I’ve been a Batman fan since the television series of the 1960’s. I even had lunch with a Batman… okay, it wasn’t actually with Adam West as much as next to him. BUT, me and Tom told people we had lunch with Batman because it was close enough…

In any event, the Batman series introduced us to the Joker and he’s been the one villain with endless stories to tell. Here’s another one…

Story: This character has evolved into such a troubled individual. My first exposure to the Joker was Cesar Romero; a fun loving ham of a criminal. Jack Nicholson also portrayed the character as the same.

But over time, the character has become dark and troubled. Heath Ledger debuted the backstory Joker and now, Joaquin Phoenix has taken it another step further.

This Joker story involves more subtle killings that seem to be symptoms of his troubled life as opposed to in pursuit of Batman. There is no mention of Batman. Think of this version as a prequel… the development of such reveals a little bit more about how the Joker became the Joker.

Performances: Joaquin Phoenix delivers what will be an Oscar-nominated performance. Even if you don’t like or appreciate the performance, he will be nominated. And it’s for that reason he will be nominated. It’s hard to watch in some scenes. You will have reactions to his behavior. There will be moments when you feel for him. But Joaquin Phoenix does a great job of blurring the line of sanity.

Robert DeNiro plays a talk show host and there’s not much more to it. His performance feels like a parody because it is.

Visual: Looks like it’s set in the middle to late 1970’s in Gotham City. The most vivid visual in this film is probably the set of the talk show. The Tonight Show had a very iconic look during the 1970’s and this film nailed it. Spot on.

Rating: I debated this rating because there’s something about this film I don’t like. But because I’m still having such a reaction to it, I can’t discount it. B.

If you are into all the Joker versions out there be it big or small screen, see this one as well. Accumulate them all and let them culminate into a complete Joker. If you think about it from that perspective, it’s really quite interesting…