clown in a business that loans out clowns, so he can feel “part of society” and of course “bring smiles to people around him” but life just doesn’t want to work out for him. I get it my dude, I do. He must deal with teenage hooligans stealing his twirling signs, getting beat up by them, his unstable mother, teasing coworkers, a super extra boss and with his uncontrollable laughter, which makes people uncomfortable but it’s also clearly a pain for him. It’s just so much he must deal with that you really feel bad for him. Life is just crapping all over him. He begins to spiral into darkness and he unintentionally started a movement and it just happens without him for a while. Joaquin Phoenix is phenomenal. He does a physical transformation and the way he moves in the movie is very deliberate and interesting and weird a lot of times. I like his dance moves lol. I think he portrays each layer of Arthur very well. The fake happiness he tried to have, the moments of sadness or the moments when it seems like he’s with other people, but he’s just imagined it. This movie is such a character study so it’s so interesting to watch him just exist. It’s uncomfortable in a lot of ways but it’s so good.
  • I think if you go into this movie thinking you’re going to see a familiar Joker you’ve seen in other comic book movies or adaptations, I think you’re going to be disappointed and you’re mistaken. Don’t get me wrong, you can see the connection with mentions of Thomas Wayne (Bruce’s father) and of course it’s in Gotham but don’t go into this movie thinking you’re getting a true or definitive backstory.
Supporting Characters. Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz and Francis Conroy play a large part in Arthur’s life in different ways. They’re very much supporting characters so I did not want to go into each of them like I would with other films, but everyone does a great job in their role. They all play parts in Arthur’s downfall but in different ways. Some less than others.
A Character Study. This movie is very much a character study for Arthur Fleck. I don’t think it’s an “origin story” or any kind of grand film. It has a very small and contained feeling to it and it very much focuses on Arthur and what he goes through, the choices he makes and how it affects him and the people around him. I think it works and is interesting that way because I can’t imagine it working any other way, with this version of Joker.
Great Musical Score. The music is so well utilized in the film. I mean wow. Especially towards the end. It worked in indications of moments where he’s imagining things in his head, or when he’s about to do something crazy, or anything along those lines, it really worked. I was pretty caught up in the score quite a few times throughout the film.
Cons:
Rushed Plot Information. So, a big problem I had with the movie was the information dump we got in the last act of the movie. Arthur learns something from letters his mother wrote Thomas Wayne, they talk, he believes her, even though she clearly is unreliable with her own mental illnesses. He makes some questionable choices that continue to push him further down a path. Then, we find out more stuff about his mother that is just given to us in some quick flashbacks, some information read from files and it’s just a whole lot of unconfirmed and horrible stuff. Not to mention, it just feels like the movie gives it to you but does nothing with it. I didn’t like that we get a section of an information dump and then that’s it. It gets glossed over and I think that’s a problem. I feel like this stuff should have been introduced earlier on and been part of his story as well.
Political Aspect. I might be in the minority here among casual movie watchers but there was a lot of this movie that I just found super boring and cliché. The entire subplot that dealt with Thomas Wayne and the train incident and everything that was grouped with that, I found to be silly. Or at least heavy handed. I mean, I get it, and being that our main character turns out to be a villain, it’s not surprising that things go in his favor when it comes to political and world views, but it was happening and because he wasn’t involved or even interested in it, any time it was brought up, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes or wonder why the movie was even spending so much time trying to showcase it. It just felt like a paper-thin reason and I just couldn’t get with it.
A Better Ending. So, there is a part of the film where Arthur has access to a camera after he just did something horrible and said some crazy things on television. He grabs the camera and he start to speak, and the camera cuts out. I thought that was a great ending. I wish it ended right there because it leaves way more mystery and leaves the insanity there but nooo we had to get more political stuff. I don’t care about any of that. I understood the point, I knew what they were trying to do, I respect all of that. I just think, the movie would have benefited from being shorter and ending right when that camera cut out. Man, it would have been beautiful. Then the stuff with the news reporters, put it in the credits so we see the world has unraveled.
Overall, it’s hard to say where I stand with this one. I think Joaquin Phoenix was fantastic and the reason to see the movie. The supporting cast is good, and their characters have a lot of interesting relationships and connections to Arthur. The musical score is great and works alongside the movie well. If anything, this movie is a character study of a man who feels forgotten by society and decides to stop trying to be part of it. Now, I do think the movie has an issue with how it presents information, especially stuff that appears to be important but it’s unreliable and that didn’t work for me. I didn’t care for the political aspect, it felt unimportant and extra stuff I didn’t need. Then, as a personal preference, I wish the ending was at a different spot. It would have been perfect. I think the movie is okay. It’s worth the watch for Phoenix’s performance alone.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. 
Have you seen Joker yet? What are your thoughts on the film? Let me know in the comments below!
By the way, this is like the 25,000 time I have seen Bruce Wayne lose his parents.

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Movie Review: Dark Phoenix (2019)

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Summary: Jean Grey begins to develop incredible powers that corrupt and turn her into a Dark Phoenix. Now the X-Men will have to decide if the life of a team member is worth more than all of humanity.
This is a really late review lol but finally here it is!
Pros:
Cast and CharactersHonestly, we have a lot of characters in this movie but I don’t think there is enough screen time for most of them for us to really care about them outside of the fact they are characters we have seen in previous movies or we know them from the comics.
  • Sophie Turner as Jean Grey. She is an extremely powerful mutant with telepathic and telekinetic powers. In this film, the X-men have been working alongside the government in certain missions. In this one, it’s something with NASA so the X-men are sent to help out which causes Jean to have to hold the spaceship together while Kurt tries to save the last astronaut. This causes her to be hit with the cosmic cloud. Throughout the film, she deals with the unraveling of her mind and the strength of her powers. She goes back and forth between being vulnerable and confident as she loses more of who she was and goes into someone she’s not sure she wants to be. The film is ultimately about her and her journey and I think Sophie Turner does a good job with the ups and downs Jean goes through. If you don’t like Sansa Stark then you might be reminded of her in the beginning when Jean’s all crying and what not but when she takes on the confidence of the Phoenix she does the smirking expressions and the kind of darkness of Phoenix to the point where I was like “Yass I’m into it” lol. Also, her American accent was a lot better in this one compared to her first outing as Jean. She slipped a few times but it was overall good.
  • James McAvoy as Charles Xavier / Professor X. He is a mutant pacifist and he founded Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. In this, Charles seems to be loving the attention they are getting from the world and others call him out on it. If anything can be said about Charles, it’s he tries to make decisions with the best intentions, for the “greater good”. He never does anything to ruin a person’s life, or to better himself. He does it to help and I think that’s always been his thing. Sure, he may not always be morally right and he may not make the best decisions, but it’s not like he’s a bad guy. Anyway, James McAvoy is so good as Charles though, he’s always so good.
Supporting Characters. 
  • Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto. He’s not in the movie that much, he comes in maybe the halfway mark and then sticks around but he’s not a big player like he has been in the past. He only really gets involved because he’s living on some mutant island where they can be safe and Jean goes to him for sanctuary. When he finds out what happened, he spends a good chunk going after Jean. Michael Fassbender is still good as Erik, he doesn’t get a ton to do in this movie but when he’s on screen, he still is very dynamic.
  • Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy / Beast. I like Nicholas Hoult and I think he does really well with the emotional weight his character goes through really well. I do not like him in the movie but I think Hoult still does a great job with Hank though.
  • Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers / Cyclops. He can fire optic beams with his eyes. In this film he and Jean are in a developing relationship and it’s part of what helps her stay grounded, that and the idea of family. He’s a foundation of hope for Jean. I like Tye Sheridan and I like him as Scott, he doesn’t get a ton to do in this film but I like the chemistry with him and Sophie Turner.
  • Jessica Chastain as Vuk. Without going into any spoiler details, she is trying to lead Jean and teach her how to use her power that causes her to give in to the power. She is very clinical and unsettling. I think a lot of it has to do with her appearance but I think Jessica Chastain does a fine job in the role.
Story Idea. Of course, the story idea of Jean dealing with the cosmic powers from space and the whole dark phoenix thing is awesome. I think it’s really great to see her struggle with her power, her trauma and identity.
Use of Powers. The action in this movie is handled well. How Jean’s powers are used, while not as massive as they could be, I thought was handled really well, particularly the scene at the end when she really gets to show out. I also think how Nightcrawler gets to use his powers, particularly in the last half of the film is super exciting! Getting to see Charles in the midst of battle use his powers against someone else who also has his powers… to see other characters get to shine during action scenes was really fun to watch. If anything, the action and power use is really exciting! On a negative (?) note, they do know that Storm can do more than harness lightning, right? Just thought I’d ask.
Cons:
Other Characters. I swear, the other characters are just there because they were in previous movies. I love both Storm and Nightcrawler. They are my favorite X-men and I feel like the movies just don’t know what to do with them, or at least how to utilize them the way they should. Even Scott, is just reduced to “Jean I’m here for you…” and blah blah blah and I’m like *rolls eyes* I know the movie is about Jean and while the other characters KIND of get to shine in action pieces, I just wish their personalities get the same love as the action.
Nothing’s happening? For a good chunk of the movie there’s not much happening. It just seems like Jean’s going from place to place, crying and being afraid of whatever’s happening to her. She goes from person to person to find help and finally when she meets Jessica Chastain, things seem to be kicking off. It just felt like an hour of nothing really going on until the last 30 minutes or so.
Forgettable. I don’t think this movie makes the stamp it really wants to make. I feel like in the sea of X-men movies we have, this one will kind of just float on by because the tension isn’t really there. I didn’t feel like anything was really going to happen that would be long lasting. I mean, it’s hard to really take it seriously considering what’s going on behind the scenes with Marvel Studios taking over now, but even without that, I don’t think it would really make the impression it wants to make. I mean, outside of me doing this review, I’m like… okay.
Freaking Mystique. She’s never been my favorite character in the X-men universe but she’s a bit cool and the movies made her cooler however, I don’t care for this whole thing of trying to make her be a good guy or make her be an X-men. Is it because it’s Jennifer Lawrence? Is she not allowed to be a bad guy? In this movie she’s leading the X-men team out in the field but she is also upset at Charles, even more so than she’s been in other movies. I’m over her. Mystique has always worked at the betterment of herself. Yes, I don’t mind her wanting to protect the kids, but stop trying to make her into something she’s not because it’s just really annoying and it makes me hate her. I don’t think Jennifer Lawrence is a bad actress, I think she’s fine, I just find her character (particularly in this) super annoying and I don’t like the direction or the writing for her character. She comes off really whiny.
Do We Hate Charles Now? I’m sorry this might be spoiler-ish? I feel like they might have been setting this up in other movies, which is fine, but since when do we all hate and distrust Charles? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to act like his choices were perfect, especially when it came to helping Jean, but let’s not act like he does things for his own ego. He does things to help others. Sure, he’s at an interesting place in this movie but don’t sit here and allow Mystique, and then Hank to sit here and act like Charles is the reason for every bad thing that’s happened? No thanks. I did not like that and I was upset every time it was brought up and the first 30 minutes, I was sitting in my chair fuming. I don’t think it was a good plot point because it was stupid. Having Jean be upset or whatever is okay because that makes sense but the other stuff? Meh. I hate it.
Overall, I didn’t hate Dark Phoenix, especially not in the way I’ve seen other people call it ‘trash’ which I don’t think it is, but I don’t think it’s as good as it should be. This movie has gone through a lot in terms of reshoots and what not and I think it shows. I think Jean and Charles who are the main leads are interesting and Sophie Turner and James McAvoy handle their characters really well. The other characters do just fine overall and the acting is good. The story is really interesting and I just wish we got to see a bit more and I really like how the powers are used in this film, everyone kind of gets their moment to shine. Now, I don’t think the character development and personalities get the same amount of love the action does. I think it’s a very forgettable movie in the sea of comic book movies or even X-men movies. I HATE Mystique in these movies and I’m sick of her being shoved in my face as a good person, they’re giving me whiplash with who she is and what her motives are. JUST STOP. Jennifer Lawrence clearly doesn’t want to do these because I swear, she’s phoning it in. Also, this whole thing of people wanting to turn on Charles because he’s made some bad decisions, I mean please. UGH! I hated that too. In the end, this is a fine movie to watch, especially if you are an X-men fan. Check it out.
Rating: 2.9 out of 5 stars. 
Have you seen Dark Phoenix? What were your thoughts? Comment below and let me know! I would love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading and be sure to keep an eye out for any future reviews!