Monday, August 8, 2016

Suicide Squad (2016) review

Suicide Squad (2016)

Comic book/superhero movies are such a genre in and of themselves that it is getting easier and easier to tell the good ones from the bad ones, due to the fact that we have such shining examples of both highs and lows.  On the shit side we have the most recent Fantastic Four movie, which barely felt like a movie, and Batman v Superman, which was a movie but a complete mess of a movie that ran at least 30-60 minutes too long.  Until recently the gold standard for superhero movies was the first Iron Man, but I did get to catch up on my Captain America and Avengers movies, and of those 5, 4 of them were very very good.  Civil War was pretty amazing, and although I rarely watch movies more than once every 5-10 years, I saw Civil War 3 times (for slightly complicated reasons) within a couple weeks, and still enjoyed it thoroughly each time.  Deadpool would also rank pretty high.

Where does Suicide Squad end up in that comparison?  Well, it is nowhere near as bad as FF or BVS, but nowhere near as good as Iron Man, Avengers, Civil War or Deadpool.  That being said, there are still problems galore, so I will try to be spoiler free while bitching, but you might hear a tiny detail or two.

I have complained about this before with other movies, but what the hell is going on with these damned darkly lit movies???  This is the third one I have had problems with that I can remember, I had the exact same problem with BVS and also the new Star Trek movie as well.  Now, I saw BVS in a standard 2D theater, so there was absolutely no excuse for that.  It just looked terrible on the big screen and visually speaking it was too dark.  Same with the latest Star Trek, though I did see that in 3D and my girlfriend still wants to watch the first two before seeing the 2D version, so I may get to make a comparison, but from what I've been told by others, they had the same issue.  This one, same damned issue, just too dark.  There is nothing wrong with dark sets, dark lighting at appropriate times, or night scenes, but it seems like these films are hiding their flaws in the dark, making it hard to see what is going on during action scenes.  When I think of that fight at the airport in Civil War, it's bright out, sunny, during the day, and you can see EVERYTHING that is going on.  There are times when you see multiple characters fighting in various ways, and the action is watchable and the CGI looks amazing, even with how brightly lit everything is.

Now, early on in this movie you have the commander of the Suicide Squad explaining who everyone is.  She is showing files on each member, and up on the screen pops info about them, name, where they are from, some details about them.  I am a pretty fast reader, but I barely got through half of it before they would switch to another character.  After the first couple I knew that was going to happen, so I tried to read even quicker, but still couldn't finish.  Very frustrating.  Plus it was obvious she did not go through them all, which made me feel like they were setting it up where one character is so obviously less important than the others.  From the trailers alone we knew about the Joker, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, plus a guy that sets things on fire.  But there were others, and we could see that in the trailer, so you expect a brief explanation of who they are in the movie.  But even then we just got the basics.  When they finally do introduce the other characters it is done in a way that you feel like either they barely have a role in the movie, or they will be dead any scene now.  Not a good start to the movie.

Let's take the characters one by one.  Deadshot is played by Will Smith.  He is given the most depth of any character, and since he is the most expensive actor there he gets major screen time.  When he was a rapper, he was likable.  When he was a TV star, he was likable.  When he started in movies, he was likable.  Now he is playing a hitman, a killer, one with few moral, and he's still likable.  I get it, you want people to relate to the characters, even if they are bad.  He is by far not the worst comic book portrayal by any means, but it's Will Smith, he still comes off as likable.

Harley Quinn is played by Margot Robbie, who I last saw overacting in The Legend Of Tarzan, which was pretty damned bad on many levels.  Here, she is much much better.  She can be cute and sweet and funny at times, when she's not being a psycho.  She has chemistry with Deadshot, which is nice, and her love for The Joker, however disturbing, comes off as sweet sometimes.  Her accent?  Well, that is not so great.  I have not read the comics nor watched any animated series where she has appeared.  But her weird over the top faux-Jersey accent is a bit too much for me.  On top of that, it fades in and out while she is talking, which may or may not have been intentional, according to my Harley Quinn obsessed friend.

Diablo sets shit on fire, that's his trait and power, and seems to be what we know about him.  He is a more religious/calm kind of guy, but of course, the calm before the storm sorta thing.  His character is pretty good and the guy playing him does it well, though his part in this movie isn't huge.

Boomerang is an annoying pompous Aussie dude who got boring almost immediately.  Other than being the guy you don't like, he doesn't seem to be there for much of a reason.

Killer Croc is alright, but I felt like he was also pretty underdeveloped as a character.  Deadshot and Harley Quinn really steal this movie from the others.

Slipknot, well, let's just say his character is the least developed of the bunch, and that's that.

June Moone, who is also Enchantress, is played by Cara Delevingne, is ok in the role, but never really made me feel like she was right for the part.  I don't know, just something about her that didn't make me feel it.

Her brother, Monster T, is played by Common, and he was pretty good, but we really don't feel a lot of fear for the villain of the villians in this movie.

The Joker is played by Jared Leto, and this Joker is his creation, he does not copy others.  He comes across as an overly pervy uncle more than a criminal mastermind, but a perverted Joker would not be a shock.

Rick Flag is the first of the good(?) guys.  He is the one directly in charge of the Suicide Squad while they are out in the field.  He is pretty good, and you almost feel bad for him at times.

Katana is working for Rick, there to help keep the Suicide Squad in line.  She seems to enjoy her work.  She seems like she might be an interesting character, maybe even enough to get her own movie.

Which leaves us with one major character, Amanda Waller.  She is in charge of the whole program, Rick, Katana, and the Suicide Squad.  She is, oddly enough, the scariest person in this whole movie.  She is scarier than the villains she hires, the bad guys that they are fighting, and everyone else in the film.  I would trust The Joker sooner than I would trust her.

The plot is extraordinarily simple.  Scary Amanda Waller convinces the government that she can use the Suicide Squad as a tool for the government, and uses Enchantress as her example.  After doing a job, Enchantress decides she will never do anything for her again, and basically becomes the de facto bad guy in the film.  The rest of the Suicide Squad are sent out to save someone and become quasi good guys.  If you have seen the trailer, then you get the idea.  Super humans with poor social skills act up and try to do good, if they can.

We get some visits from other characters in the DC world, which will delight some people.  We get in fighting between characters.  We get flirting from characters.  We get sob stories from characters.  We get a scantily clad Harley.  It is a relatively standard comic book flick which has some fighting, action, arguing and killing.  What we DON'T get is anything new at all.  There is nothing in the movie that surprised me, amazed me, made me do a double take or even breathe in deep.  This is a paint by the numbers comic book movie, which didn't satisfy my urge to be wowed.

All that being said, it is not like the film failed to entertain, at least to a passable degree.  I didn't hate it by any means, this did not sink to the levels of the latest Fantastic Four, or BVS.  This did not even get down to the level of the last X-Men movie, which was bad, but not nearly as bad as those other two.  This fell in that in between zone, more like in the OK to good range, closer to OK.  This is one of those movies where you think, I liked it, but they spent almost 200 million on THAT?

A couple last points I would like to make.  The soundtrack to this movie must have cost them a small fortune.  It was popular song after popular song, which for me was fine, but a bit weird, while it annoyed the fuck out of my girlfriend, who felt the songs were wrong and didn't fit the movie.  It felt like when you see a movie like the first installment of the recent Star Trek franchise, and they pop in a song like Sabotage, and you think, yeah, this is hot, this works.  Except they tried to do it 10 times in this movie, hoping for the same feeling each time.  It sort of waters down the feeling.

According to some things I read, the original cut of this movie had a much darker tone, and there were re-shoots to add in some lighter material, more jokes, etc etc.  I get that, even in the darkest of some of the superhero films, there is comedy, just like there is in real life.  But this is a movie about super villains.  They are supposed to be dark, mean, angry, lack morals, and generally NOT do the right thing.  I get that there is a need to appeal to different levels of fans, but, as we saw with Deadpool, an R rated action superhero film can make a small fortune.  Other than Deadpool, if there was ever going to be another R rated comic book movie, this was the one.  Shit, if you can have 2D, 3D, RPX, 4DX, IMAX, why can't you release a film in both PG and R ratings???!!!  I know that no studio exec will ever read a word I write, but do they seriously think in such limited terms?

Lastly, there is a quick scene in one of the trailers which I have seen ad nauseam over the past few months.  It is one of the funnier and more amusing lines in the trailer and really stood out to me as being funny and made me look forward to the film.  When we got to the scene in the movie where this line takes place, it just isn't there!  They cut the funny line from the trailer in a movie they deemed too dark and did re-shoots for because it was too dark.  What the hell?  I must say not seeing that line in the movie threw me right out of the movie and back into reality, wondering what they were thinking, which is not what you want while people watch your movie.

All in all, this was an OK somewhat fun movie, which could turn into a decent series if they have a good script, use the characters in better ways, and LET THEM BE EVIL!!!!

7 out of 10 stars.

Location : United Artists Kaufman Astoria 14, theater 2 (RPX 3D), Queens, NYC
Date and time : Thursday, August 4th, 2016 at 10:30 PM
Format : DCP, 3D, RPX
Audience : Mostly sold out, audience seemed to like it, but not love it


Right before I saw Suicide Squad I saw Lights Out, and although I reviewed Suicide Squad first, when I wrote my Lights Out review I ended up ranting about the difference between seeing Lights Out versus Suicide Squad, and decided I should add it in here:

My last point has almost nothing to do with this movie, but the movie business in general.  Here is a horror movie, that was made for 5 million dollars, based on a 3 minute short, with no stars in it and a first time director.  It has now made 50 million dollars within a couple weeks.  I walked out of the movie at the end thinking this was a good, solid movie, almost very good, and I would like to see another installment of it.  I walked across the hall, and then caught the Thursday preview screening of Suicide Squad, a movie that was hyped beyond belief, and cost 175 million dollars, not counting a marketing campaign which probably cost more than the movie itself.  When I left the theater after that, I also felt it was a good movie, but not very good or great, which is what I would expect from 175 million dollars.  The insanity of the big name stars, the expensive sets, the costly popular songs, and the need for a movie to break a billion dollars to be considered a success is both disgusting and annoying.  I get the difference in genres, costs, expectations, but there is no reason for Will Smith to be in this movie commanding a ridiculous salary.  When Robert Downey Jr. was in the first Iron Man, he didn't get the job because he was a superstar.  He BECAME a superstar who deserves a ridiculous salary to be Iron Man now, because he made that character who he is.  He was a known actor who might not have been an unknown, but he was not a household name like Will Smith.  I feel way better seeing a movie like Lights Out which at the very least is somewhat of an original idea, with newer and less known actors, than watching overblown movies with overpaid salaries and actors who we all know.  Marvel built that franchise from the ground up, while DC is trying to buy their way in with Ben Affleck and Will Smith.  Rant over.

You can read my whole Lights Out review here :