tom’s review published on Letterboxd:
my kids now eat on a placemat that came with a burger king kids' meal that i got some time in the early 1980s, which i think is when this film is supposed to be set. on it we see batman's origin story, including the brutal back-alley slaying of bruce wayne's parents, which in hindsight is a pretty strange thing to put on a kids' placemat. but the storytelling and artwork are so direct on that placemat that it's an indelible memory for me despite my never having had any real interest in that style of comics beyond the placemat. that same scene is depicted in JOKER and though it's fine, it's far less dynamic than the one on the placemat, which is sort of how i felt about this entire endeavor -- it's a somewhat frail pastiche of better things that came before. it's fine, but was it really worth this much of our collective cultural time and energy over this past year? it doesn't really make much of a strong statement beyond its commitment to the spectacle.
it's also somewhat lacking as a period piece, not because of the look or the production design (those are pretty great) but in other details like the cadence of people's speech and the way they carry themselves. maybe we needed a further exploration of the themes of TAXI DRIVER and THE KING OF COMEDY in a period setting but did that need to happen also as a retrofitted supervillain origin story? i'm not convinced that it did, and i think the problems that people are having with this are due mostly to the problems that arise from trying to shoehorn that origin story in. if this were a simple character study there would have been room to avoid some of these pitfalls. still, i can't deny that phoenix in standard phoenix-mode works especially well for this particular character.
home, screener dvd