Friday, August 12, 2016

Suicide Squad - movie review

For those who haven't read any of my comic book movie reviews before, I should probably start with the disclaimer that I'm almost always positive when I write about these films. In some cases, like Batman V. Superman, I could recognize the movie's shortcomings while still enjoying it. In other words, it's pretty tough to create something that I don't like so long as it's based on comic books.

With that said, I really wasn't going in to Suicide Squad with super high expectations. I've never read the comic, and the only characters that I cared about were the ones who were Batman-related. And while I realize that many people loved the trailers, I was a bit underwhelmed. That feeling only sank when the negative reviews started to pour in. I wasn't going to let that stop me from seeing the movie, but I continue to worry that Warner doesn't know how to handle its DC properties the way that Marvel Studios knows how to handle theirs.

Once again though, I'll say that while I understand the negative criticism, I still liked the movie. Much like DC's last effort, Batman V. Superman, I found this to be a pretty frustrating movie, only I have less personally invested in this particular property. I thought that the movie had a really great original style, but it seemed to be the victim of (once again) too much executive interference with the creative process. And Warner is still trying to artificially catch up to Marvel by throwing as many characters in one movie as possible. (How cool would it have been if we already knew most of these villains from various superhero movies and then have this become an anti-Avengers by having them all team up?)

One thing that I can definitely say for it is that the movie really kept up a nice, brisk pace up until the final act, which got caught up in the whole "Why are they all fighting this guy?" trap that so many of these movies do. I thought that the director, David Ayer, made good use of various classic rock songs throughout. Sometimes when people do that, it feels like they're ripping off Scorsese, but I guess it doesn't feel that way when it's done in this particular genre.

All right, here are some scattered thoughts:

Jared Leto as The Joker - I was more than willing to give Leto a chance, and I didn't really pay too much attention the fact that the guy seems to be a real creep. Obviously, Heath Ledger's performance is still fresh in a lot of people's minds, so that would be tough to top. Leto was going to have to take the character in a different direction if he was going to stand out? Did he do that? I guess, but he didn't really do anything all that interesting with the role at all. The Joker just felt like a generic bad guy.

I also think that, with the exception of the flashback scenes, the character felt pretty perfunctory in this movie. I'm not entirely sure what he added to the story other than that.

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn - She was probably the perfect choice for this part. She's a very pretty woman, but she's also able to pull off crazy pretty well with that wide smile of hers. It was pretty clear that she looked to the character's original portrayal in Batman: The Animated Series for inspiration. (And you actually get to see her in the original outfit! And you quickly realize why they changed it.)

I think that we can blame the issues with The Joker on the fact that the movie had Harley in it, as her origin is so tied to that character. Still, Robbie's portrayal was interesting enough that I think that they could have had her merely hint at her origins.

Will Smith as Deadshot - I don't know too much about the character, but I liked Smith's portrayal. He's always pretty likable, and he was a good choice if they were going to make at least one of these villains have a bit of a heart. I'd be really happy to see more of him in other DC films.

I don't think that this is the sort of movie that will win over people who normally don't like comic book movies. It might even turn off a lot of people who like what Marvel has been putting out over the past decade. As I said, I get the negative reviews, and it's a bit of a mess toward the end. Still, there was enough for this comic book nerd to enjoy, and I hope to see it again (especially if there's a director's cut.)

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