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Suicide Squad

tn_suicidesquadFor many years, Warner Brothers had pretty good luck making Batman and Superman movies. With SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE they pretty much invented the comic book movie. With BATMAN they reinvigorated it. Sure, there were those Joel Schumacher movies that put the whole venture in peril, but then they took the genre to the next level when they let Christopher Nolan start over and do his very successful and influential trilogy. They’ve had more hits than misses, I think.

But now the rival Marvel Comics company has their whole interconnected movie universe thing, and everybody’s gonna be jealous of their neighbor’s sports car, I guess, so WB is trying to do one of those for DC Comics. So far this has caused excitement followed by disappointment.

But the upside is that because they’re desperate to show off all these characters they own they went for the cool idea of SUICIDE SQUAD, a comic where a bunch of the villains from other comics are taken out of prison and forced on dangerous missions for the government, DIRTY DOZEN or Snake Plissken style. Popular bad guy characters are able to be enjoyed as anti-heroes, and get some amount of redemption for that time when they tried to rob a bank but the Flash caught them or whatever. The movie version is written and directed by David Ayer. That’s the guy who used to be known for writing TRAINING DAY, but more recently he’s come into his own as a writer/director with END OF WATCH, SABOTAGE and FURY. He can also brag that he has a writing credit on THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS.

This is gonna be a mildly positive review. On a scale of 1-10 I give it a “not as frustrating as BATMAN V SUPERMAN.” But I’m gonna get the negatives out of the way first, and there are more than a few.

I guess maybe I shouldn’t have watched the cartoon version first, because it showed you can do this same premise with clean, economical storytelling. In not much more than half the running time it seems like it develops its characters more and gives them more to do. The structure of SUICIDE SQUAD is like a bunch of pieces of movies stacked up really high so they almost tip over. After a brief, pretty effective introduction of the prison we meet scary government lady Amanda Waller (Viola Davis, from the Jesse Stone movies) explaining the Task Force X black-ops-team-of-super-villain-convicts concept to a military guy over dinner.

mp_suicidesquadIt’s not just expositional dialogue, but her narrating little vignettes about Deadshot (Will Smith, SEVEN POUNDS), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie, THE LEGEND OF TARZAN), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney, JACK REACHER), Diablo (Jay Hernandez, CARLITO’S WAY: RISE TO POWER), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, BULLET TO THE HEAD), Enchantress (Cara Delevingne, Luc Besson’s upcoming VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS), and also “the greatest Special Ops soldier America has ever created,” Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman, ROBOCOP remake), who will be in charge of the team. It’s not quite as clunky as BATMAN V SUPERMAN’s “Wonder Woman watches videos about different characters on a laptop” tangent, but it sure feels wrong to have all this stacked up at the beginning of the movie instead of worked into the story. When the actual team learns that they’re a team it’s at least 20 minutes in, and it feels like they finally got to the natural opening scene.

Then Flag goes through the prison and gathers the team. In UNCOMMON VALOR, HIT! and other great movies of this subgenre this would be where we would learn about each of them, and in this case I feel the traditional way would be vastly superior to the weird way they chose.

Another thing that seems odd right away: one of the team members, Slipknot (Adam Beach from WINDTALKERS all the sudden looking pretty badass), was not mentioned or given a backstory by Waller, and then they (SPOILER) use him for something like the cartoon did to KGBeast. He tries to run and they kill him. But there is a bit of a struggle first and then it’s kind of unclear what happens to him so it doesn’t have the same humorous bluntness. They completely flub the joke, forgetting to do the setup and then telling the punchline wrong.

As in the cartoon (and comic I think) the convicts are taken out of their cells, have mini-bombs implanted in them and are forced to go on a supposed suicide mission, this time under the supervision of Flag, some Navy SEALs (including Clint Eastwood’s lookalike son Scott, TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE, TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D) and Katana (Karen Fukuhara), a Japanese badass with a haunted sword. (I admire the matter-of-fact, no-joking-about-it explanation that the sword contains the souls of her vanquished enemies and her dead husband.)

So, we’ve already heard who the members of the team are gonna be, with special emphasis on the mighty powers of “the witch,” Enchantress, who was an archaeologist who got possessed by an ancient being but she’s in love with Flag and she can control it sometimes and Amanda Waller found her heart in a cave and keeps it in a briefcase to stab with a pen if she gets out of line (long story). Just what kind of mission would they need this team for?

Well, Enchantress found a thing and used it to resurrect her brother as a big rampaging monster because she says she’s going to build a machine to destroy the world!

Wait, what? I don’t know. I suppose there’s a fitting symbolism to the snake-eating-its-tail-ness of a team created to fight the threat created by the creation of the team, but it’s an unsatisfying starting point for a men-and-women-on-a-mission movie.

The mission mostly involves shooting thousands of bullets (and some fire and what not) at people turned into monsters, plus the two main monsters. This actually seems like one of those cases where you gonna call the Ghostbusters. Task Force X have no knowledge or expertise in magical shit, so the only reason to use them is the suicide part. That they’re expendables. But wouldn’t it be a better story if they were chosen because the mission specifically required their unique talents? This would go along with Waller’s search for “meta-humans” (although I’m not sure how throwing boomerangs, shooting guns or having fallen in acid once count as super powers).

One of the few times when a super power is totally appropriate – Croc can lead the SEALs through an underwater tunnel – he does it against Flag’s objections!

The mission is an aspect where the cartoon is clearly superior. In that one they get to go around to different locations, use their criminal connections, wear disguises, play tricks, with more twists and turns, more like a spy movie. This Suicide Squad just moves through a dark chunk of evacuated, partly destroyed city, shooting at monsters.

And I’m sorry to report that the action is almost uniformly muddled, lots of darkness and confusing closeups that made me wonder if some of it was shot in Imax and cropped. I was surprised to notice on the credits that it has the same stunt coordinator and second unit director as FURY ROAD, Guy Norris. The best action shots, like the funniest lines, were burned in the trailers.

Speaking of which, The Hollywood Reporter hollywood reports that “while Ayer pursued his original vision, Warners set about working on a different cut, with an assist from Trailer Park, the company that had made the teaser.” Maybe they improved something, maybe they ruined it, I obviously don’t know. But I think we can safely assume that that explains the movie’s most annoying stylistic quirk: the constant use of the beginning of songs, like a kickass musical montage is about to begin, that then abruptly cut off before going anywhere. It definitely seems like the work of people who only know how to edit trailers and not actual scenes. It’s like they scored the movie with the song samples on the Amazon page for the soundtrack.

Oh shit, that article makes it sound like the studio came up with that ridiculous structure: “The studio-favored version with more characters introduced early in the film and jazzed-up graphics won.” Whoops. That may also explain why the whole concept of the mission makes no sense. They probly made Enchantress a member of the team in order to mention her in the info dump pre-story-beginning section of the movie. I bet she was a separate project that got out of control, thus creating the need for Task Force X.

I read elsewhere that they cut out scenes of the Joker (Jared Leto, URBAN LEGEND) being abusive to Harley, to make it seem like a more “loving” relationship. If so it doesn’t work out since she’s a psychiatrist who a serial killer brainwashes, gives shock therapy to and convinces to jump into acid. Originally he would’ve pushed her out of the helicopter to kill her, ironically saving her because he gets shot down immediately after. Later he would’ve shown up to “rescue” her but she would choose her new friends over him, which sounds like one of those story arc things they mostly forgot are good to put in this movie. It’s hard to imagine the Ayer version not at least flowing better and making more sense.

But here’s why SUICIDE SQUAD still kinda works for me: I really like all these characters and the actors who play them. Robbie is the breakaway – is it fair to call it a star-making performance, even though we already knew who she was? She embodies a living cartoon, her humor and charm overpowering the potentially annoying “ain’t I fucked up?” aspect of the character (even though all her best lines were in the trailers). I’ve seen some people trying to take down the character as… problematic or whatever, which is fine if you need fictional characters, including anti-heroes, to be great role models and live ideal, inspirational lifestyles. I think Ms. Quinn is compelling and relatable because she’s a tragic character and a mess. She’s a victim who is struggling and often not succeeding in overcoming her circumstances. Would’ve been more satisfying with that intended ending, of course, but I’m not gonna deny the relatability of someone drawn to the person who hurts her. Obviously they intend this to be an ongoing series, and we will root for her to get out of that relationship.

Getting mad about that to me feels more judgmental than productive. But WB does deserve some scorn if they really thought they could re-edit an abusive relationship into a romance.

Smith has maybe his most successful version of a tough, streetwise kind of character, with a sweet (if obvious) relationship with his daughter and a funny rivalry with an asshole prison guard (Ike Barinholtz). Captain Boomerang doesn’t do much, but Courtney feels more alive and energized than in other movies, and gets to use an Australian accent. Killer Croc I couldn’t understand most of what he said, but it was still funny to have an crocodile dude walking around.

The sleeper is El Diablo, who initially seems like a half-assed idea for a super villain (face-tattooed Latin gangster stereotype with firestarter powers) but proves to be the most deeply felt character. He’s the only one that’s honest about the concept of a super villain trying to do good in the world. Even Deadshot’s adorable daughter eventually brushes off the fact that he’s a murderer, but El Diablo never forgets it. He seems like he was a low level criminal using his unique talents, then a literal explosion of violence at home ruined his life in a way he can never get past. He has real reason to be ashamed of himself and not want to use his powers.

And Davis brings scary authenticity to a character that seems to believe she’s doing the right thing for the world but plays dirtier than any of the so-called super villains she’s messing with.

There are moments where the squad show friendship or sympathy for each other, sometimes with just a look, that go a long way. When we see Harley hide her grieving with her usual silly/crazy shtick, and the others pick up on it but don’t say anything and make her feel appreciated, somehow it’s genuinely touching within all this mess. I also think Kinnaman and Smith pull off the classic/cliche arc of the guys who hate each other but gain respect and friendship over the course of working together.

This reinterpretation of the Joker, with ugly tattoos and silver teeth, has been controversial. I like it. With his thin frame and meticulous fashion he’s almost more traditional a Joker than we’ve had in live action before, but then he kinda decorates himself like Alien in SPRING BREAKERS and does weird-for-the-sake-of-weird shit like paint an extra smile around his mouth. Yes, he’s easy to hate. He should be. My only complaint is that at times I think Leto gets too close to the voice Heath Ledger used.

There are some moments of great visual imagination in the Joker scenes. I like the shot of him laying on the floor circled by hundreds of carefully placed knives, some baby clothes (?), a white piano, etc., like his version of the “look at my shit” scene. Or the gorgeous image of the Joker and Harley kissing in a pool of acid with swirls of color floating off of them like a pan of melted crayons. And I like that his gang, for some reason, wears panda masks, and possibly an official Batman cartoon merchandise mask I believe. Why not? I wish the story structure was cleaner, but I wouldn’t mind more of this crazy shit for color.

This is for sure: the world and attitude of SUICIDE SQUAD capture some of that promise of why you would hire Ayer in the first place. He amps up the rowdy macho-punk (S.W.A.T. Topic?) posturing of SABOTAGE and stirs in cartoon aesthetics that none of the other modern DC films would touch with a twenty five foot pole (Harley Quinn and her “Puddin”? Captain Boomerang? Killer Croc?) to create a unique sort of winky fake-edginess that stands out from other comic book films, or non comic book films for that matter. And that’s worth something.

And it’s possible that he even made a movie worthy of this style and these characters. We’ll never know unless they decide to release it some day. Until then we can watch this two hour and ten minute trailer collection and dream.

NOTE: In this Collider interview Ayer maintains that “this cut of a movie is my cut, there’s no sort of parallel universe version of the movie, the released movie is my cut.”

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, August 8th, 2016 at 11:21 am and is filed under Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

128 Responses to “Suicide Squad”

  1. Yup, great characters, and some great little moments can be found in the madness that is the flurry of re-shoots and re-cuts and god alone knows what else.

    If you look online you’ll find a list of (supposedly) all the major edits that took place. If it’s true then for sure then Ayer’s edit was certainly darker and, it would appear, more coherent and straightforward.

    I truly hope we do get to see Ayer’s original version somewhere down the line i.e. blu ray in few months, hopefully.

    It seems clear that test audiences found the Joker/Harley relationship too much, and trying to “fix” that seems to have snowballed into us getting what we got.

    Such a shame that, in trying to please everybody, they’ve ended up pleasing very few, and in the process neutered what could have been a very interesting film indeed.

    (I also find it hard to believe Ayer came up with that ending, but you never know).

    *Fave moments: Deadshot standing on the police car and all the Army guys stopping, one by one, to admire how beautiful he is at killing; the little calm before the storm beats near the end before they all fight Not Gozer; Katana’s introduction, which although edited almost into incoherence had a real energy to it.

  2. I actually think I prefer Batman v Superman to Suicide Squad. BvS was an ambitious failure. There were about a million ways that film could have gone off track, so I’m not surprised it did. But Suicide Squad should have been a slam dunk. How do you fuck up a brilliant premise like the Dirty Dozen with supervillains? There are so many examples of the genre done right, but somehow the film whiffs it. And I’m not much of an Ayers fan, but I thought his sensibilities could have really worked for this film.

    The actors give this film more than they got back from it. Without Will Smith, Viola Davis, Margot Robbie and the rest, this film wouldn’t have been an even bigger waste. Also, poor Adam Beach. He deserved better. At the very least they could have better executed his death. He isn’t mentioned until it was time for them to suit up. Try to at least hide your hand, Ayers.

  3. Even though I seem to be the only one in the world who thinks the Comic Con “I Started a Joke” trailer was the best one, and wish the movie itself had more of that melancholy, hopeless tone, I liked this one alot. It’s fast-paced and fun, it doesn’t wear out its welcome, and has great characters that I connected with more than most of the MCU ones. (I actually think Flagg is kind of an awesome Tommy Lee Jones-style badass even though nobody else does). It’s obviously better than Sabotage or Street Kings but it’s also the best, most accessible DCU movie so far (the packed crowd of kids in the theatre absolutely loved it).

    Quinn is an instant classic and even though seeing the cartoon version first set expectations about how her relationship with The Joker would go, I actually like the unusual direction it went in. *SPOILERS* I was so positive he came to “rescue” her just to kill her, and actually found it weirdly sweet that he actually did go through all that trouble to save her (in this edit). Also in that flashback with Common, any other movie would just have the Joker kill him in a jealous rage for staring at Harley’s ass or something. Here the Joker legitimately wants to share her with him – it’s dark and weird and not something you’d expect to see in a summer comic book movie. And you’re right, when Quinn (hopefully) turns on him in the eventual Batman solo movie, it’s going to be awesome.

    BTW, Vern – you might like Focus, the Margot Robbie/Will Smith con-man comedy. I saw it right after Suicide Squad and was blown away by how much chemistry they have. They definitely have more onscreen heat than Jennifer Lawrence/Bradley Cooper and I hope they keep making more movies together (Focus also has an eye-rolling needle-drop of Sympathy for the Devil, even though it actually makes a meta joke about how obvious its usage is)

  4. Haven’t seen this yet, tomorrow hopefully, but I was making jokes months back about how many think-pieces we were going to get on Harley Quinn and how she’s not a role model. The ones that make me laugh (and confused me) are the ones that complain that she is sexualized in the movie and even in the kid’s cartoon she was created for, she’s always been sexualized. I even kind of hate to bring it up because it gives assholes an excuse to use the old tired bullshit ‘fake nerd girl’ arguments. But Quinn was never a hero or role model so I don’t know why her fans(?) expect/demand that she be one here.

    neal: I too really liked that “I Started a Joke” trailer but I was always fine with the DC cinematic universe being the dour and self-serious one when no one else was.

  5. I’d agree this was better than Batman v. Superman. All the themes and issues that movie sets up just fall apart into silliness by the end. At least this movie, even if it goes how all these superhero seem to have to go at the end with a big final battle with something shooting into the sky and the world at stake, has a clearer and coherent through line for the post 9/11 allegory element to all these movies. There are major threats to America, but overzealousness and conflating yourself and your self-righteousness with the actual right thing to do leads only to massive blow-back and more dangerous existential threats emerging. This comes through most clearly with Viola Davis’ character, but the generals are manipulated by this too. From a logical point of view, her quip about enchantress’ and getting them those Iranian files has nothing to do with the point they made against her plans, but they’re too enticed by the power of the tools she is offering up). They stay true to that and only develop it more over time, which leads naturally into the post-credits scene.

    The whole team bonding as a unit this movie is non-existent. When Diablo says that line at the end about how they are all his family, it’s not earned at all. Outside of some shots of people looking at eachother, there’s no story development to it either, it just happens because the plot needs it to happen. They badly needed a Dirty Dozen type sequence to actually convince me that these characters came together. (I get it’s a flashback from Diablo’s memory, but I had to roll my eyes at how Diablo burns a loved one alive, yet when he’s holding her, she’s completely unburned at all. What she died from the smoke? An R-rating would’ve done more to further this movie’s impact, it’s like they knew they had to make a tradeoff between violence or cursing, and because they wanted the movie to appeal to teens they picked cursing over violence.)

    I also chuckled at how Will Smith–I wonder if he got this changed from original plans–was the maybe most heroic, strict moral code, and charming “super villain” who really loves his daughter in all these movies almost right from the jump.

  6. Regarding the Joker, I’m a bit torn. The Joker has some of the best and most memorable imagery in the movie. On the other hand, I’m not too crazy about Leto’s characterization. It seemed too self-consciously showy to me. This Joker is more of a mob boss than Ledger’s murderous, psychotic clown, but it didn’t fully work for me, maybe because it seemed like Leto tried to menacing, but he wasn’t menacing at all. I wasn’t crazy about the laugh he did either, it seemed kind of sympotmatic of the overly performative but not quite compelling performance as a whole. I’ll be curious if we get to see more Joker scenes on the bluray, which may confirm whether this was a problem that they partly edited to avoid or if they harmed Leto, the character, and maybe this movie as a whole by having less screen time than we were led to believe.

  7. Brian – yeah I kept expecting Deadshot to be more of a cold-hearted villain, but he’s no more of a villain than say, Snake Plissken (who as we saw in Escape from LA would have blown away the abusive guard with no hesitation). In fact, hardly any of them really seem like the worst of the worst, even though apparently Harley’s onscreen graphic (that was impossible to read like all of them) said she assisted in the murder of Robin. As much as I like the movie I wish it had a little more of that edge where you don’t know if you want to root for these people.

    Speaking of which, even though offended think-pieces and calling everything “problematic” will eventually be the end of art and culture as we know it, I actually have to say there’s irony in that a comic book supervillain like Harley should obviously not be viewed as a role model, but at the same time she’s also kind of an awesome role model. She handles herself in a fight, she doesn’t need a man’s help, and she never gives up, even in a hopeless fight against Batman. Plus I think it’s actually kind of an empowering message that Waller and the government consider a simple woman with a baseball bat in the same league and just as dangerous as the rest of the Squad. Quinn’s the only one without a “power” or a gimmick yet she’s the one who ends up saving the day.

  8. Also, as Vern pointed out, we are not witnessing a fully formed character here. She’s only somewhere near the middle of her self-actualization process. When she figures out that she’s a badass motherfucker all on her own without some fucking crazy abusive fuckhead telling her she needs him, she’ll be everything thinkpiecers want her to be. But I’ve noticed that a lot of these people are not too interested in watching stories develop. They just want it the way they want it right from the jump. Which, you know, is kind the opposite of what drama is supposed to do. But I guess drama IS pretty problematic.

  9. Sometimes people want characters to be nothing more than symbols, but art’s messier and more interesting to fit the diagram some pop culture writers have in their heads. Harley Quinn didn’t bother me. The Bruce Timm animated episode that covers her origins is actually far more disturbing than what we got in the film.

    I do think the filmmakers want the character to be a symbol of third wave feminism as well as someone who’s in an abusive relations, which leads to some dumb choices. When we’re first introduced to Harley Quinn they play Leslie Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me,” and she has that “I sleep with who I want…” line. The characterization is poorly handled, but it’s also a mess of a movie.

    Also, I found the music choices really depressing. We’re really going to trod out “Spirit in the Sky” again? Really?

  10. The songs were really, really, really on-the-nose. The only one I thought was inspired was K7’s “Come Baby Come.” They easily could have gone with “Beat on the Brat” for that scene but they thought just slightly outside the box and came up with a winner.

  11. This movie seemed to have the same problem, for me, that most super hero movies have: a shit villain.

    Almost all the super hero movies have this great build up, super talented and likeable leads, and a nondescript villain with a 30 minute CGI dopey fight of a finale. And in the multi hero films, every hero gets their individual moment to help out and showcase their talents in the final fight. It’s so boring. I know it’s blasphemy but I disliked the Avengers movies for the same reason. Even the first Avengers, with as good as Loki was, got bogged down with a shitshow of a Transformers like monster fight.

    Like BvS I walked out of this saying “hey this wasn’t so bad” but the more I thought about it, I realize “well, yeah, it was.”

    The Joker on the other hand was interesting. At first I rolled my eyes, then I started to think “well this is kind of an interesting take.” Unfortunately, we don’t get enough of him to decide if Leto’s performance is a complete failure or fantastic.

    Will Smith is having more fun in titis than probably anything he’s done in ages. I was a little nauseated with how much they tried to turn him into a nice guy. We get it, he loves his kid. If you are going to make a movie about a group of villains, embrace it. By the end of the film, none of the bad guys were even bad, were they? There wasn’t a one of them who could b used as a villain in a superhero movie.

    Margot Robbie was just a ton of fun to watch. By far the best thing of the movie.

  12. I just don’t understand the purpose of putting really on the nose songs in a film. When I think about the best use of popular music in a film, it usually uses the song for ironic effect or, even better, shows the viewer a different side of the song. Lynch does this well. In Blue Velvet Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” isn’t used ironically. I think Lynch is highlighting the eerie, slightly surreal elements of that song, which I don’t think people would immediately recognize.

    Long story short, if I ever hear “Sympathy for the Devil” in a movie again, it will be too soon.

  13. Slashfilm wrote a great review (SPOILERS)

  14. From the beginning, this one seemed like an inherently unstable and probably off-base mash-up of inherently conflicting tonal and visual impulses. Tonally, it’s the whole Ayers dark, gritty, semi-bleak thing trying to mesh with the cutesy “How about us for a ragtag group of wacky but lovable ne’er do-wells?” antics. Visually, it’s a grim, smokey, burnt sienna-sepia noirish looking vibe colliding head-on with a gaggle of adults in Halloween costumes and garish primary colors. The trailers (and, from the sound of it, the movie itself) is trying to say all at once: “I’m gritty, dark, grim, colorful, wacky, madcap fun.” A true cinematic genius might be able to square that circle, but it just seems ridiculous on the face of it.

  15. With Nolan’s Batman trilogy I really cared about those characters and that mythology, and I was genuinely amped to see the last one. Dark Knight Rises I saw three times at the theater, which, just to give a benchmark: this year my theatrical experiences have been Creed (twice), Revenant, and Civil War. The first trailer for this one with “I started a joke” just seemed to somber and navel-gazing and the juxtaposition with Harley doing some kind of yoga gymnastics in her free-standing cell was a hair’s breadth from unintentional laughter. Then when they showed what basically seemed like the same trailer but set to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” I was like, so what the hell, is this a dark, self-serious nihilistic superhero film or fucking Wayne’s World (note: one of the trailers also used “Ballroom Blitz,” but I have not received any confirmations or denials as to whether Tia Carrere or Alice Cooper appear in the film). Then I heard they were going to reshoot scenes to make the film more like that trailer (and less dour generally, in the wake of BvS), I pretty much lost all respect for it.

    Say what you will about Nolan or the Marvel films, but there’s a level of coherence, vision, and steadiness, like there is really someone behind the wheel who has the bigger picture or mythology in mind and is thinking about the internal coherence of the film (again, visually, tonally, character motivations), and more often than not, the end result validates that vision and those instincts. Whatever is it, they’re doing, it usually works for me.

    Even this Justice League trailer gives me the willies. Cast seems fine (Mamoa is an inspired choice), but there is a tone-deaf and amateurish feel to it, like nouveau riche–just throwing money and big names and nostalgic properties into a blender and hoping something good comes out. The exchange between Batman and Flash in that trailer, just listen to Affleck’s affected Bruce Wayne cadence and delivery, it’s borderline parody of 50s square-jawed leading man meets Peter Graves in Airplane! And then ending the trailer with him saying “I hear you can talk to fish, and then doing that uber-mugging-it head tilt to the side. Sheesh. I know I am nitpicking. Every move seems like a calculated but ultimately hapless and reactive attempt to divine what the audience wants and then try to make it happen in the most literal, hamfisted over-correcty way. I fully acknowledge that this is based entirely on my repeated watching of the trailers (it’s a ritual with my kids), reading of the reviews, and then comparing them to the Marvel films and Nolan films, which I have watched. The confidence and overarching vision or “brand” is just no here in the way it was with the Nolan series or the Marvel films. It seems that these DC films can’t decide and commit, like they don’t have confidence in the stories they are trying to tell or just don’t have compelling stories to tell (hence, my blender comment).

    Someone convince me that BvS ultimate editions is worth my 3 hours. I’ve been teetering on the edge for three weeks, but I just can’t make myself pull the trigger. And I’ve downgraded Bourne 5 to a rental. Grim times, these.

  16. I hate to be a contrarian and I’ve liked her in every other movie she’s been in but I *really* did not care for Robbie’s portrayal of Harley Quinn. I think I just don’t like the character or this interpretation. It didn’t land for me, reminded me of every Hot Topic aficionado I avoided like the plague in high school.

  17. I was really looking forward to this one but it sounds like yet another example of studio interference ruining a movie, I’ll wait and see if there’s a director’s cut or something on blu ray.

  18. For better or worse Ayer stands by the cut in cinemas, and has suggested there will be no Director’s Cut on blu-ray but that there will be deleted scenes, so unfortunately it seems unlikely. We already knew we were getting an extended BvS before it was released. Maybe if it sells really well or something they’ll double-dip, I guess you never know.

  19. He’s obviously kissing ass in order to save his career.

    Quite sad to think that filmmaker would have to sit by and watch his movie be ruined then have to suck up the studio, but that’s Hollywood for you.

  20. Also known as “Not Trankin’ it”.

    But let’s be honest. Isn’t that rule #1 for every job? Don’t talk shit about your boss in public?

  21. Ayer must have known what he was getting into, just like Gareth Edwards. True, DC/Warners have garnered a slight reputation for giving directors a freer hand than Marvel, but that only means so much. Besides, SUICIDE SQUAD does still feel like a slightly neutered Ayer film, much in the same way GHOSTBUSTERS still feels like a Feig film and IRON MAN 3 feels like a Shane Black joint.

    Perhaps Trank really did feel like he would get to do what he wanted with FANT4STIC, as Fox seemed to want any film out there with those characters.

  22. George Sanderson

    August 9th, 2016 at 3:56 am

    Just saw this with my wife and we have never been so perplexed by a film. The storytelling and tone are all over the place, the editing in the first half of the film is almost non-sensical, we had no idea what the stakes were or what the villain’s plan was, and the dialogue, outside of a few Harley quips, was pretty poor.
    What messed with us the most, however, was the fact that we still enjoyed the film. It really says something about how engaging we found the majority of the cast (Smith, Robbie, and Hernandez were particularly good) and how much we enjoyed our time with the movie. The first half though, whew, what a mess.
    We thought the Enchantress was a poor choice for a villain. Her powers were seemingly limitless and completely undefined outside of being “magic” and where the hell did her brother come from?
    Still, I can’t hate or dislike it as it did have some cool moments and fun characters.

  23. “DC/Warners have garnered a slight reputation for giving directors a freer hand than Marvel”

    Do they? I mean, they have to obey a certain gameplan, which caused friction among Jon Favreau during IRON MAN 2 or Edgar Wright, when he finally finished a script that he started writing in the pre MCU days, but outside of these two, you never hear rumors about huge reshoots, endless studio notes or hours of tons of deleted scenes. OK, you could argue that this is because Marvel has such a tight grip on them, but all in all, they seem to be a pretty autheur friendly company.

  24. CJ – Thor 2’s original director quit and I think Joss Whedon quit after Avengers 2 because he didn’t particularly enjoy the studio interference. Also Incredible Hulk had a bunch of Edward Norton drama and a 3 hour cut out there somewhere (I’d argue it’s just as big a mess as Suicide Squad) But I think it’s a double-edged sword – Feige’s iron grip does give a sense of direction and uniformity (which is why I’m still shocked the rare times there’s retcons or inconsistencies in the MCU films), but at the same time I think that’s why most of these movies are kind of bland and forgettable. But I still think there’s room for auteurs over there- giving the keys to Thor 3 to the guy who made “What We Do in the Shadows” is not something a company does if they’re trying to play it safe.

    As for the DCEU, it’s too early to call it since we’re only 3 films in, but the two Zack Snyder movies unfortunately don’t feel anything like his previous movies (Man of Steel in particular seemed to be Snyder aping Nolan, Malick and Emmerich). And Suicide Squad obviously feels like neutered Ayer but I think that might be a good thing considering I haven’t enjoyed any of his movies until this one.

  25. Yeah, I am not sure what to make of Ayer. The only Ayer-directed joint I’ve watched was Sabotage, and although I liked Schwarzenegger’s performance and thought it had good potential in concept, it felt like it went way to overboard in trying to be on-the-nose raw and grim.

  26. Yeah, I forgot about their HULK movie, but most of the time I keep forgetting about it. Although in all fairness, that was their 2nd movie.
    But still, you can’t look at what Favreau, Branagh, Whedon, Gunn, Black, even Leterrier or The Russos did and tell me that their movies were all completely soulless and interchangable made-by-commitee work without any personal fingerprints all over it.

  27. Pretty weak sauce. Really, why waste everybody’s time if ya don’t have the sack to so much as follow thru on the concept. If you’re gonna do a *villain* movie, dammit DO A VILLIAN MOVIE!

  28. You have to respect Marvel’s brain trust. It takes some talent to manage all of these stories and characters across many films for eight years now. And I do think some of the earlier directors have their imprint on their particular Marvel film. Branagh gets to inject a little bit of his love of Shakespeare into the first Thor film. To see this, you just have to look at the characterization of Odin who is a complex and conflicted character in Thor 1, but turns into a one dimensional gruff asshole in Thor 2.

    But also compare the Marvel films to Raimi’s Spider-Man, Ang Lee’s Hulk, or Burton’s Batman. They used superhero movies as an excuse to make visually and tonally interesting films. I was hoping that DC might get back to that approach some. And they have in a way. There are some images that I like in Suicide Squad. For instance, I like when they are going up the stairwell and there’s that shot from above and below the characters, which then transitions into Harley’s flashback. And the image of Harley and the Joker in the vat of acid is pretty cool.

    Anyway, I think Marvel is now picking directors based on their ability to work with actors and ability to incorporate humor into their films. I don’t think they’re picking directors based on their acumen as visual artists.

  29. Great review. Pretty much nailed it.

  30. Batty, I think that’s fair. I do think the Russo brothers have a pretty cool take on action. There are elements of it that are just kind of over-the-top goofballs (pretty much everything about Nick Fury, all the inter-Avengers banter/tension/grab-assery), but no more so than the original Star Wars.

    I think the challenge here is that I’m not convinced that Zack Snyder or David Ayer are highly competent storytellers. My sense is that they have certain signature fetishes and gimmicks, but they have trouble restraining some of their impulses toward excess as far as those fetishes/gimmicks, and I’m not sure that the bedrock fundamentals of good dialogue, pacing, and narrative are their strong suits, at least as directors. This is based on some real but limited actual experience watching their films (I’ve seen MoS and Sabotage…and Training Day, but I don’t count that), mixed with fan and reviewer themes and my own inferences. I’m just not convinced that either of these guys is a great, well-rounded directorial storyteller. That is a long way of saying, even if they had total creative control, I’m not sure the result would be “good,” though it may be marginally better or different or more coherent.

  31. Batty, I think that’s fair. I do think the Russo brothers have a pretty cool take on action. There are elements of it that are just kind of over-the-top goofballs (pretty much everything about Nick Fury, all the inter-Avengers banter/tension/grab-assery), but no more so than the original Star Wars.

    I think the challenge here is that I’m not convinced that Zack Snyder or David Ayer are highly competent storytellers. My sense is that they have certain signature fetishes and gimmicks, but they have trouble restraining some of their impulses toward excess as far as those fetishes/gimmicks, and I’m not sure that the bedrock fundamentals of good dialogue, pacing, and narrative are their strong suits, at least as directors. This is based on some real but limited actual experience watching their films (I’ve seen MoS and Sabotage…and Training Day, but I don’t count that), mixed with fan and reviewer themes and my own inferences. I’m just not convinced that either of these guys is a great, well-rounded directorial storyteller. That is a long way of saying, even if they had total creative control, I’m not sure the result would be “good,” though it may be marginally better or different or more coherent.

  32. People keep throwing out terms like “choppy” and “all over the place” and “incoherent” but I gotta tell ya, I knew exactly what was going on. How can someone watch the movie and not understand what is happening? I found it to be pretty straightforward. In the age of Jason Bourne and Hunger Games films that look like a shivering epileptic was behind the camera, how can someone say “I couldn’t follow the action scenes”? Just strange to me.

    Oh, and Vern what Suicide Squad cartoon are you referring to? I went and looked for it but couldn’t find anything.

  33. binkysguy – It’s that ASSAULT ON ARKHAM thing. It’s the review right before this one.

    So SUICIDE SQUAD is finally here but as the resident DC Comics nerd I will preface this post by stating: it will be long. Don’t indulge me by reading it if you don’t have to.

    With that out of the way well here goes:

    This movie got famously trashed all across cyberspace and that led to my expectations being greatly reduced. Thankfully after seeing it for myself those expectations were greatly surpassed. At the same time it also left me pretty bewildered.

    On a personal note I didn’t get how something like THE INCREDIBLE HULK was better received because this was nowhere near as dull. On a more objective tip ladies and gentlemen we have now reached a point in time where the slightest sins in a movie would reduce it to the levels of FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER and GREEN LANTERN within the general reception consensus without a flinch. That is kind of scary because this movie even in corporate exec edit mode wasn’t objectively THAT bad. If you rate on a 1-10 scale (which I don’t) I guess it’s like a 6 but a 6 is closer to an 8 than it is to a 3.

    To me anyway those panicked WB suits have created another beautiful disaster just like they did last Spring with BATMAN V SUPERMAN: THEATRICAL EDITION: LESS THAN 3 HOURS. Like there would be moments where you cringe then something really earnest makes it on screen and you end up smiling again. It’s all over the place but when it hits those high notes man you really see the shades of greatness.

    I was entertained and had a good time. The crowd I was with really ate it up so maybe that energy helped. They only unintentionally laughed at Cara Delasomething’s overacting and painful gyrations , that one line El Diablo says that makes everybody facepalm and the teaser trailer for some Christopher Nolan WWII thing. Not a bad reception but then again I was once in a crowd that completely fawned over THE AVENGERS and I hated it so it I perhaps that’s not a reliable measure of acceptance.
    Nevertheless if I could give Ayer credit for anything it’s for doing the impossible. Something nobody has accomplished in 20 something years including Paul Dini the character’s creator. I actually felt something for Harley Quinn for once in my life. That moment is when Harley faces her one true desire and in it we see her press a button labeled “normal” and boom we get a shot of her and The Joker living that picket fence life. I felt the empathetic part of my soul react to that and that’s when I knew they really have something here with this character.

    Now in the past I’ve had issues with this character for 2 reasons:

    1) Her battered wife act with The Joker in the cartoon and subsequent comics never sat well with me. She’s a complete victim with no gumption of her own and it just rubs me the wrong way.

    2) Giving The Joker a regular punching bag did absolutely nothing to make his character anymore compelling or layered.
    She just always felt superfluous.

    Meanwhile in SUICIDE SQUAD: PRESENTED BY TIME WARNER AND SOME TRAILER HOUSE I see a woman who is actually in control of her sexuality and impulses and revels in all that shit. She is unapologetic because she chooses to be not because she was brought to submit to that line of thinking. She trolls [REDACTED] by tonguing him down as he’s literally breathing life back into her and she loves every minute of grinding his gears that way . She stands up to The Joker on some “bring it on Donkey Kong” shit when he is about to shock her brains and she jumps into a vat of acid cause she feels it would be a better life.

    When she is being propositioned to a rival gang leader she is actually game and eggs him on there is 0 reluctancy on her part. Like a weird kinky game she plays with Mister J. She is a psycho but she fucking owns it and it comes across very genuine and engaging. Matter of fact they come across as equal opportunity sociopaths. She is as badly wired as he is the only difference is we get every indication that for her this was even during her life as Dr. Quinzel at one point and not just when she became Harley. They are genuine partners and lovers not more in the line of master and slave as usually presented. I could finally buy this relationship as a “MAD LOVE”.

    The fact that this Joker and Harley are more Mickey and Mallory than Sid and Nancy came a long way for me: big improvement on the source material there IMO. Not saying if they get more “traditional” with it I’d ban these movies but it was a twist that functioned as well as I thought it always would so I really bought into it.

    Speaking of The Joker I appreciated that he was more Clown Prince of Crime and I genuinely howled at the pinky ring scene. I could never get mad at a Joker that enjoys being dapper and bouisterous. Also the fact that he genuinely felt a special way for his ride or die chick added a new dimension to him we haven’t really seen on screen. I could see why he would be so determined to retrieve his soulmate. Once again this cut showed me enough to buy into it. I could fill in the blanks.

    Also going back to what Vern talked about in is review (the marker smile doodled on his face) was I the only one that got that it was supposed to be a cowl opening? He used a Batman voice all throughout that scene and I laughed like a lunatic but I think I was the only one. Maybe it was too subtle. Probably should’ve been shaped like a bat. In any case this guy is alright. He reminds me of the Frank Miller Bowie-esque Joker which makes sense considering Miller’s influence on this universe’s tone and aesthetics.

    I found [REDACTED] to be as close to the 70s comics and TAS as I have ever seen in any of these movies to date. All with less than 5 minutes of screen time and that was quite impressive. This guy was cuffing villains and helping the GCPD, he was jumping in rivers ready to save lives including his archnemesis’ and like his comic book and cartoon character is an equal opportunity ass kicker so female villains should probably think twice before acting up he just sees scum when he looks at you guys too. Unless you dress up like a cat.

    Deadshot was very Will Smith-like “no forget killing Rick Flagg even if I entertained the idea 3 minutes ago wah wah wah” “come on guys we have a mission yap yap yap” but there was enough Deadshot there that it didn’t feel too jarring. Like the whole “extorting the mob boss for more dough while executing the contract” bit is pure Floyd. So was his love for his daughter the one good thing in his life which if this ever followed the comics narratively could end up in interesting places in future movies. Also he was still street wise enough, witty enough and had enough swag with guns to sell himself as Lawton. Even when he resorted to the patented Fresh Prince tears when facing is daughter during a showdown with [REDACTED].

    Never in my life did I ever think I’d give Jai Courtney credit for stealing a movie but here we are today. Boomerang was great and sadly we didn’t get enough of him or any of his gimmicky boomerangs. I had thought since this movie just owned and embraced the crazy without a care that they would use some of his gimmicky boomerangs and shit since it’s not “grounded in reality” but alas I thought wrong. Missed opportunity but they completely nailed Digger’s self centered and brash assholeness. Hope he makes it to that Flash movie.

    Croc was ok but we didn’t get enough to truly dig into his big swamp baby routine. Viola Davis as Waller was the MVP though. She went to places so dark even Nick Fury wouldn’t be able to shine his way out of there with a flashlight. That scene with the feds was classic. I seen some nerds complain about an anti heroic character being portrayed as anti heroic and gray “in the cartoons Waller would never do that bla bla” and I’m like “yes nerd but if that was too much for you don’t ever read DC’s CHECKMATE comic book series then cause you’d light those comics on fire”. I also liked that they have now basically established the Batman/Waller dynamic in this universe from jump.

    Matter of fact this movie was a testament to the fact that DC has the most interesting and layered female characters in the entire superhero pantheon. It was also the most diverse cast I’ve ever seen in one of these movies and even though it touched upon different cultures it didn’t seem disingenuous with it. These weren’t stereotypes but they were certainly products of their environment. Of course that’s where it felt like a David Ayer flick the most. That and some different visual tricks like Enchantress’ entrance with the dark hand overtaking June Moone’s.

    The plot was basic and clichéd as well as very much in the background. Like DEADPOOL and GHOSTBUSTERS (1984) [still can’t believe I had to type 1984] before it though it’s not about it’s paper thin plot it’s about selling these characters to us and on that level well mission accomplished.

    Unlike DEADPOOL and GHOSTBUSTERS however the villains are not interesting and for those other movies that went a long way so I had to dock points from SUICIDE SQUAD for that. Which is also a shame since in the source material The Enchantress is an interesting and batshit crazy weirdo like in the original Ostrander SUICIDE SQUAD comics or as recently as Geoff John’s FLASHPOINT. We also don’t get enough moments were we genuinely see these people connect outside of the occasional visual aid and small exchange as well as the best scene in the movie which takes place in a bar.

    Nevertheless I think this movie succeeded because it added more levity to the DCEU and it also took care of some worldbuilding. Despite the presence of no Hawkpeople this movie mostly takes place in Midway City and that is a feat in itself because I don’t think we’ve seeing anything but Gotham, Smallville and Metropolis in any live action DC theatrical projects for several years now.
    Also we get to see more Gotham in it naturally with some CG snow too so it looks very much like a comic book. Matter of fact this whole movie was the first time the DCEU really felt like a comic brought to life. It was very vibrant and paced pretty swiftly and added a lot of energetic visuals and different colors to this operation.

    I’m the guy who enjoyed PUNISHER: WAR ZONE so take this as you will. I had fun with this so if they ever decide to follow this up with SUICIDE SQUAD TOO or SUICIDE SQUAD V JUSTICE LEAGUE I’ll probably be there to see them. Maybe I am a part of the problem and not the solution that is your prerogative. However one thing I know is that there is no way in hell this movie was as bad as CATWOMAN and for that alone I felt I got my money’s worth.

  34. binkysguy – I do think even though most of the action is coherent (and even beautiful in the case of that last fight in the rain), there were a couple of things that seemed unclear (probably due to reshoots rather than a shakycam aesthetic) – SPOILERS- 1) Who shot down the first helicopter with the Squad in it? We see military-style tracer fire coming from the ground but after that they only seem to fight weaponless mutants. 2) Later on in the office building when El Diablo finally lets loose, who the heck was shooting at them? I’m assuming that’s the other SEAL team that got mutated, but it’s weird we never get a good look at them. I’m wondering if they were evil military guys in another cut. 3) The one truly incoherent part for me was when someone starts attacking the SEAL members underwater near the end. At first I thought Croc was turning on them but I guess not since he’s all warm and cuddly at the end. I guess it’s another mutant who I guess got killed? 4) Did Scott Eastwood blow himself up? Because it sure seems like it. Kinda weird the only one who commits Suicide is not in the actual Squad.

    Broddie – I’m glad you liked it. I actually thought Catwoman was kind of fun when I rewatched it this year, but seriously people calling Suicide Squad “the worst comic book movie ever” are a) just trying to show off or b) out of their minds. An article said Enchantress is the worst comic book villain of all time and I was like, “Did you SEE Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor from like 4 months ago??” Oh, and I think Green Lantern did show us Coast City but I wouldn’t blame you for forgetting that movie.

  35. Broddie, you and I are on the same page. This one is like a disorganized jewelry box: Nothing’s in its proper place and it can be difficult to find what you’re looking for, especially since a lot of the pieces are junk, but there are some bright, shiny gems hidden in the clutter.

    I’m softer on these DC movies than most because I tend to see the post-AVENGERS Team-Up Era of superhero cinema as less about storytelling and more about compiling. The goal is not to create a straight narrative line from Point A to Point B but to erect an interconnected narrative latticework on which to hang as much shiny shit as possible. The sturdier the latticework, the more shit you can hang on it before it collapses.

    This time I think it pretty much collapsed (They felt the need to flashback to a simple scene where one character switches sides, without even providing any new information–that is pure flop sweat right there) but you still end up with a pile of shiny shit to sift through. And honestly, I think I enjoy the act of sifting. I’ve watched BVS five times now, because I never fully feel like I have a handle on it. There’s always more to explore. A lot of that is because the movie doesn’t explain itself very well, which means I have to put more effort into making sense of it.

    Either way, for me that’s a feature, not a bug. I like trying to make all the loose ends tie up. I feel actively involved in the viewing experience more so than in the Marvel movies, which I also enjoy but they do tend to tie everything up in a neat little bow. They’re easy. DC movies are a challenge. Like a wise and beefy man once said, the world only makes sense if you force it to, and that holds doubly true for the DC cinematic universe.

  36. George Sanderson

    August 9th, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    Blinksguy – I’m one of those people that called it “all over the place”, mainly due to the fact that there seemed to be so much left out or left unexplained (perhaps someone can help me out with some of these).
    Why didn’t the Enchantress just kill Amanda Waller and take her heart back when she warped into her bedroom?
    Why did they need the Squad to lead a military team into Midway when Waller was already in there with a team?
    What was Enchantress trying to do?
    Why did Boomerang rejoin the team after leaving?
    Did we know that El Diablo was actually some sort of God?
    As I said in my comment above, I had a good time with the movie and really liked the majority of the characters and performances but it was not a well told story.

  37. Crushinator Jones

    August 9th, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    I didn’t find this movie particularly great or particularly bad, but I am shocked by the amount of venom being flung at it. I felt the way I did about Iron Man 2 – an ok movie with some interesting stuff that groans under the weight of the franchise garbage it’s carrying. It has a cool visual style, some great performances, some neato scenes (Enchantress’s brother walking out of the fog all glowing and angry was gorgeous) and some goofy character work counterweighted by choppy editing and a story that largely spins its wheels.

    (I appreciated that Enchantress would have been bad for Superman to handle, as he isn’t immune to mental attacks).

    Well, better luck with Wonder Woman, DC!

  38. 1. The case with the heart in it was rigged to explode if Enchantress got to close to it. As to why she didn’t just kill Waller then and there, I don’t know. Maybe there’s a dead man’s switch on the case and if Waller’s pulse stopped, the case would blow? Every single thing involving Enchantress was sloppy.

    2. Waller had a team of analysts, not soldiers. She needed the Squad to get her ass out of the city, not save the day.

    3. As far as I could tell, she just wanted to kill all humans. Your basic evil plan.

    4. What else was he gonna do?

    5. No. That was supposed to be a big surprise.

  39. Crushinator Jones

    August 9th, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    BTW when I say the editing is choppy I mean it feels very stitched together. You can see the seams. It’s perfectly coherent.

  40. George Sanderson

    August 9th, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    Thanks Majestyk, that clears a few things up, i didn’t realize that Waller was in Midway City before all this stuff went down.
    You’re right about everything about the Enchantress character being sloppy. She was seemingly all powerful (despite the weird quirk of needing to be summoned by her host) which was not necessary for a Suicide Squad villain. None of the squad were spectacularly powered themselves so they could have gone with somethin way more grounded and definable as a mission.

  41. George Sanderson

    August 9th, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Oh, and the mission to extract Waller was pretty poorly planned as she just got in a helicopter by herself and left them all anyway.

  42. Yeah, she basically just needed an escort to the roof.

  43. Dikembe Mutombo

    August 9th, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Sorry but I’m not remotely interested in anyone’s opinion on Ayer if they havent seen END OF WATCH. Judging the guy off Sabotage alone is like holding forth on Tarantino after only seeing his Four Rooms segment.

    Majestyk – its not a tv show

  44. I feel like that’s supposed to be a burn but I don’t know what it means.

  45. Dikembe, I’ll retract my general characterization of Ayer. And I should See END OF WATCH. I stand by my assertion that SABOTAGE is pretty laughable across the board (So why is all this talking about it making me want to watch it again?)

  46. Wow, this film really was a mess. Almost incoherent. Some characters are introduced multiple times, others barely at all. Character beats are set up without being paid off and paid off without being set up. Born stars like Margot Robbie and Will Smith do great with what they’re given, but something is wrong when a third-stringer like Diablo gets the most complete character arc in the film. Most of the jokes fall flat (e.g. Captain Boomerang’s pink unicorn) and the action is choppy, badly lit and poorly edited. They burned almost every decent action beat, funny line and memorable image in the trailers. The villain is boring. But there were some good performances (Viola Davis!), some good scenes (mostly involving Deadshot) and enough of David Ayer’s day-glo filthiness shone through to make it not a complete waste of time.

    By the time the film came out the idea of Joker by way of SPRING BREAKERS had really grown on me, but I think I liked it more in theory than execution. I found Leto’s performance way too self-consciously hammy, and not in a fun way. And I think the studio meddling to make the Harley/Joker relationship less predatory and abusive actually made it way worse. That shitty epilogue where (spoiler) Joker busts in to save her is played as unambiguously romantic, and I don’t think they’re trying to say anything about the complicated nature of emotionally abusive relationships, they just know they can sell more “Harley + Joker 4EVA” messenger bags at Hot Topic that way. And yeah, it will probably pay off two or three films down the track (assuming the DCEU hasn’t completely imploded by then), but isn’t this the kind of neglecting-basic-narrative-structure-for-the-sake-of-long-term-franchise-building that people give Marvel shit for?

  47. I dug the Deadshot, the Joker, and Harley, but man what an uninvolving second half.
    But the post credit Marvel aping scene was the worst. An expository dinner, again!? And the info Batfleck got was the same info we already got in BvS! And then he says “I’m putting a team together”. Uh, yeah, we’ve seen the trailer dude. Completey pointless, and worse, it was boring.

  48. George Sanderson

    August 9th, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    There was a sting on this?! I didn’t stay for the credits!

  49. It was a mid-credits sting, and don’t worry, like darth brooks said it didn’t tell us anything new. It’s Ben Affleck sitting down with Viola Davis, offering her his “personal protection” in return for her files on metahumans. I guess the kind-of-interesting part is she says she knows about his “nighttime activities” and he tells her to shut the Suicide Squad down, or “me and my friends will.”

  50. George Sanderson

    August 10th, 2016 at 3:06 am

    Thanks for the rundown JTS. That seems a bit out of character for both Waller and Wayne. Batman probably wouldn’t approve of her methods and Waller would surely use her knowledge of his secret identity as leverage. Glad I missed it.

  51. I am at least partially persuaded by Majestyk’s diamonds in the rough / gold in them thar hills take, where even if the overall film (this or BVS) is kind of an overstuffed muddle, there are still great moments, proto-ideas, or performances to be enjoyed that make the overall experience worthwhile. Almost pulled the trigger and Amazon’d BVS Ultimate Edition yesterday but couldn’t justify it at $20. Holding out, but now I’m more convinced that this and SS are worth a discount rental.

    I’ve discussed this before, but it is an interesting distinction in sensibilities. Vern’s approach aligns with what Majestyk is saying here, which is to find the beautiful treasure that may be surrounded by some trash within a movie. Even if it’s 90% trash and 10% treasure, depending on various factors, it may still be a worthwhile watch. I’m sure there are films where that holds true for me, too. Like most of the slasher films I’ve enjoyed (Zombie H2, for example). I can’t qualify it as a good movie in any conventional sense, but there are some neat things it does that I dig and like to explore and revisit. On the other hand, my more normal mode is to call a spade a spade and say (in the words of the venerable Roger Ebert): “your movie sucks” when it does. That’s why, despite whatever neat, boundary-pushing things that, e.g., Lucas did in the prequels (“…there Skani goes again”), it doesn’t add up to a good or, for me, enjoyable movie.

    I guess what I’m saying (as I’ve said before) is that there is the notion of a subjectively good (satisfying, “I would watch it again,” “it’s my cup of tea”) movie, and then there is the notion of a semi-objectively good movie (meritorious, a classic, achieves what it seems to have set out to achieve, be it humor, suspense, anguish, whatevs). There are movies I can’t defend as objectively good, but I enjoy them nevertheless. I do think there is value in distinguishing what is one’s subjective (personal aesthetic-affective taste) judgment and what is a more (striving toward) objective commentary on the merits and execution of the film. I think conversations can get derailed when we don’t honor some distinction here, even if it’s not always clear where the lines are in any one casse.

  52. case! death before proofreading!!! lol

  53. And just to carry this train of thought and discussion further and concretize it…

    For me Star Wars prequels are objectively tending-toward “bad” movies (objectively), and I don’t enjoy them (subjectively). My status as a parent nevertheless compels me to watch them from time to time :)

    For me, Freddy vs. Jason and Halloween 2 (Zombie version) are objectively tending-toward “bad” moviews, but I “subjectively” enjoy watching them.

    The Master and Tree of Life are, I believe, objective masterpieces that I also subjectively enjoy, but I see where others might not, and their lack of subjective enjoyment may cloud their judgment as to the objective merits of the film, because they assume those films can/should/did try to achieve goals other than the ones they actually can/should/did.

    I am sure both the particulars and the more general objective-subjective distinction will court a lot of controversy and disagreement, and I’m not saying it’s the God’s-eye truth, but I do think there is something like objective merit (maybe a controversial claim), and there is definitely something like subjective enjoyment (we all experience it; not controversial), and I think those two things aren’t always in alignment, nor need they be, but the mis-alignment results in talking past each other. Of course, there can be fun in the talking past each other and sparring, too. :)

  54. Whew, guys. I’m sorry to say this but I think I gotta join the ranks of people calling this a bad movie. Granted, it’s a bad movie which feels like it’s constantly threatening to break out into a good movie, but then it never does. I think Ayers has assembled the right ingredients here in terms of cast and aesthetics, but boy, does the movie forget to cook them. For a 2+ hour debacle, it has a shockingly low quotient of actual “good stuff.” Not just in terms of action, but in character beats — there’s stunning little actual time spent with the squad interacting with each other. The only time they ever seem to really get a moment to chat is the bar scene, which feels abbreviated and basically just an excuse to cram one last expository backstory in there that got left out of the bloated infodump at the beginning. And though it’s really the only character beat in the story that ever pays off, (Spoiler) Diablo’s decision that this is his new “family” seems hilariously unearned. He’s had one conversation with them.

    On one hand, the movie is obviously fucked up from terrible editing which is trying to make it into something it obviously was never meant to be. But unfortunately watching the movie I can’t honestly say I think Ayer’s original vision would have been a lot better, because this story was just never going to work in the first place. Even if it were told more logically and economically, the whole conflict with Enchantress and her brother is a boring nonstarter and, much worse, it completely fails to actually make good use of the unique characters and their abilities. It’s like setting a Spider-Man movie in the open desert, where he can’t swing or climb! If you are gonna use these ridiculous, cartoonish larger-than-life characters, at least put them in a scenario where they’re constantly doing cool things! It’s an entire movie which is all labored setup and no payoff at all.

  55. I pretty much hated every frame of this movie, but I won’t blather on. I do want to highlight that Subtlety’s comments on the lack of interaction/relationships between the squad members is spot on. About halfway through the movie, it starts insisting that they’ve formed some sort of comradery, but they completely left out all the parts where that supposedly happens (outside of them trading a few quips, none of which got any laughs when I saw it). There is no reason for Deadshot to not kill Harley, and then no reason for them to care when she comes back, and no reason for them to be nice to her when they see she’s sad. I mean, these guys are supposed to be the “worst of the worst,” right?

    Which is the other huge, unavoidable problem: these bad guys aren’t really bad guys. The entire flippin’ premise is, you know, ha ha what if supervillains were forced to do good? But from the get go it’s trying to show that Harley, Diablo and Deadshot aren’t so bad. No one is ever shown doing anything truly evil in the movie, and they all somehow become friends and care about each other after spending what appears to be only one day together. This is the cuddliest, cutest group of supposed supervillains imaginable and that is such a colossal fuckup of such an obviously hook that I am baffled as to what movie these people thought they were making.

  56. *obviously fun hook

  57. “S.W.A.T. Topic”!

    jesus christ vern, you nailed the movie in two words

  58. “This is the cuddliest, cutest group of supposed supervillains imaginable”

    I kept on thinking about what would happen if John Cassavetes’s character from the Dirty Dozen was included in this group. At the first chance, I’m sure he’d waste every one of them without a second thought.

  59. So wait, in an earlier cut of the movie Joker is trying to kill Harley, not save her? That’s kind of in line with their relationship as I remember it from the cartoon when I was a kid, but would be bizarrely out of character for this movie. I mean, am I wrong, or does this movie play their love for each other as the real deal? Cutting that out was probably the right call.

  60. Also, I want to be respectful of the opinions of the people who enjoyed or at least didn’t hate SUICIDE SQUAD, but I’m really befuddled as to where these “great characters” and “fun” moments are. I really don’t recall anyone saying or doing anything funny or cool during the entire movie. Some of them talk in funny voices and intone things as if they were funny, but all the jokes fall flat, the dialogue is dull and unmemorable, no one really has more than 1 or 2 personality traits or details to distinguish themselves as more than walking props. I honestly couldn’t even tell if I thought the acting was good, because the actors have so little of interest to work with.

    This is why I can’t buy the idea that the studio ruined what could have been a good movie. Where is the good movie trapped in here? I see no sign of it. I’m sure their shitty re-edit only made the movie worse, but I have trouble believing that the studio fucked up so bad as to literally cut every single good line of dialogue, character moment or entertaining action beat out of the final film.

  61. Just saw it, it is a great big heaping mess but I still enjoyed it. I don’t have much to add to what has already been stated. I actually didn’t mind the stuff with Enchantress, I guess I’m numb to stupid ill-conceived villains in movies. A lot people have given her brother flack but I liked him, he at least “seemed” different from other heavies I’ve seen in movies. I guess I’m the only person who wasn’t bothered by Captain Boomerang quitting and then immediately coming back no questions asked, it seemed like a legit joke and I though it was funny. Also he was a brony which I thought was funny.

    Like BvS this could’ve been a whole lot better but I don’t think it’s the train-wreak disaster that it’s being billed as. I guess I’m not the same wavelength when I see two articles proclaiming that this thing was the most painful movie-going experience ever when there are far far worse movies (Broddie mentioned Incredibly Boring Hulk, so I’ll call out the two awful Thor films that everyone loves for some reason (please note the two Thors are the only Marvel Studios movies I flat out do not like so this is not some bitter DC fanboy rant (I think Incredible Hulk is good until after the university fight, then it just kind of flails in the wind).

    The editing should rightfully go down in history for how shitty it is, the whole thing feels like ‘This is what the cool kids like right?” aka it feels exactly like it was cut by a marketing firm. Other than that, I’m pretty much with Broddie and Mr. M with this one. I guess when my Marvel fanboy co-worker inevitably asks me why I’m so overly nice to these things when I use to be overly negative to the Marvels ones (I am no longer), for this one I can point to Viola Davis (holy shit is she good in this (as always) and say that she is such a great morally conflicting character (stuck in a not terribly great movie) that Marvel wouldn’t touch with a hundred-foot-pole-piloted-by-a-drone in their towing the middle road production factory and their consistently good movies I don’t have to make excuses to like. I guess I too like sifting.

    Also, special shout out to Mr. Broddie on your examination of the Harley Quinn/Joker romance in this. I liked the character before-hand but had to admit that she is a very male-nerd friendly female character (she is funny and wierd and perpetually stuck in an abusive relationship that “nice guy” nerds can fantasize about “saving” her from). So thank you, you legitimately gave me new insight on the character.

  62. That’s an almost-fair assessment of Harley Quinn (the character overall, I mean, not necessarily the Suicide Squad version specifically). But it doesn’t account for her female fans. Not that I have a link to a study to prove they exist, but anecdotally, I have run into a lot of them. Though, again anecdotally, I think they’re more into Harley in the context of her friendship with Poison Ivy then as Joker’s girlfriend.

    Also, the “perpetually stuck” part isn’t really true in the comics. I can honestly say I’ve read wayyyyyy more Batman and DC content that features Harley Quinn post her falling out with the Joker than with her still in an abusive relationship. I don’t even think it would be controversial to say that the character has evolved to the point where her default state in most comics is now “Joker’s former girlfriend.”

  63. Yeah I do believe the conceit of her extremely successful solo monthly book is that she now lives for herself and not for The Joker. I have yet to read it myself though despite loving the creative team behind it but I’m sure that’s the hook.

  64. I agree this movie was a total mess. But, it was one I more or less enjoyed.

    Nothing I can say about it that ball you guys didn’t already say, except this:

    I think this movie offers an interesting question, and one rarely explored in movies these days: who is truly the bad guy in this: the cutthroat crooks that are the leads, the weird entity that they are fighting…or the calculating government types that put the team together in the first place?

    I think the film dares to answer the question with balls: the cutthroat types? Hard times lead to hard people. The weird entity? Its some sort of unexplained cosmic crap…hating that is like hating an earthquake. But the cynical, self serving government? Some of Viola Davis’ scenes were downright chilling!

    Too bad this theme wasn’t offered up in a better movie, but at least it was in one that was kinda sorta cool.

  65. Crushinator Jones

    August 16th, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Ok I know I talked about this already but this is ridiculous.

    This movie is getting the nerd equivalent to a 2 Minute Hate. 3 podcasts that I listened to have literally devoted their entire episode to slagging this movie. I actually defunded one on Patreon because I realized that I don’t want to pay money to listen to the same old nerd indignation and froth.

    Again, this wasn’t any great shakes – I can’t stress this enough, it was an uneven film that I won’t buy on blu-ray and won’t think about after this year – but pretending this is some execrable piece of shit and crime against cinema requires a level of bad faith and hysterics that I simply don’t respect. This exact same Tony Montana Joker showed up in the comics and nobody gave a flying fuck. The exact same Harley was in the Suicide Squad comic. Honestly I thought Enchantress sucked really hard – beautiful striking actress, but zero chemistry with Flagg and no screen presence at all – but everyone is too busy shitting on Leto’s Joker to care, I guess.

    Honestly I thought we were getting away from the Ain’t It Cool News “everything is either the greatest of all time or sub-fecal trash” but it seems to be alive and well. The new wave of critics seems to have embraced that exact same garbage attitude. Either we’ve ruined a new generation or the old generation has failed to grow up. Either way I’m sad.

  66. “I actually defunded one on Patreon”

    *high five*

  67. Crushinator — Again, I can’t help but wonder if the problem is that nerds know when they don’t like something, but aren’t great at parsing out why exactly. They’re right that it’s an atrociously haphazard and unrewarding slog, but don’t really have the critical artistic language to express that, so instead they work overtime to convince themselves that the problem is more cosmetic — that this character or that image didn’t precisely line up with their specific expectation. The problem becomes, then, not “this usage of the character fails to emotionally connect” and more “THIS IS HERESY!!!” which is a singularly unhelpful way to approach any work of art.

  68. Crushinator Jones

    August 16th, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    @CJ
    To be fair the Patreon’d podcast had degraded over the last 3 months to be nothing more than boilerplate nerd bitching, but this was the last straw. I’ve noticed the nerd film criticism cycle is:

    a) Some good, insightful points about specific movies
    that slides into
    b) The hosts incredulously describing a movie while essentially saying “that’s not how REALITY WORKS?!?!?!?” over and over again

    @Mr. Subtlety
    I’m sure that 90% of people watching films can’t accurately describe why they liked them. I’ll re-quote something I read on another site once: “If you think that people can figure out why something is bothering them with any accuracy, you don’t believe in things like therapy or psychoanalysis. People can’t figure out things that actually matter, things that destroy their quality of life – no shit that they can’t figure out why the latest cape movie failed to move them.”

    I understand why people don’t like Suicide Squad. Hell, I’m not too impressed with it. It’s got ugly editing stitches, a thick layer of Soundtrack Montage smeared over it like axle grease, a wisp of a Joker performance that honestly is barely enough to form an opinion about, and the ultimate showdown is against a zero-charisma underwear model in Neon Hollywood Aztec while the ever-present Blue Beam of Doom pulses into the sky. But come the fuck on. A man with literal God-Given Firepower watches his flame-ghost wife dance in a cup after he accidentally murders his family. If that shit had been in a Woo movie we would have all been falling over ourselves with praise. Robbie’s SuicideGirl Except Badass was original (yeah, it is. This isn’t a character archetype that makes it into the mainstream) a few funny jokes, a compelling and ruthless boss character, and of course the movie looked great. So an uneven film that doesn’t succeed fully, like X-Men Apocalypse for instance. But you can literally throw a stone on movie news site and find boring nerds completely melting the fuck down about it.

    And it’s like, if this movie really inspired that level of visceral hate in you then a) you don’t watch enough movies and don’t know what actual bad cinema looks like, b) you are clearly a bored trustfund kid who has no real problems, or c) you have decided to 2 Minute Hate on these very uneven DC movies because of some wacky tribalism. I don’t care either way but I’m absolutely exhausted of it hearing about it. These movies are simply not bad enough to have my face shoved in over-heated nerd-rage over and over again. It’s tiresome and honestly seems like it’s social signalling/theatrics at this point.

  69. @Mr. Subtly: That is single handedly the best description of this weird all or none nerd phenomenon that I have ever heard. That attitude has always left me baffled. When I see a flick I don’t like, I more like “whatever” and forget about it. Even when its one I highly anticipated. If its one I didn’t like but everyone else seemed to…or for whatever reason it kind of haunts me that I might of missed something…I give it another go a few years later.

    But its never been the BIG DEAL the nerds seem to insist on. Your assessment of that might set sheds some light on it. And I always sort of felt that particular fanboy demographic didn’t quite “get” movies and how to talk about them. You never get talk about theme, structure, metaphors, allegory…nothing. Just “THIS SUCKS!!!”

    Which is weird, since in my comic book heyday (late 80s/early 90s), comics themselves were a “thinking mans” medium. Tons of talk about allegory and subtext and satire and all that smart people who use the big college words stuff. That crowd HAS to still exist, guess they are just smart enough to stay relatively quiet on the internet.

    Anyway, like I said, I thought SUICIDE SQUAD was ok. But one thing I did notice…all the kids seemed to eat it up. I saw it on a pretty busy day, and the theater was filled with 11-15 year olds. They dug it. They were mesmerized when it was on, cheering when you were supposed to, laughing when you were supposed to and then were out in the parking lot going on and on about what their theories of the next couple of these movies will be about.

    And everyone knows, given time, its kids that decide what sticks. I can’t count how many movies were dismissed by critics and the public when I was a kid, that are now considered classics (and everyone is mad they are remaking!)

    Give it 10 years. SUICIDE SQUAD is one of those movies. We are just old.

  70. Damn auto spell correct messed some stuff up in my post. None a big deal, but I meant “mind set”. How it corrected it just made it look really grammatically weird.

  71. Crushinator, no need for fairness. When motherfuckers decide to go for the lowest common denominator and are more interested in spreading more hacky negativity and you have the chance to tell them to fuck themself in a way, that is more efficient than simply writing an angry comment, just do it.

  72. Crushinator – You think it’s bad now just you wait till WONDER WOMAN drops. I think at that point I will block every movie and genre site outside of this one on my interwebs. I could already see the already ongoing “Marvel has a real actress as their first female headliner while DC settled for a model yuk yuk yuk!” line of thinking amplified by 5000 the way these morons try to rationalize their shitty opinions.

  73. I don’t know, if WONDER WOMAN is good (in a normal and not weird, challenging way) I think it will go over well. I don’t think I’ve talked to one person or read one review of BAT V SUPER, no matter how negative, that didn’t at least say “Wonder Woman was pretty cool though.” People were against Gadot when she was announced, but now they’re at the “obviously I was wrong so I will pretend I never said it” stage familiar from when Daniel Craig took over as Bond.

  74. I thought Gal Gadot was dreadful. Wonder Woman and all the other JL stuff was the worst stuff for me regarding BvS

  75. I agree with the consensus that Gadot did fine as Wonder Woman, especially considering how small the role was. Unfortunately, the script never gave her character any reason to be there. You could have wiped out the character and her subplot and pretty much nothing would have changed. It did make me realize that Marvel does a good job of foreshadowing other movies without completely tripping up the current film (with a few exceptions of course).

  76. Crushinator Jones

    August 17th, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Rbatty I can’t think of a single Marvel foreshadowing of any movie outside of their post-credit stingers. Is an upcoming/current characters showing up for 30 seconds and saying a few lines for a tease really a “good job”? (genuine question)

    And in some cases they foreshadow shit that is completely dropped, like Loki controlling Skarsgaard at the end of Thor.

  77. I wouldn’t categorize it as foreshadowing so much as interweaving the characters from other joints into a movie. Sometimes it’s a very short interweaving/introduction, like Hawkeye in THOR and sometimes it’s bigger, like Black Widow in IRON MAN 2. And that’s not even talking about taking them from stand alone projects to group movies.

    The one time they really did a foreshadowing was of Thor in that cave in the last AVENGERS and that was just as clunky as Wonder Woman’s YouTube viewing.

  78. What I meant by that first paragraph, which wasn’t clear at all, was that I thought they did a good job interweaving the characters throughout the different movies. Black Widow goes from IRON MAN to THE AVENGERS to CAPTAIN AMERICA pretty smoothly.

  79. As an example of Marvel doing a better job of setting up future films while also incorporating new characters into the series, I would point to Black Panther. He’s an important part of Captain America 3, but he’s also there tell the audience, “Hey, you should all see this Black Panther movie that’s coming out next year.” He has far more of a reason to exist in that film than Wonder Woman does. Although, like I said, I actually liked Gadot in the role. She looked like she was having fun.

  80. Crushinator Jones

    August 18th, 2016 at 9:27 am

    RBatty, that’s a good point but that’s one incident. And Black Panther was THE new character in that movie, while Batman v Superman brought in Lex and Batman and KGBeast.

    But you’re right. They did a good job with the Panther.

    Sadly I think they did a lousy job with Widow and (especially) Hawkeye, but you know what? That’s totally personal taste. If that worked better for you then enjoy.

    Wonder Woman watching Youtubes For Justice League is on my Bottom 5 Movie Moments of All Time and it could have been any character watching it…shame that turd had to hit her.

  81. I’ve read reviews of Marvel that complain that each film is just an advertisement for future films, and while I get why people think that way, I also think Wonder Woman watching Youtube shows us how poorly this approach can be handled. It completely stops the narrative dead in its tracks, and it also occurs right before the big climax, which highlights how awkward the scene is. It’s such a poor decision, I’m genuinely surprised that it made it into the final film.

  82. Crushinator Jones

    August 18th, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Rbatty, I’ve never been amicable to that criticism of Marvel (except for the Thanos/Infinity Gauntlet stuff, which is shit). Having said that, the Youtubes scene is literally stopping the film AT IT’S THEMATIC CLIMAX to dick around with a cool lady watching Internet videos. JFC. I oftentimes feel that Snyder doesn’t “get” how his stuff comes across (which is fine – be true to yourself and all that) and nothing he’s done has approached this level of disconnect. If you read some interviews with him he thought it came across as even more hype – like “here’s more shit coming after this brawl!” peak fanboy nerdout – but instead it feels like a lazy ad for franchise shoehorned into the plot. I’ve seen some pretty smart people take a stab at trying to redeem this scene and I remain unconvinced.

  83. Ugh, that “Marvel movies are just trailers for the next one” meme. One of the dumbest examples of modern day fanboy bitching. Yes, the movies are all connected and reference each other and sometimes hint at shit that’s gonna happen in another movie, but they all tell stand alone stories with a beginning and an end. In a time, where every new tentpole movie is supposed to be “The first in a trilogy”, it’s nice to see movies, that don’t leave any important subplots unsolved to the point where they become plotholws, because they are saving them for the sequel.

  84. (When you go take the extra step of htmling one half of a word, only to spell the word wrong…)

  85. Crushinator Jones

    August 18th, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    Well, unfortunately, “plot holes” is like “grimdark” – words that use to describe objective things but have been abused by nerds so badly that they’ve completely lost all meaning.

  86. But I’m not talking about the simple “Show, don’t tell” stuff that the audience fails to notice, because they don’t pay attention and/or there is no 5 minutes long monologue about it (“FURY ROAD had no story!!”), I’m talking about shit like “Who sent the T-800 to protect Sarah Connor?” in TERMINATOR: GYNYMYNYTYNSY. Stuff that the makers of the movie obviously didn’t care about, because they wanted to safe it for the next movie.

    Also this is the first time that I hear the word “grimdark”, but I spend less and less time among nerds, who would say such things anyway.

  87. Honestly, I would love to see a WARHAMMER 40K film adaptation by Zack Snyder. With it’s ludicrous character design, over-the-top violence, unapologetic worship of fascism and leaden self-seriousness, it’s the project that Snyder was born for!

  88. WARHAMMER 40K? Man, that’s either a lot of screen resolution (I still remember when 2K was considered a big deal. The digital projector for this one would be super expensive) or a very low budget (I don’t think Snyder would work for so little, but I’m sure the Duplass brothers could pull it off).

  89. Crushinator Jones

    August 19th, 2016 at 9:05 am

    Snyder doesn’t worship Fascism. What a crazy thing to say.

    If you don’t understand the satire of 300 I don’t know what to say. Snyder shows a bunch of dead babies and glassy-eyed violent kids at the beginning while the main character narrates how fucking awesome Sparta is. But forget all that, bro, we’re the siiiiiiickest warriors! *hollers and poses*

  90. Crushinator Jones

    August 19th, 2016 at 9:17 am

    Let me expound quickly on my last point: you wouldn’t want Snyder to do Warhammer because he wouldn’t take it seriously. He would treat it all as a huge joke and undermine it, and that would be deadly to Warhammer. It needs that po-faced sincerity.

  91. I’m sure that Snyder isn’t a fashist, but I don’t think he understands satire or how his urge to make every show AAAAAAAAAWEEEEEESOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMEEEEEEEEEEE might clash with every attempt at deeper message that his scripts might have.

  92. Snyder doesn’t worship fascism, he just knows that it’s more dynamic and looks cooler. That’s why vicious, fascist Batman is the best part of BvS.

  93. In terms of Syndr and DC universe…

    I finally saw BvS penultimate edition at Redbox and, as noted on that thread, I enjoyed it. For me, it would fall in the “objectively a bad movie but subjectively fun and worth watching (and even worth-rewatching)” category. We’ll see as far as Suicide Squad.

    I am not a comic book reader, so I can’t vouch for this, but I’ve heard it said that Snyder’s cinematic style is very comic book-esque just in terms of how he frames the scenes like comic book panels–that he is telling the story almost like a comic book or a flip book. It’s just careening from one image to the next with sparse and sometimes laughably hokey and unearned dialogue. If so, that would explain what a frenetic, jumping around feel BvS has, why it looks so gorgeous (“grimdark” gorgeous…mooohohahaha), and why the dialogue and character beats are so perfunctory, on the nose, and unearned. Probably didn’t help that he had to edit down what seems like an 8 hour mini-series into a 2.5 movie without losing any of his cherished subplots or characters, or so it seems.

    The objectively bad aspect is that the characters are given some horribly on-the-nose dialogue and unearned moments. There are numerous times I find myself thinking, “No one would ever talk like this” or “wait, where the hell did that come from?” No one character is really given the time to develop or just brood or communicate nonverbally. People speak only in hokey quips or laughably ponderous, impassioned epigrams. Not Star Wars prequel bad, but not good. No moment is ever given much time to breathe, because it’s just constant jumping from one scene to the next and from one character to the next. This film brought to you by ADHD and Red Bull.

    On the other hand, and perhaps in spite of himself, these qualities make the film move along very briskly, and I am endeared to all these big hokey characters and their big feelings and their discarded-at-the-drop-of-a-hat sanctimonious, maudlin speeches. I can’t help but love these guys. It holds my attention, and I enjoy the characters and the visuals and the plot pinball a lot. I think the film works as an unintentional art piece. Like David Lynch on meth.

  94. “Let me expound quickly on my last point: you wouldn’t want Snyder to do Warhammer because he wouldn’t take it seriously. He would treat it all as a huge joke and undermine it, and that would be deadly to Warhammer. It needs that po-faced sincerity.”

    Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat. Is this low key sarcasm that’s flying over my head? When has Snyder ever done that? He’s viciously criticized for doing the opposite of that, outside of these parts he’s widely derided for his po-faced sincerity. I mean, he made a fantasy movie about sword-fighting owls and he took it completely seriously. You must be thinking of Michael Bay.

  95. I don’t think that Snyder is either a fascist or a satirist, but can understand why he’d be labeled both those things. The best imagery in his movies often recalls propaganda war posters, and he did remake a satire when he remade Dawn of the Dead less satirically. I’m never sure he knows what his politics on war really are, but I’m also not sure how much that matters. There are interesting things going on in BvS and The Owls of Ga’Hoole, either way.

  96. Crushinator Jones

    August 19th, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    Zack Snyder’s most personal movie is one where the entire action framework is revealed to be satirizing what nerds want, and then it’s upended on the viewer’s head, and then Don fuckin’ Draper, symbol of the Patriarchy, walks in and gets the main character to agree to lobotomize herself.

    His “serious owl movie” has an owl blacksmith wearing goggles and forging owl weapons for the warrior owls. Uh huh. Super serious.

    Watchmen is a fuckin’ satire, Snyder has said in interviews he treated it like a satire.

    300 is a total meditation on the appeal of fascism that opens with the proclamation that Sparta is a monstrous empire of pain – it was literally as blunt as it could possibly be – and people still didn’t catch on because it’s too successful at imitating the propaganda that it’s mocking.

    But oh yeah. He’s REAL fuckin’ sincere and serious, guys. When he’s working with Superman. The rest of the time he’s dicking around.

  97. Crushinator Jones

    August 19th, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    BTW, regarding that, Snyder is actually on record as saying that his treatment of Superman as totally real and sincere IS the ironic part of it.

    “I’m always looking for some ironic element within the storytelling — like some bit of meta. For me to get excited about it, it needs to infiltrate the movie. And for me, that was that a Superman movie would be real. ”

    But the people baying that he ruined Superman and that he’s an Objectivist bro hack are too busy baying for his blood to care.

  98. None of those examples are examples of Zack Snyder treating anything like a huge joke. Again, are you being low-key sarcastic?

  99. Sorry, it’s clear that you’re not, it’s a dick move to repeat that question — but for real, how is the owl blacksmith proof that he’s not taking the owl movie seriously? And even if he’s working with some confused stealth satirical premises, that doesn’t mean he’s not taking the characters and especially the action seriously. He clearly wants you on Babydoll’s side, and I’m pretty sure he thinks King Leonidas and his wife are badasses just like the rest of us.

  100. Also, in his interview on the Empire movie podcast, he talked about how he didn’t want Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman conversing in costume for any extended period of time, because he found it silly and couldn’t take the conversations seriously. He decided he needed to get them in their civvies for those long talks. His work is the epitome of “po-faced.”

  101. Crushinator Jones

    August 19th, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    “:Also, in his interview on the Empire movie podcast, he talked about how he didn’t want Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman conversing in costume for any extended period of time, because he found it silly and couldn’t take the conversations seriously. He decided he needed to get them in their civvies for those long talks. His work is the epitome of “po-faced.””

    Me: The Superman movies are the serious ones, here’s a bunch of stuff about how insincere and ironic he is in other movies, including an interview where he says “I’m ironic in movies that aren’t Superman movies”.
    You: Let me give you this example from the Superman movie, though. It’s very serious and there’s no irony.

    No shit, genius. Nobody is arguing that Snyder isn’t very serious about Superman. He’s SuperSerious, “po-faced” even. Unfortunately for your argument, his entire career does not begin and end with those movies.

    I gave you numerous examples of how he’s not sincere in prior films and you then said “he doesn’t treat this stuff like a complete joke, though”. No, generally people don’t waste years of their life on stuff that they consider completely worthless and fundamentally unserious like stupid ass nerd catnip Warhammer 40k. 40k is some of the dumbest shit imaginable, where fascist aryan supermen fight green-skinned english soccer hooligans (or “our precious bodily fluids!” body-snatcher xenomorph rip-offs, or Terminators) to preserve planet-wide slums. And you want Snyder, Mr. “Where’s the ironic subtext” to direct this?

    Again, [b]Warhammer 40k is not a Superman movie[/b], so our track record shows that he’ll undermine the material, insert some kind of meta-ironic commentary (by his OWN admission, this is what he likes to do) and fuck around with it a bit. And I honestly feel that Warhammer 40k requires 100% sincerity to its dumbshit world in order to work.

    I’m done talking to you about this. Declare yourself the victor and move on if you still don’t “get it”. Have a great weekend.

  102. Haha, oh man.

    “He’ll treat it like a huge joke.”

    Five hours later:

    You: “No shit, he wouldn’t treat it like a huge joke, people don’t waste their lives on things they consider a huge joke.”

  103. Crushinator Jones

    August 19th, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    Haha, oh man.

    “Zack Snyder is a serious director in all of his movies, therefore he will be very serious about Warhammer 40k”

    Later:

    “Zack Snyder is a serious director in 2 Superman movies, therefore he will be very serious about Warhammer 40k (and this proves he’s a very serious director in general)”

    JFC

  104. Crushinator Jones

    August 19th, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    I knew when I posted that “people don’t work on things that they consider a huge joke” you were going to pounce on it, but I decided to do it anyway. Let me clear the air: I would be surprised if Snyder directed the 40k film in the first place. He would never agree to engage with material that puerile.

    But if somehow he did, the only value he would see would be in lampooning it as cartoonish shit. There’s no way he plays it as sincere. Period.

  105. Hey, remember when you were done talking about this, and that if I still didn’t get it I should declare myself the victor and have a great weekend? Thanks for de-escalating with your follow-up, at least.

    I just don’t agree with your assessment of what constitutes “serious,” though. Even if some of his movies have stealthy ironic premises, I still think they qualify. So Sucker Punch is a confused satire of something, maybe even “what nerds want,” fine — what isn’t Zack Snyder taking seriously? Is it the characters? The action sequences — you don’t think he thinks those are awesome? What?

    (I say “confused,” btw, because it seems to me like every time Zack Snyder answers talks about or answers a question about Sucker Punch [Man of Steel too, for that matter] he says something different, and sometimes even contradicts himself.)

    And unrelated, I get that your opinion is that Warhammer 40k doesn’t have any room for irony (or at least Zack Snyder’s brand of irony) but I don’t agree with that, either. To me, if the Ultramarines were portrayed like the Spartans in 300, that’d be perfect.

  106. One of the main things I like about 300 is its unashamed commitment to it’s own macho philosophy. If I thought it was being satirical (it’s not) I would like it less. The closest Zack Snyder has ever come to satire is SUCKER PUNCH, and even then it’s virtually incomprehensible. Nobody would be talking about it as a scathing satire of nerd culture if Zack Snyder hadn’t spelled out his intentions in interviews, which makes it a failure as satire, in my opinion. And him calling WATCHMEN a satire just makes me think he doesn’t know what satire is.

  107. Suicide Squad is getting an extended cut. Here’s hoping it helps smooths out of the movie’s rough edges.

  108. Suicide Squad Extended Cut [ANNOUNCE]

    The Squad is bigger and badder than ever. Own Suicide Squad Extended Cut on Digital HD 11/15 and Blu-ray 12/13. -- It feels good to be bad...Assemble a team ...

  109. The movie itself is massively flawed but contained a lot of stuff that I liked, much of which could not exist in an overall better (streamlined) version. While I am eager to see more footage/a different cut of the film, extending the running time seems like the opposite of what the movie needs.

  110. Maybe because my expectations weren’t high and I’m watching it at home but Suicide Squad is pretty entertaining. I believe I’m watching the extended cut too.

    This movie kind of reminds me of Rogue One a little bit. I thought they did a better job of getting across the team and why they would work together than they do in Rogue One. I think a scene similar to the bar scene in Suicide Squad in Rogue One would have helped.

  111. It’s kind of a genius idea. The main beef against DC’s movies (not counting “Batman wouldn’t do that!” type fanboy whinging, which I put down there with “The level of water in that character’s drinking glass changes between shots, I hope someone got fired for that blunder” on the scale of “criticisms I give two shits about”) is that the stories are all over the place, more hodgepodges of disparate ideas than coherent arcs. That’s not gonna happen with Mel on the stick. Say what you want about Mel Gibson but the sonofabitch knows story structure.

  112. Oh come on, don’t pretend that this has even a small chance of happening. Even if he would direct paycheck movies.

  113. Just because it’ll never happen doesn’t mean it’s not a great idea.

  114. It would be awesome if Mel got the SS2 gig.

    That DC even asked him is amazing, but him agreeing to talk with them is kinda mind-blowing.

  115. I think Mel would direct a great SUICIDE SQUAD, but I’m certain the studio wouldn’t let him. They’ll completely re-write it in post and edit it into incoherence no matter who directs.

  116. A SUICID SQUAD movie is no more of a sell out than LETHAL WEAPON. Which I don’t mean as a slam – I love the LETHAL WEAPON franchise, with dwindling enthusiasm as it goes along, but still, love. I’m just saying, he’s got a rep for directing more high minded fair, but with his past of many more crowd pleasing movies, I don’t think it’s that far out of left field.

  117. Are they allowing the sequel to be rated R? That’s the biggest question. Otherwise, it’s a total waste of Director Mel.

  118. I can’t imagine Gibson wanting to do a big studio film. Each film he makes clearly comes out of his own particular concerns and worldview, for better and worse. I quite liked Hacksaw Ridge, although I was somewhat surprised by the Oscar nomination. But the awards show nod likely gives him more studio interest and creative freedom for his next film, so it doesn’t seem like he needs to make a superhero film.

    Besides, WB already tapped a director known for unrelenting, grim violence in his movies, and then they proceeded to completely neutered the resulting film. So even if Gibson takes up this rumored offer, I wouldn’t get too excited.

  119. I’m conflicted on the Gibson news and not because he is a controversial figure now. On one hand I do want to see what Gibson-directed mainstream crowd-pleasing spectacle movie looks like (though like others here I’m doubtful they’d let him make it his way) but at the same time I think I’d rather him work on his personal projects.

    Even if compromised, I think it’d be “interesting” to see what a superhero movie by Mel Gibson would be like.

  120. Finally caught up with that. I liked it a lot, in the way how I love certain Cannon productions, SPAWN or other B-movies: Its unironic entertainment value trumps its lack of actual quality. And the cast really saves that thing! Everybody here is on fire! The “worst” is Will Smith, but only he because we’ve seen charming tough guy performances like this from him before. Even Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who spends most of the movie standing in the background, does that with some interesting body language ideas.

    With lesser actors, who would phone their performances in, the movie would be unbearable. Script wise it’s on the same level as something like R.I.P.D., but their obvious fun and chemistry carries the movie. When flaming skullface dude in the end randomly decides that they are now his new family, it doesn’t make any sense on a script level, but it totally makes sense on a “Hey, didn’t you see how much fun they had!?” level and I accept that.

    Just do better next time.

  121. Yeah this one really does get better with age – I saw a bit on HBO and unexpectedly ended up re-watching the whole thing. Stuff that bothered me about it the first time like the embarrassing needle-drops (which mostly stop about halfway through) and the nonsensical plot didn’t irk me this time – hell, I even kinda liked Leto’s Joker- with lower expectations and knowing he’s peripheral to the plot and not an actual important character, you can actually see he’s trying interesting things.

    Robie is still the MVP, but as CJ said, everybody’s on fire here – the story may still be a random mess but there’s enough chemistry and unexpected pathos that involved me emotionally in a way few comic book movies can. (The scene where they catch Harley crying and she quickly goes back to her “crazy girl” schtick is better than 90% of the wink-nudge glibness of the Marvel movies). But yeah, hopefully the next one will actually have a decent story and not rely on the actors to do all the heavy lifting.

  122. I liked Suicide Squad but you guys are way too nice to it. Like, for example, nothing in this movie is better than the worst Marvel movies. I do think Wonder Woman has the potential to be on the upper echelon of superhero movies where I could say “Hey a DC movie is better for once”

    But I still liked Suicide Squad.

    However, I find it highly skeptical that anybody actually likes Spawn.

  123. I really like SPAWN. It’s worse than SUICIDE SQUAD on every level, but every few years it ends up in my DVD player and I never regret it. I just have a high tolerance against bad movies, I guess.

  124. Stern: this nobody film critic fuckin’ LOVED Spawn:

    Spawn Movie Review & Film Summary (1997) | Roger Ebert

    "Spawn'' is best seen as an experimental art film. It walks and talks like a big budget horror film, heavy on special effects and pitched at the teenage audience, and maybe that's how it will be received. But it's more impressive if you ignore the genre and just look at what's on the screen. What we have here are creators in several different areas doing their best to push the envelope. The subject is simply an excuse for their art--just as it always is with serious artists.

  125. I would much rather watch Spawn than spend any more time with Suicide Squad, which I absolutely hated. One of the things that pisses me off about Suicide Squad is that it’s such a perfect concept that should be easy to execute, but somehow they manage to fuck it up anyhow. This movie should have been a slam dunk. When Diablo made that statement about family at the end of the movie, I was embarrassed for everyone involved, including myself as a viewer who was actually excited for this stupid movie.

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