'Joker: 4K Ultra HD+ Blu-ray + Digital'
(Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, et al / 4K Blu-ray + Blu-ray + Digital / R / 2019 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: Forever alone in a crowd, Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) longs for any light to shine on him.
Trying his hand as a stand-up comic, he finds the joke always seems to be on him.
Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty and, ultimately, betrayal, Arthur makes one bad decision after another that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events.
Blu-ray Verdict: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the simply majestical 'Joker’ in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this January 7th, 2020.
For my money, this 'Joker: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.
So, what we have is 'Joker' presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Native 4K (2160p), HDR: Dolby Vision + HDR10, Aspect ratio: 1.85:1, and Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1.
Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.
Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable. For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; such as the streets of Gotham coming alive behind Joaquin as he gets beaten by the thugs, or even the subway train scene where he finally loses control. It just all comes more vividly to life, which is amazing to see, in truth.
Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and some of the yellow graded material (notably the scenes where the camera pans on a vividly disturbing close up of Joaquin's face once he has the clown paint on; and of the madness bubbling under the surface) now have a kind of honeyed amber appearance. Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.
As for the audio, well we have: English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps), Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps), French: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps), Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1, Hindi: Dolby Digital 5.1, Thai: Dolby Digital 5.1, Tamil: Dolby Digital 5.1, and Telugu: Dolby Digital 5.1.
Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.
Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, in truth, while the trailers for this movie have may seemed like there was potential for an action packed movie, this movie, clearly (and even before it came to theaters) was intended to be a progressive character study.
Indeed, you shouldn't go into this movie expecting intense action or the joker we know of the past. This is a movie about how Arthur Fleck becomes the Joker. Simple as.
I have seen so many bad reviews about how boring or slow the movie is, but I believe it was utter perfection.
Furthermore, Todd Phillips' direction and script are masterstrokes. If it were a painting it would be a Turner, with bright violent skies, and dark sad landscapes.
His beautiful melting pot of inspiration features large doses of Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver, alongside the physiological battery acid from more recent pictures such as Fight Club and Black Swan.
It swirls together to birth this bitter, gritty, dark, mesmerizing masterpiece, that both requires and demands, multiple, in-depth viewings.
The first part of the movie we begin to understand Arthur as a person. All of his interactions with everyone in his life, be it good or bad. The whole point of a character study is evolution. And this is far and away one of the greatest evolutions of a character I have ever seen in a movie.
Joaquin Phoenix's performance is by far the best acting I have seen in a movie possibly in the last few decades. We see a challenged person be challenged by society and it completely breaks him down over time.
And Joaquin isn't acting, he is evolving all throughout the movie. If anyone thinks he doesn't put on an Oscar winning performance, they're out of their effing mind!
Yes, the movie is slow to start, but it has to be. We couldn't just jump into the Joker and all the chaos. We need to know where it came from to begin with.
The whole compilation of the movie is amazing. The complete Oscar deserving performance of Joaquin, the choreography, the cinematography, the score. Everything is in perfect harmony.
While there may have been a lot of controversy surrounding this movie, the team put together a perfect movie and I pity those who can't appreciate the tears and sweat and emotion that went into making it.
I have always been so one-sided in my movie preferences between Marvel and DC. I feel like Marvel is so much better overall and most movies DC puts out are trash!
But Joker is far and away my favorite comic movie. Even though it takes a completely different spin on comic movies it allows you to appreciate the evolution to appreciate this movie.
It's not an action movie, but it's really rips and tears at all the emotions in one movie while adding a wild suspenseful kick. No other comic book movie has done that before. Maybe none ever will.
The cinematography is astounding, and MUST be in contention for an Academy Award, alongside Best Lead, Best Direction and best Sound Mixing. Some of the shots could have been lifted from a Time Magazine piece on 'City Life' they're that artistically powerful.
Whole, dialogue-free sequences that say far more with silence and sounds of a city teetering on the brink of oblivion in the background than anyone could ever say.
The sound mixing to have conversations, telephones, car horns, shouting, trains prevalent in the background audio leaking into the foreground does what Nolan did in Dunkirk and pushes further the feeling of strain.
The idea that even noise is seeping in from the city and soon the barricade will break and it'll drown us all in it's filth, corruption and decadence.
In closing, and simply put, 'Joker' is a true, unabashed masterpiece. So dark, so dirty, so vindictive of a modern flawed and broken societal system, but it always reminds you: Put on a happy face.
As for the special features included here on this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition, the stand out for me has to be The Making of: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Creation of the Film, for with people such as Cinematographer Lawrence Sher, ASC telling us that as much as the film's title might sway you to believe, 'Joker; was all about the cinema and not the jokes.
Explaining that they set out from the off to tell a cinematic story that brought the origin of The Joker to the viewers via hued scenes and heavily detailed and story boarded vignettes, the comedy was always put to the side.
He goes on to actually connect movies such as Old School and The Hangover as films that showcased a lot of the same cinematic beliefs, whether you saw or noticed it yourselves at the time.
Sher, who has worked with director Todd Phillips many times, further explains that they wanted to make this movie better than anything they had ever done before and knew that they HAD to make the most uncompromised film they had made together to date.
Interestingly enough, given that most movies like this are shot at 2:35, Sher explains that both he and Phillips agreed on 1:85 from the start which was great as they then wanted to shoot the movie in 65mm film.
This would have meant that it became a movie of extremes, where in wide shots Joaquin was small cutting against extreme close ups that showed an anamorphic depth, but that they went down that path, but just couldn't afford it. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:
• The Making Of: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Creation of the Film
• Joaquin Phoenix Alternate Takes
• Costume Tests
• Joker: Vision & Fury
• Becoming Joker
• Please Welcome… Joker!
• Joker: A Chronicle of Chaos
On December 17th, 2019, 'Joker' will be available to own in high definition and standard definition from select digital retailers including Amazon, FandangoNOW, iTunes, PlayStation, Vudu, Xbox and others.
On January 7th, 2020, 'Joker' will be made available digitally on Video On Demand services from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles, along with being released on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD too.
Official 'Joker' Trailer
'Joker: 4K Ultra HD' Blu-ray Amazon Purchase Link
Official 'Joker' Facebook Page!
Official 'Joker' Twitter Page!