Suicide Squad (2016)

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Director: David Ayer

Cast: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood, Cara Delevigne

Screenplay: David Ayer

123 mins. Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language.

 

I’m not the first person to say that the DCEU has had a rough time of it trying to build a shared universe of films. After Green Lantern failed to ignite the franchise, Man of Steel hit with mixed reviews, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice got destroyed by fans and critics alike. Then, Suicide Squad was released to…drumroll, please…negative reviews. It hasn’t been easy for DC. Now, it took me some time to get to Suicide Squad just out of pure frustration with the film but I had some interesting views on it.

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After the death of Superman, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis, TV’s How to Get Away With Murder, The Help), an intelligence operative, puts forth a plan to assemble a team, Task Force X, led by Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman, TV’s The Killing, Child 44). When Flag’s girlfriend June Moone (Cara Delevigne, Paper Towns, Pan) is overtaken by a supernatural evil entity called The Enchantress who wishes to unleash a hellish future upon the Earth, Task Force X is called to action to stop her. The team, consisting of Deadshot (Will Smith, Men in Black, Concussion), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Legend of Tarzan), and other criminals imprisoned at Belle Reve Prison, assemble to save the day…and plan their escape.

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I was extremely hesitant to the idea that Will Smith was the central focus of all the members of the Suicide Squad. I didn’t like the idea of the entire movie forming around Smith, who hasn’t been able to carry an action film in some time. After seeing the performance, I take it back. Will Smith’s Deadshot is the most accessible character, a man doing bad things¬†for the best intentions. His arc is one of the more interesting and successfully engaging in the film.

As for Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie owns the scenes that feature her. Robbie’s was one of the more anticipated for the film and another extremely workable and engaging performance. As for her relationship with The Joker (Jared Leto, Requiem for a Dream, Dallas Buyers Club), it isn’t one that people should pine for. Everyone seems to think that Harley Quinn is a strong empowered woman when really, she is the furthest from, at least in this film. Harley Quinn is broken, insisting that she belongs to The Joker, her Puddin’, and that she would do anything for him. The Joker’s master manipulation is what turned her into what she is: an obedient, sexually exploited, pet. Now, an interesting character indeed, but nothing that women should look to for empowerment.

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Let’s talk about The Joker while we are here, and one of the major problems of the film. Now, I must say that Jared Leto is absolutely amazing in the film, and for the time we see him, I left wanting more, and there’s a reason for that. Leto’s performance takes mere hints from Heath Ledger’s The Dark Knight portrayal and Jack Nicholson’s Batman incarnation, as well as Cesar Romero’s Batman: The Movie from the 1960s. But Leto took a step further, going full method. Stories from the set of dead pigs being shipped as gifts are only scraping the surface of where he takes the character. So what’s not to like? The major problem with The Joker in the movie? He isn’t in it. He barely appears, which would be fine, but the fact that he was cut mostly from the film is a slap in the face to the great work Leto provides.¬†Jared Leto created enemies on set with his batshit work, and there’s nothing to show for it. And it isn’t just him. The entire film suffers in the same way that Batman v Superman does. It feels like a collection of great scenes that don’t fit together. You get the sense that Suicide Squad was gutted even before hearing it confirmed.

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The rest of Task Force X? There is some pretty solid work from Jai Courtney (Divergent, Terminator Genisys) as Captain Boomerang and Adelwale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Trumbo) as Killer Croc (another horribly slashed character who just isn’t given enough to do). Jay Hernandez (Hostel, Bad Moms) does the best he can, but his character just isn’t that well written.

Lastly, we touch on The Enchantress. Cara Delevigne does the best she can, but her villain has no motivation. I spent half the movie just trying to figure out what damn machine she is building, what she is trying to accomplish, and exactly what her minions were. They kind of looked like poop demons covered in hot tar and became mindless drones.

Something very fascinating that the DCEU is attempting to do with this shared universe is how connected it is. Batman v Superman is a direct sequel to Man of Steel, and Suicide Squad inciting incident revolves around a key moment from BvS. I enjoy that each film heavily influences the others.

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The tone of Suicide Squad isn’t perfect, but the film is a lot of fun to watch, which makes up for a lot of the shortcomings around it. I enjoyed it for the most part, but I cannot deny the glaring issues in pacing, editing, and writing that stared me in the face the entire time. For me, however, at least the DCEU is going in the right direction. I found myself liking BvS more than Man of Steel, and Suicide Squad was an increase in quality as well. Issues, yes, there are plenty, but Wonder Woman looks poised to take the quality a further notch up the scale, so overall, at least Suicide Squad was fun. Right?

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

#SpoilerAlert: did anyone else see Harley Quinn’s rap sheet at the beginning says she assisted in the death of Robin? What was that all about?

 

 

For my review of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, click here.

For my review of Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, click here.

[Batman Day] Batman: The Movie (1966)

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Director: Leslie H. Martinson
Cast: Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwether, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin
Screenplay: Lorenzo Semple Jr.
105 mins. Approved.
I first saw the original Batman: The Movie (yeah, before Michael Keaton) about ten years ago. It was in the height of serious Batman Christian Bale’s reign as the caped crusader, and so I didn’t look upon the film too fondly. This year, I took the initiative to look back on Batman: The Movie in honor of Batman Day. Did my thoughts on the film change?
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In the film, the dynamic duo themselves, Batman (Adam West, TV’s Family Guy, Meet the Robinsons) and Robin (Burt Ward, Moving Target, Beach Babes from Beyond) are tasked with defeating four supervillains in their devious plan to use a weapon capable of dehydrating people to hold the world ransom. Batman finds himself emotionally involved when The Catwoman (Lee Meriwether, TV’s Barnaby Jones, The Ultimate Gift) disguises herself as a helpless damsel in distress to lure him in. As The Penguin (Burgess Meredith, Rocky, Grumpier Old Men) sets his plot in motion, the caped crusader finds himself fending off sharks and ridding Gotham of bombs. Can Batman defeat the foes? Or will he find himself in deeply dehydrating water?
Camp for the sake of camp. The 1960s saw Batman as a silly and over-the-top representation of truth, justice, and the American way. The 1960s were also a pretty confusing and sometimes scary time period. The world didn’t need villains. We already had them. What the world needed was an escape from the real. And, with Batman: The Movie, they got it.
The first season of the Batman television series has finished, and the producers decided to hit upon a movie’s budget to increase their usuable bat gadgets, a pretty genius idea all said and done. It’s what helps make the later seasons of the show stay exciting and fresh.
Adam West and Burt Ward play off each other really well, and it is their chemistry that drives the film. Both actors play the material as seriously as possible, and it makes the fun moments of cheese work so much better than playing them for comedy. And the screenplay itself, from screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. (Papillon, Flash Gordon) knows exactly what it needs to be.
From the rogues gallery, I particularly liked The Joker (Cesar Romero, The Little Princess, The Thin Man) and Meredith’s The Penguin. They have the most fun in role and absolutely steal their scenes.
Now, the film has some definite lagging issues in Act 2. By and large the best parts of the film are the Shark fight on the Bat Copter and the Bomb Chase sequence. The ending of the film falls flat too and isn’t all that memorable.
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From the film’s winning score to some truly unique visuals, Batman: The Movie is an interesting time capsule of a time we may never see again (though an upcoming DC animated film looks to see the return of the 60s Caped Crusader). It’s a lot of fun and has the potential to be a great passing of the torch for young viewers just getting into Batman and Robin.
3.5/5
-Kyle A. Goethe

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