Friday, August 05, 2016


Will I like this movie?
Yes? No? Maybe? Who knows? That's your opening question? You want to know if you'll like this movie? Here's a better question; should you keep an open mind when going to see this movie, and the answer is, why yes, you should. Rotten Tomato score aside, are you really that conflicted over spending $15 on a summer blockbuster? I mean, c'mon. You gonna see Bad Moms instead?

When it comes to method acting in comic book movies, I prefer less Daniel Day Lewis. Will Jared Leto's portrayal of the Joker annoy me?
Surprisingly, no. And I was prepared to be annoyed. Don't get me wrong--Jordan Catalano for life, but really, 30 Seconds to my Tuchus Hole is more like it. So sometimes, I'm like, yay, Jared! And sometimes, I'm like, noooo, Jared. This time, I was way into it.

First off, despite his heavy presence in the promotional material, the Joker is more of a cameo in the movie as opposed to being a key player. Which is fine. Maybe I liked him so much because it was in small doses. Who knows. But I will say that Leto definitely made it his own. Jack Nicholson gave us the PGA Tour Joker. Heath Ledger delivered on the Pyscho Town population one-Joker. Jared Leto gives us an actual sexy Joker--no, a pansexual Joker--and I was into it. He wasn't hammy. He wasn't brooding. He was menacing, tripolar, unpredictable, chaotic, frenetic, zany, shirtless and seductive. It's wild seeing a character we've known for so long redefined and recreated for a modern time.

High praise. What's with the baby clothes though
No idea. Get back to me on that if you hear something.

Okay, cool. You liked Joker. Now, how did you feel about Harley Quinn without sounding like a creepy, leering, misogynistic adolescent fanboy?
Homina, homina, homina. 

I said, without acting like a creepy, leering, misogynistic adolescent fanboy?
Sorry, you're right. Look, I'm going to acknowledge the exposed butt cheeks in the room. Harley's outfit is definitely on the skimpy side, and I'm not entirely sure why it's so on the skimpy side, but here's the thing, Margot Robbie conjures up all the weird feeling you felt as a creepy, leering, misogynistic adolescent fanboy in a good way (sorry, not sorry) which is feeling some undeniable and weird attraction to a comic book character. Which is a thing that happens to boys all the time. Ayers kinda tapped into that bawdiness which is problematic but undeniably effective.

G-d, writing all that was so awkward.

Anyway, Robbie is a gifted actress and she brings her A game with Harley Quinn. It's a great character with emotional range and an established back story. I thought she did an exceptional job. But more so, she brought the comic book character to life in a way I have never seen any other actor or actress do so before. She almost literally tore Harley out of the pages and onto the screen. And some of that is the weird, sexual undercurrents that comes along with all of it. I'm not excusing it. I am simply stating that it is a thing and also one of the reasons why Harley a fan favorite when it comes to cosplay.

So yeah, she did great. Can I stop talking about this now? I feel like you're looking at me funny.

Yeah, we should move on. What about Will Smith?
I admittedly have a low threshold for him because every time I look at him, I think C'MON MAN THETANS IN YOUR BODY? So it's like, well, if I can tolerate him, we good. This time around, I more than tolerated. I liked him. Forgot all about the thetans.

He is good as Deadshot. No, he's very good. He brings his thespian range to the character and I believe in Floyd Lawton as a conflicted person who's capable of separating his good side from his bad side. He is a daddy who loves his daughter (awww) but he's also a hired killer (uh oh) who doesn't kill women or children (awww).

I just want to say that if he did, however, take up Deadshot again, and they had him break his no children rule to kill his own son Jaden then I would get some schadenfreude thrill from that.

Wow. okay. So it sounds like it's all good here. Suicide Squad is all thumbs up. Which makes me think you're either an idiot or a contrarian. 
Well, here's the scoop. The movie is not without its faults. Obviously. But all the working parts are there. Great actors playing great characters. Flourishes of humor. A simple, direct plot line. Established and believable characters. Great visual POP moments. Good direction.

But there are many factors here culminating into the bad reviews I've been trying not to read: 1) you can only hype a movie so much, and we have been waiting on Suicide Squad for a year already with clip after clip after trailer after behind the scenes after clip. You can't possibly live up to year long hype, especially one that's been so monumental. But this is a comic book/ movie making industry problem as a whole. Anyway...

2) The editing is somewhat problematic in that it feels a wee bit choppy but that's kind of out there as being a studio interference issue which AGAIN is a comic book/ movie making industry problem. For some reason having to do with a billion dollars, studios are super nervous Nelly when it comes to directors actually making the movie they intended to make, and so studios then get super involved in the final product too close to the release date which results in mediocrity. (see; cooks in kitchen).

3) The dialogue has some HE SAID WHAAAAAA semi-whack moments which did elicit the occasional groan or two. Specifically this one scene SPOILER ALERT in which Diablo says something about the people he had just met two days prior being his family. Gag. But whatever. I'm not excusing it, but a lot of this stuff sounds like actual comic book dialogue come to life. Which is bad but also good but also bad.

4) About that plot I mentioned. It's not great. It's not bad. It's just not great. It's fairly linear. And often the Comic Book Movie Defender Society (not a real thing, by the way) always point out that the first movie is set up for a sequel. Look, I hope there's a Suicide Squad sequel. I truly do. But you can't make a first movie based on the presumption that you'll get a second shot at Deadshot (see what I did there?). That being said, I was entertained and it succeeded at being an Effective Summer Blockbuster.

You have a lot to say about this movie.  
That's not an FAQ, but I'll respond to it anyway. Look, I liked this movie. I think it deserves a chance. I think this hyperbole-slinging critical mob gnashing their teeth and sharpening their knives is weird and disproportionate. Do they resent the Hollywood super hero movie initiative? Maybe. No. Yes. I don't know. Some of them? That's unfair to dismiss all critics as one thing and also it does a disservice toward improving the super hero movie genre. There are very valuable things David Ayers can learn from some of the criticisms if or, again, when he is given the chance to do this again. So let's read reviews with a grain of salt. Sure, Rotten Tomatoes has a 27% (ouch) but Independence Day has a 32% and I literally think of that movie as two hours of turd. Like watching someone poop on a screen. So, whatev.

Why is a movie titled Suicide Squad rated R?
Unclear, but it was very apparent to me that Ayers was purposely holding back on the bawdy talk and the violence and that, to me, was an issue. I wanted this to be DC's response to Deadpool as it should have been. And there's no question in my mind that it would have benefitted from being "harder."

But of course this was a studio decision to scale larger, but when you make narrative decisions based on how many people you can stuff into theater seats, the narrative suffers. And to be perfectly honest, I would even go so far as to say that Warner Bros unintentionally sabotaged its own bottom line by pandering to teens. GODDAMN TEENAGERS!

Any other standout moments from the movie?
I liked Jai Courtney's take on Captain Boomerang a lot and wish they gave that dude more to do. And considering that his name in the movie is Captain Boomerang, I commend him for taking it seriously because, well, Captain Boomerang. Killer Croc, also, bad ass.

Oh, and not a huge Joel Kinnaman fan. I want to want to like him, but I dunno. Whenever he talks, he sounds like he's doing a John Wayne imitation solely based on someone describing what John Wayne sounds like. It's off to me like milk that could go either way.

So, it's not a movie without its problems...?
Absolutely not. Would never claim that to be the case. But I liked it because I want to like things more than I don't want to like things. I approached this movie as a fan looking to be entertained.

Here's the thing. I was an active music critic for a long time and I listened to music in an effort to pick it apart and describe it and analyze it and find reference points and be all PHD on it because I was being paid (or not, in most cases) to be the opposite of being a fan. That's just the reality of being a critic. So you see things way different than they see things. That's a fact, and also a reason for the huge discrepancy between critic score and audience score.

How's Viola Davis by the way?
Pretty fierce. I dug her. Nice to see an African American woman in charge for once, which, by the way, Amanda Waller is kind of a big deal history-wise in the comics, and even better, in the movie, she's portrayed by an incredibly competent actor.
But here's more on that.

Did you like this better than Batman V Superman? Because I think I heard that you liked it, which is also kind of contrarian. And wrong. 
Look, I acknowledge all of BvS's faults. But the larger problem with that movie is explained better in this wonderful lil' video here. And I'm not going to go off on a tangent about my feelings on that movie because it's over and done with.
Ultimately, Suicide Squad is better than BvS for many reason, a lot of them mentioned above. But the primary reason is that last night, I felt an undercurrent of joy in the movie that many people may not see or feel. This is for me personally what I walked out with. I got the sense that everyone pretty much believed in the potential of this franchise and wanted to make it work and had fun trying to accomplish that. And this is primarily because each individual actor made his or her respective role their own. I can't say the same about Ben Affleck or Henry Cavill.

And Gal Gadot?
Homina, homina, homina.

Will you stop that? It's making me uncomfortable. 
Gal's wonderful. I'm all in. Best part of BvS as far as I'm concerned. And there's a lot riding on that movie coming out next year and I am so hopeful it hurts.

If you were to give Suicide Squad a Rotten Tomato score, what would you give?
Not sure I want to answer this one because I hate that we have scores and that's how we assess whether we should see a movie or not. I love going to the movies. Often times, I'll go see one on the Thursday night it comes out just so I can make my own assessment. So, no. No score for you. Go see it. You hate it? Okay. I'm sure you've done worse things with two hours of your time like when you did that thing with the mayonnaise jar and the skateboard.

You saw that?
I'm going to finish up here even though I have a lot more to say about this movie. And I want to end it on this hopeful note. I am so happy to be alive in a time in which all the things I loved so much as a child are now coming to life. I can't begin to describe to you the joy I feel whenever I hear about a new super hero/ comic book project green lit. And no matter how many times I have been let down, I will still recognize the special thing that is happening. The fact that these things in of itself exist is a wondrous thing. The very notion that my insular, introverted adolescent experience is now a widely accepted mass experience resonates with me in a profound way. To think that my oft misunderstood outlet, the escapism from the harshness of the day-to-day is now being embraced by so many around me. I am happy for them. I feel privileged to witness their exposure.

It's sappy, but it's real. I'm happy they made a Suicide Squad movie. Unequivocally.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

lets suicide!

12:00 AM  

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