First ‘Joker’ Reviews: Critics Rave, Standing Ovation, Oscar Buzz

Roadshow Films

It appears Joker is a great film!

The movie, which has Joaquin Phoenix playing the hugely popular DC villain in what’s said to be a very different take on the character, has had quite the reception at its Venice Film Festival premiere. The picture reportedly received an 8-minute standing ovation (eight. minutes. clapping.) after the credits had rolled, and the rave reviews that followed showed why.

Yes, director/co-writer Todd Phillips (The Hangover trilogy) and three-time Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix have shot to the frontline of the Oscar buzz with this one – particularly Phoenix, who has critics raving with an all-in performance as a man at breaking point. With an 86% Rotten Tomatoes score at the time of writing (based on 49 critic reviews) and with big outlets such as Empire calling it “bold, devastating and utterly beautiful” and IGN saying it “isn’t just an awesome comic book movie, it’s an awesome movie, period,” well, the hype is truly up.

We’ve gathered review snippets to offer you a look at some of the rave reactions hitting the net. It’s not all love though; we’ve also included some of what the negative reviews – by far the minority at the moment – are saying.

The major love:

Bold, devastating and utterly beautiful, Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix have not just reimagined one of the most iconic villains in cinema history, but reimagined the comic book movie itself.

Empire Online

Phoenix is all in and then some, a performance so dazzling risky and original you might as well start engraving his name on the Oscar right now. No joke, this is a movie […] unlike any other from the DC universe, and you will find it impossible to shake off. At least I did.


Featuring a riveting, fully realized, and Oscar-worthy performance by Joaquin Phoenix, Joker would work just as well as an engrossing character study without any of its DC Comics trappings; that it just so happens to be a brilliant Batman-universe movie is icing on the Batfan cake.


This is a truly nightmarish vision of late-era capitalism ““ arguably the best social horror film since ‘Get Out’ ““ and Phoenix is magnetic in it. He runs Heath Ledger cigarette-paper close as the finest screen Joker.

Time Out

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.

The Guardian

If this is indeed the one and only film featuring Phoenix’s Joker, though, we should be grateful to have it. Joker is one of the true masterpieces of the superhero cinema, and one of 2019’s greatest achievements.


More character study than comic book movie, and anchored by an Oscar-worthy Joaquin Phoenix, Joker is a bravura blockbuster that proves you don’t need superpowered scraps to dazzle.

Games Radar

Not to discredit the imaginative vision of the writer-director, his co-scripter and invaluable tech and design teams, but Phoenix is the prime force that makes Joker such a distinctively edgy entry in the Hollywood comics industrial complex.

 – THR

You’ll definitely feel like you’ll need a shower after seeing it, but once you’ve dried off and changed clothes, you’ll want to do nothing else but parse and dissect it.


Some of the dislikes:

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.

Phoenix is acting so hard you can feel the desperation throbbing in his veins. […] The movie’s cracks “” and it’s practically all cracks “” are stuffed with phony philosophy. Joker is dark only in a stupidly adolescent way, but it wants us to think it’s imparting subtle political or cultural wisdom


It will be tempting for some to declare this the first art film based on a DC or Marvel property, but while it certainly represents a bit of a departure and something of a risk, “Joker” is ultimately grim-and-gritty comic book nihilism jacked up to the nth degree, wrapped up in a convincing but ultimately hollow simulacra of better, smarter movies.

The Wrap

The rest of us can decide for ourselves when Joker, also starring Robert De Niro and Zazie Beetz, arrives in Australia on October 3 and opens in the US on October 4.

Roadshow Films
Warner Bros.