As many of you know, I loooove my superhero movies. So if you’re one of those folks who’s all like, “There’s too many of them now,” just know that I’m quietly judging you.
So let’s talk about the young DC cinematic universe that was kickstarted back in 2013 with the release of the Superman film, MAN OF STEEL. I loved this movie. I thought it was a more grounded take on the superhero and an update on the character himself. It did to Superman what Christopher Nolan’s BATMAN BEGINS did for Batman. It was an awesome flick. The second film in this universe was BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. Many of you might recall my review of the film: I didn’t think it was good. I thought Jesse Eisenberg was uninspired, so much of the story made absolutely no sense, the action could have been a ton better, and the ending ruined a lot of really cool future ideas that other reviewers that I respect brought to my attention, particularly the crossover review with Youtube’s Nostalgia Critic and Angry Joe. Check it out, it’s really funny.
It was a box office success, but it was brutalized by fans and critics alike. I won’t say it was completely awful, though. I loved Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman (for the most part), and Jeremy Irons as Alfred. But the backlash and unanimously negative opinions clearly went in one of DC’s ears and they kept that shit locked in so it wouldn’t go out the other. New heads were brought on board and most everything is proclaiming that these new guys will save the DCCU. Hell, already people are taking a huge liking to the trailer for WONDER WOMAN and the clips from JUSTICE LEAGUE that were previewed at ComicCon.
But for now, we have this addition. Everyone seems pretty split right now, don’t they? The critics don’t seem to like it, early viewings for fans seem to love it. Hell, did you know about the petition to shut down RottenTomatoes.com for their negative reviews of the film? Oh my god, I may not be the biggest fan of the site myself, they’re way too brutal on anything short of an art-house film, but I am a firm believer that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If critics don’t like a movie, then fine, critics don’t like a movie. It’s not the first time movie-goers have disagreed with critics and you can bet your asses it won’t be the last. All that truly matters to me is that your opinion isn’t as simple as, “It was just stupid. I don’t know why, it was just stupid,” or, “It was awesome! Because it was just fucking awesome!” Yeah, that’s not how expressing an opinion works. There’s always reasons why you like or dislike something, and in order for an opinion to really be valid, you need to come up with well-thought-out reasons for it. If you clearly express why, then you’re entitled to it. But just screaming in protest because you’re a petulant child isn’t expressing an opinion, it’s throwing a tantrum.
But now it’s time to address my initial thoughts of the movie. It reunites FOCUS co-stars Will Smith and Margot Robbie in the respective rolls of Deadshot and Harley Quinn. I love Smith and really enjoy Robbie’s work. This extends to the rest of the cast too. Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Viola Davis, and Cara Delevingne is a promising new actress. But what I’m really excited for within the cast is, you guessed it, Jared Leto as the Joker. Say what you want about his appearance (I admit, I had mixed feelings too), but there has never been a bad Joker in the history of the character. Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Mark Hamill, Kevin Michael Richardson, John DiMaggio, everyone’s brought their own unique and amazing flare to the character, and Leto has proven to be one of the wildest of wildcard actors that Hollywood’s got. This is what I’m seeing the movie for.
Even writer/director David Ayer doesn’t seem like a bad choice, what with solid works like FURY and STREET KINGS, the highly acclaimed END OF WATCH, and the bad but entertaining SABOTAGE under his belt, he actually seems like a director who knows what story he wants to tell and that he can bring something unique to the superhero franchise. So I guess I’m leaning more in the direction of this movie being good. I’ve not always agreed with critics and I’ve not always agreed with movie-goers, but I won’t know where I stand unless I see the movie, right? Is this band of misfits and criminals worth the price of admission? This is my honest opinion of SUICIDE SQUAD.
Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is a government official who’s rounded up some of the worst and most dangerous criminals in the world, including, but not limited to the deadliest hitman known as Deadshot (Will Smith), the Joker’s equally insane girlfriend and former psychiatrist Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the horribly mutated human turned part reptilian Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and others. But now, a disaster has struck the city. Archaeologist June Moone (Cara Delevingne) uncovered an artifact that held the spirit of an old witch known simply as The Enchantress. June accidentally opens the artifact and is subsequently possessed by her. The only way to control Enchantress is to hold her heart, which Waller found. But the control didn’t last as Enchantress manages to locate her brother and releases him onto the city. Aware of Enchantress escaping, Amanda attempts to destroy Enchantress’ heart, but isn’t fast enough as Enchantress’ brother manages to sustain her life. Unable to accept that humanity worships machines instead of them, Enchantress wants to create her own machine to dominate the world. Waller then assembles a squad of those dangerous inmates of her prison, led by the tough and patriotic soldier Rick Flag, who is also June’s lover, to do battle against Enchantress and her growing army of mutated humans.
Summed up, I went in with high expectations. It didn’t quite meet the expectations, but it didn’t fall too short of it. So I think the movie is okay leaning more in the direction of good, but it’s far from perfect.
I think I’ll start by addressing the proclaimed reason why I went in to the movie, Leto as the Joker. I don’t think this was a very good performance. Oh man, it was underwhelming. Yeah yeah, I know what I said, and I still stick to it. Leto isn’t bad per se, but… I don’t think it was a very inspired interpretation of the character. It felt like he was trying to convey Ledger’s performance. He whispers his lines, squeals others, screams a few, and occasionally laughs. In that respect, he’s almost like Eddie Redmayne’s character from JUPITER ASCENDING. I suppose it is interesting to finally see an on screen portrayal of him established as a crime lord inside his hideout and surrounded by his subordinates. I guess in some ways, I was also hoping that the way he was dressed, like a pimp, was just promotional images. Joker’s always had his purple suit. To see him dressed like he’s flaunting his riches feels a tad out of character. One would think that he would flaunt how much fun he’s having being him and being destructive instead of being this flashy and… traditional. But I find it hard to close myself off to Leto’s performance entirely. At the end of the day, his role in this is bigger than most may realize, but he’s still not a main character, really. He hasn’t been given the lime-light to let his insanity shine through. It’s entirely possible that the character was just written in without that kind of wiggle room. I’m keeping my reservations until Affleck’s solo Batman film comes out before freaking out. The true test of any Joker interpretation is how he interacts with Batman.
Now let’s talk about Harley Quinn. Don’t mistake me, I’m not about to judge the character for dressing skimpy. Harley’s been dressed that way both in the comics and the Arkham video games. What I do complain about is that she flaunts that too. I don’t know, I’ve read a lot of the INJUSTICE comics and Harley, while incredibly flirtatious, has never really flaunted her sexuality. She dresses the part, acts the part, but never flaunts the part. I guess it’s not much of a graduation and it’s probably a wonder why she’s never done it before, but… yeah, it’s a little too different for my taste. And isn’t Harley not supposed to be as crazy as Joker? If I recall, she’s simply obsessively in love with Joker and never took a dive in the chemicals that made him what he is. But I give credit to Robbie, when she’s not being obvious about her looks, she has the same mannerisms as every incarnation of the character I’ve seen. She’s playful, smiley, nuts, funny, and pretty bad-ass at times. I know I harped on that one aspect a lot, but I do overall think that she nailed the role. For future installments, a less sexual character would be welcomed. And I hate to sound like a high school teacher here, but… lose the gum. I thought the gum chewing was obnoxious and distracting.
Another standout was Enchantress. This is also a pretty mixed bag for me, but still leaning in the direction of liking. I thought the first design of her was great. She’s all ghostly and smokey, the glowing eyes, she looked really cool and creepy, like something straight out of a horror movie, and actually looks creepier than most monsters I’ve seen. Maybe taking a little too much inspiration from THE RING, but what doesn’t these days? I think one of the more creative aspects of her character is how she comes out of June when summoned. He blackened hand sort of just appears behind her hand, grabs it, and flips it over, and then it’s just Enchantress’ hand. Visually, I thought it was incredibly cool to watch that. Her second appearance… I don’t know, it sort of fell short in the “wow” factor. I know she’s supposed to look a little more regal, having once been worshiped as a god or whatever, but it’s a pretty forgettable look. But what sells the role as a whole is Delevingne herself. She plays dueling roles as June, a scared woman who is clearly afraid of Enchantress, but when she’s the witch, I have no problems accepting that she’s a force to be reckoned with. Her plans are generic, her motivations are generic, but Delevingne’s performance is pure gravity. She commands the screen with steel-piercing eyes and a voice that is just hypnotic. Delevingne is a phenomenal actress that gave a two dimensional character some serious kick-assery.
Smith is cool and funny as always, Davis is hardcore and intimidating, phenomenal casting on that end, Courtney is hilarious, Jay Hernandez as Diablo was surprisingly awesome, Kinnaman is unfortunately pretty generic, but everyone ranges from serviceable to entertaining, which isn’t really a bad thing. It’s a big cast and sadly, we don’t get to know certain characters too well, like Killer Croc. He’s there to be the muscle of the group (to be fair, he does have one amazing line in the bar scene). Katana is there to be the bad-ass Asian, but again to be fair, this is Karen Fukuhara’s only film under her belt, so… impressive work for a first time out. Very convincing performance despite so little to work with.
I do also have to say that the story is average. I’m not sure if this was some kind of dream project for Ayer or what, but while the characters he writes are pretty enjoyable, he does seem to toss an inspired story to the curb. A group of people try to stop a powerful being from taking over the world. Um… that kind of describes ninety-nine percent of all superhero movies out there. Even if you wanted to use the phrase, “band of misfits,” then I’d say, “GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.” Maybe that’s why a lot of people like this movie so much because, now that I’m thinking about it, this does seem to be DC’s answer to that movie. Not nearly as good, but still enjoyable and its own thing. Still, I didn’t get a real sense of danger or great stakes if they failed. I mean, it’s not like Batman, Wonder Woman, and Flash aren’t around to take on Enchantress. Speaking of which, where are those guys while all this is happening? For that matter, where was anybody? When did the city get completely evacuated? Who wants to bet that the events here won’t be referenced in any future DC movie? Oh well.
I can see why the critics hate it, but I don’t agree. I can see why fans love it, I don’t agree either. But I can see that everyone working on the project felt passion for it, as quite a few of the cast have spoken out about the critical reception. Most of those that have were upset, a couple have been level-headed. But everyone as of late when it comes to their adaptations have been taking things way too far. I don’t think it’s good form for cast and crew of a movie to be up in arms about critics’ opinions because rarely does anyone agree with them anyway. It’s the entertainment industry, it’s practically designed for the expression of and reaction to opinions. Just keep it grounded, folks. They’re just movies and comics. It’s fun to rave and rage about stuff, but let’s not attack, discriminate, or alienate those with different opinions. Pretty sure we have a couple of presidential hopefuls that’ll have enough segregative hatred to have us covered on that. No one made this movie to cause a war. They created it to bring people together to have fun and enjoy themselves for a couple hours. So let’s follow suit.
On the whole, I do think that the movie is kind of average, but I still enjoyed myself (the theme of the review). Some scenes dragged on for a bit, and some characters may be a little too different than previous interpretations, but I don’t regret seeing it. I had fun. I do recommend it, but don’t expect anything high concept or overly deep. It’s a fun, silly film and it’s worth the time and money.
My honest opinion: a strong 3/5
- NINE LIVES
- trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jHA97HzhxE
Upcoming hopeful reviews:
- DON’T THINK TWICE
- trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RFTpObS95U
- THE HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE