“Suicide Squad” – Worst. Heroes. Ever.

The first trailer for this movie came out what, a year ago? I’ve never been a comic book reader but I’ve always been a huge fan of Batman movies, so why wouldn’t I be all jazzed about a film revolving around the villains of the DC universe? After more trailers started to come out, I had my reservations about certain things I thought I’d be seeing. The Joker’s appearance was the biggest point of contention but also how well a movie where Batman takes a backseat could perform under the stress of a super “hero” movie. Lucky me, I snagged a seat last Thursday night for a late night screening.
Here are some words about it.12489243_1674589672821667_4430624289856009994_o

Talk about a stacked cast. With heavy hitters like Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, and Jai Courtney this seemed destined to be excellent. Despite receiving a pretty low rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I was not displeased by any means. And the film is clearly doing alright. I had a few issues with the outcome, but I don’t know if a lot of these can be attributed to the fact that I’m not a comic book lover so take all of this with a grain of salt. I saw it with my roommate and he thought it was amazing, so clearly some opinions differ here.

First, the pros. So many superhero films have started with some sort of origin story taking up a good quarter or more of the film. Thankfully with “Batman v. Superman” that wasn’t the case and it seems that DC is taking the hint. While “Suicide Squad” does have an “origin” story as to the first team being formed, the members of the team are all introduced with backstory less than five minutes long. Thank you. Within minutes we’re off the ground running, getting to know and love these quirky misfits without drudging through long minutes of who they are. Speaking of, here’s a little breakdown in case you have no idea what this movie’s about and are confused about me mixing the word “Suicide” with Batman.

  • So, we’ve got Deadshot (Will Smith). He’s a trained assassin with any kind of firearm, and his claim to fame is that he’s never missed a mark (except Batman, but that’s more from the comics/series). He just wants to get custody of his daughter back.
  • Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). Created specifically for the animated series, this is her feature debut as the Joker’s lover. Psychiatrist turned loon, she’s basically a watered down, female version of the Joker. Don’t get me wrong though, Margot Robbie KILLED it as Harley and with talks of a spinoff in the works, I’d gladly sign up to see that. Plus she’s easy on the eyes.
  • What Batman film is complete without the Joker (Jared Leto)? Filling those shoes was a big task, especially following the likes of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger (and even Mark Hamill). Leto’s take on the character was a new one, instead choosing to rock body tattoos and a silver grill in lieu of the purple coat and wide grin. He seemed to be more of a cracked out gangster than the “Clown Prince of Crime” we’re so used to having. More on this later.
  • Someone obviously has to be in charge of these guys, so enter Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). Again, having not read any comics, I’m sure she has a much larger role in the DC Universe that I’m just unaware of. But Davis did a great job being overbearing, strict, and no-monkey-business while retaining the professional air of a government official. Solid casting choice.
  • Every squad needs a leader and that fell to Captain Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman). The only non-“villain” character from the squad starts off butting heads with the other members but winds up being a guy we can feel for, and more importantly the squad can listen to.
  • Lastly I want to talk about Boomerang (Jai Courtney). This is another villain I never knew of until seeing the animated “Assault on Arkham”, which is another Suicide Squad film from a few years ago. Boomerang is an Aussie thief who’s calling card is hucking a boomerang at his enemies. Sounds lame except these things wind up being somewhat lethal, but he’s added more for comic relief.

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If you had no preconceived notion of who these guys were, this might seem cool enough to go see anyway.

So there you have it, a decent line up of actors in what turned out to be a pretty entertaining film. It wasn’t exactly what the trailers sold to us but I would definitely see it again and hope for a sequel, or at least cameos in future DC films.

DIRECTOR’S CUT: Supervillains seen as Superheroes. A new take on the Joker that didn’t quite sit right. A film that winds up playing like a comic book. If you’re a fan of the comic books or the actors, see it. There isn’t a whole lot you need to know going into the theater and it’s already on track to have a huge 2016 run.

SCENE COLLECTED: It’s actually a really subtle scene but the way it was shot was pretty cool to me. When Dr. June Moon summons Enchantress during a meeting, her hand is lightly touching a table when all of a sudden it looks like someone is grabbing hold of it from below, then the hands spin over and Enchantress is now in the room. This probably doesn’t make any sense to anyone reading this now, but once you see the film you’ll understand what I’m referring to.

FLICKCHART RATING: 451/2376

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“The Dark Knight Rises” – The Legend Ends

There have been many “Batman” movies over the years and while many of them may stick out as “original” or “the best because Christopher Walken is in it”, two stand above the rest for me. These two are “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm”, which was the first animated Batman feature based off the animated TV show, and Christopher Nolan’s first in the trilogy, “Batman Begins”. Both showed a darker side to Batman and what he actually had to deal with besides living in a huge mansion with an all-knowing butler, and different sides of how he got his start. That being said, Nolan’s end to his trilogy went back to these roots and dealt with the fear that Bruce Wayne has to deal with while being the caped crusader.

I believe that you have to take “The Dark Knight Rises” with a grain of salt, and for several reasons. The first of which being that had Heath Ledger not died the Joker definitely would have been involved, if not as the main villain again, in this film. But due to the untimely death of the great actor a new villain had to be chosen. Bane is by far not one of my favorite baddies, but Nolan’s take on him is not at all what you would expect. If you read his Wikipedia page and then see the movie, you’ll notice the differences between the two characters. This brings me to my second grain of salt; Bane’s voice. While this may have very little to do with the character (Bane is usually represented as a Mexican/Spaniard wrestler type), and even though Tom Hardy is an immaculate actor, Bane comes off sounding like a British lord in the film. Even though he’s wearing a mask that already makes it hard to understand what he’s saying, Hardy’s thick British brogue makes for someone you’d rather refer to as Lord Byron Funkleroy. It also became a bit too much for me at times as I couldn’t understand him in some scenes, and this was bad because I saw the movie in Spain and had to revert to the Spanish subtitles just to translate what he was saying…in English.

Ok, now that the “bad” things are out of the way I’ll focus on what made this movie great. The previous Batman films, like the Brosnan “James Bond” films, seemed to focus way too much on bank robberies, crappy one-liners, and weird gadgets used by villains that didn’t actually harm people in the end. Nolan’s trilogy features bad guys out to hurt innocent people and more importantly, test Batman’s physical and psychological strength. Bane does exactly that and possibly more than any of the previous bad dudes. The premise of the film is that eight years have passed since Batman rode away on his sick bat-bike, being chased by the cops for the supposed murder of Harvey Dent/Two Face in “The Dark Knight”. When Bane suddenly appears and threatens to destroy Gotham from the inside out, Batman is needed again so Bruce must once again take up the cape and cowl and rush to his city’s defense. Unfortunately it’s not that simple as Bane is not only friggin’ huge, but also cunning and well backed. Without giving too much away Bruce Wayne winds up in his biggest challenge yet and at one point is forced to watch Gotham slowly rip itself apart.

Now something that I was skeptical about from the get go was the addition of Catwoman. She’s an adversary who is just…hard to believe. But as always, if you put your faith in Nolan, he will deliver. Anne Hathaway (total babe) plays the cat burglar (get it?) and the only tie to being Catwoman is because she wears some high tech goggles on her head that tend to look like cat ears. Other than that she fits the bill for playing all the angles, as she tends to do, and naturally screwing things up for Batman from time to time. Besides her we also get John Blake, an up and coming cop who has deduced Batman’s true identity but wants to uphold the law just as badly. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the part brilliantly, and I have no doubt in my mind that Nolan picked him after working together in “Inception”. It is actually due to JGL’s performance and character that the movie was completely made for me by the time the credits were rolling. The movie rounds out at almost three hours long so there were definitely parts where I was waiting for more action to occur, but I will admit that the last four minutes of the film are by far the very best and I’m pretty sure I got more goosebumps during that than I did when I first saw “Jurassic Park” (those who know me will understand this).

DIRECTOR’S CUT: Even if you aren’t a fan of comic book movies, see these three films. They are more than that and they show that Christopher Nolan is truly a master of his craft, and that there are still directors out there who care more about story and their fans than a paycheck.

FLICKCHART RATING: 36/1919 (“Batman Begins” is currently rated 35…how about that)