Monday, August 15, 2016

Suicide Squad Review

Panned by critics, praised by fanboys, and breaking box office records, Suicide Squad is yet another divisive film from DC!
Wow, now this is one difficult review to write. Walking into the theater without a single notion of the abysmal critical response helped to remove the bias of expecting to tear it apart. In fact, walking to the truck after movie, I was thoroughly entertained and had a great time. But that does not mean I necessarily disagree with the consensus. Honestly, if DC just cannot make quality superhero flicks, a small part of me just wants their movies to fail so hard that it kills the franchise, so as stop oversaturating the superhero genre. Of course, by making so much money regardless of what people say, that is not happening anytime soon.

Let's get back to the film itself. If you hate Suicide Squad, that's fine by me; it is completely understandable. In many ways, it does deserve the panning t. DC just cannot get their stuff together no matter how hard they try. However, as you will find in my review, Suicide Squad does the absolute most important aspect so much better than Batman v Superman….

Directed by: David Ayer
Genre: Action, Comic Book, Fantasy
Release Date: August 5, 2016
Running Time: 123 minutes
MMPA rating: PG-13

The Good: Harley Quinn, Excellent main cast, Will Smith is great, Joker scenes, Great humor, Rocking soundtrack, After credits scenes (finally), Good first 20 minutes, Great chemistry between cast, Jai Courtney isn't bad, El Diablo's backstory, Viola Davis as Amanda Waller kills it, Fanservice and Easter Eggs,

The Bad: Awful antagonist, Generic Third Act, A bit too obvious at times, Missed opportunities, Messy plot composition, Some music doesn't work, Subpar CGI,

Plot: 3.0/10- Ultimately, the plot is where is where Suicide Squad falls flat. Despite having so many potential options for the central plot and antagonist, Suicide Squad takes the most clich├ęd, generic, and boring route to drive the plot forward. Apparently, it is even essentially the same final act as this year's Ghostbusters! With a premise of villains essentially being forced into covert Black Ops missions for the government, the best central plot should have been obvious, but alas, it's a huge missed opportunity (who signs off on this stuff!?).

Another issue with the plot is that the narrative is messy and jumps around from flashback to flashback to side plot to other side plot. The messy editing did not detract from the entertainment value, but it certainly could have been much better, especially considering that the Harley flashbacks are the most interesting part.

Characterization: 8.6/10- For first time, DC made me care about their characters. Suicide Squad's cast of quirky characters is what keeps it from being a bad film. In fact, for me at least, the characters elevated the film to a thoroughly entertaining experience.

Harley Quinn is easily the standout. Harley Quinn has been one of, if not, my absolute favorite character in all of DC ever since her first appearance in Batman: The Animated Series. And this portrayal of the character does not disappoint. She isn't quite the show-stopper she could have been, but as a fan, Harley Quinn finally hits the big screen in brilliantly quirky, humorous, and fiendish fashion. Her flashbacks with the Joker are a highlight of the film, although it should have been an entire film instead of just flashbacks.

Speaking of the Joker, contrary to the marketing, he is neither the main antagonist nor a central aspect of the film. Since I never place any value in trailers or marketing, his lack of screen time wasn't disappointing. He is just not a main part of the film and that's fine, although what he is in is quite good.

Deadshot, along with Harley, are the real stars of the films. His backstory and characterization is quite good. You actually care about the character and his reasons for what he does. His one-liners are funny, and his character motivation with his daughter is well executed.

El Diablo's story might be emotionally manipulative to some, but it works. Captain Boomerang is a surprise as his character is hysterical, albeit seemingly useless in a fight. Killer Croc is barely relevant, except for some humorous moments and action sequences. Katana is underused, with only one relevant scene. Enchantress' motivations are poorly conceived, and Rick Flag is just kind of OK. However, Amanda Waller is a standout among the cast with a strong presence and an overall interesting character.

Direction: 6.0/10- David Ayer's direction is hit and miss. The first 20 minutes are full of style and fun visuals. Unfortunately, that same style does not permeate the rest of the film in the same way. The action sequences are uninspired and generally unimpressive. However, the cast's quirks and fun traits elevate relatively average action sequences into a thoroughly viewing experience for me at least. Nothing about the action is bad. There's no shaky-cam or poor editing. It's just not amazing or impressive.

Acting: 8.4/10- Suicide Squad's cast is certainly a highlight. Margot Robbie plays an excellent Harley Quinn! Will Smith plays a very Will Smith type of Deadshot, yet it works quite well, making this his most memorable role in years. Despite minimal screen time, Jared Leto's Joker makes a good impression with a distinctly different take on the character that could be expanded upon in later films. Viola Davis is incredibly menacing and portrays Waller perfectly. Shockingly, Jai Courtney does not suck. Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag is serviceable, and the rest of the cast are fine with no noticeably strong or weak performances.

Special effects: 6.0/10- With a $175 million budget, you'd think the CGI would look a lot better. It's rather mediocre for one character in particular. The rest of the special effects are fine, but unimpressive.

Soundtrack: 8.8/10- Suicide Squad's soundtrack tries to mimic the success of Guardians of the Galaxy with a collection of catchy music from different eras. Most of the music, even songs from genres I dislike, are a lot of fun and got me hyped up in certain scenes. The usage of the songs can feel a bit unnecessary and forced, although it created a more fun tone. However, using "Spirit In The Sky" by Norman Greenbaum, a song used in Guardians of the Galaxy, was a huge mistake because it just reminds the audience of the far superior film that Suicide Squad is attempting to copy.

Humor: 8.5/10- Honestly, Suicide Squad is a funny movie! It has a good sense of humor with some good one-liners and humorous interactions between the cast of quirky characters. Sure, it pales in comparison to Marvel's wit, but that's expected.

Entertainment Value: 9.4/10- Honestly, Suicide Squad was a largely entertaining experience. The characters kept me invested in the story, and while the narrative is a mess, it never detracted from my fun with all the quirky characters. Unlike Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad is not a self-important slog with dreadfully boring characters, and honestly, I rather watch a shallow movie with characters I actually care about than one that thinks it's deep with horrendous characters.

Overall: 7.0/10- Featuring DC's best cast of characters to date and some surprisingly amount of heart, Suicide Squad's painfully derivative antagonist and conflict mixed with an otherwise messy narrative makes for a very fun and stylish film with numerous flaws. With that said, if you can connect with the characters and enjoy the style, Suicide Squad is worth at least a rent.

Closing comments: If you hated Suicide Squad, that's perfectly fine. In fact, I do not disagree with you. Suicide Squad is not a great movie. It's just OK, and if you like the characters, then it's a fun movie, nothing more, nothing less.

Recommended for: DC fans, Anti-hero fans, Harley Quinn fans,

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  1. I enjoyed the first third but once it got to the mission I just wanted it to end. Didn't rate this Joker but did like Harley and Deadshot. The first bit is good because DC let the people who made the trailers - which were so well received - have a go at editing a cut and their version ended up being much of the beginning. The dull, dark, war movie stuff was more Ayers' vision.

  2. I agree whole heartedly. especially what you said about Harley Quins flashback scenes! seriously. those scenes were sooooo interesting. like they should have been a movie on their own. every time one ended I just thought "No wait! I have questions about that! I want to know more about that! go back!"

    the plot, as you said, was everywhere. kinda distracting.

    and for all the hate Jared Leto has gotten, I adored his Joker. I really did. he was crazy and intriguing. maybe because Im a psychology major and like analyzing people. but I thought he was a super interesting character. Harley too. and El Diablo!! I thought it was a bit emotionally manipulative. but I loved the guy anyway.

    I still dont know how to feel about it. I liked it but I had my complaints. (Like why was Katana there?? she was useless?? and The Enchantress? I love her but what is going on there??) so I feel like I need to give it a re-watch once it comes out on dvd.

  3. Great review, James. Very well thought-out and reasonable. Not that I think people who hate the movie or love the movie are wrong or anything, but a lot of people out there seem to be giving it extreme reviews that reflect the reviewer's emotions more than the film's actual quality. :P (Of course I'd be tempted to do that too, if I were a huge fan expecting great things that the trailer promised and didn't get them!) Sounds like not knowing anything critically going in was a great idea. I haven't seen it yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if I agreed with you. I may enjoy watching it, and characters are always what I value most, but beyond that, I can't imagine being very impressed. Hmm, maybe they thought Spirit in the Sky wasn't too obvious cause Guardians only used it in the trailer. But it's on the soundtrack so, not a good idea. I liked the idea that this was DC's "Guardians" but I was hoping that meant it would go off and do it's own awesome thing, not actually COPY Guardians... Anyway, again, great review -- I enjoyed the read!

  4. One of the things I found odd about the whole premise, specifically regarding Harley Quinn, is the need for her on the team. Why is she there? She was a psychologist and then went insane, but how does that give her amazing fighting abilities?

    There was a Suicide Squad animated movie a while back that was tied into the Arkham videogames and they justified her being on the team in a much more reasonable way. They needed her for her insight when breaking into Arkham Asylum, a place she knows intimately. It made enough sense. Here, though? Why would Harley Quinn be of any help against a Superman equivalent threat?

    Maybe there's a better excuse in the comics, but I haven't read them.


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