“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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“A Good Day to Die Hard” – Like Father. Like Son. Like Hell.

It’s not uncommon to see franchises spinning out sequels to just about anything these days, which is quite unfortunate and I don’t think I need to explain why. However every once in awhile a decent one shows up, not necessarily better than the last or the original, but entertaining to say the least. Being a big fan of the “Die Hard” series it was hard to turn down the chance to see “A Good Day to Die Hard”…so I didn’t. I said “Yippee Ki-Yay”. Well actually, I just said “Sure, why not.”

A Good Day to Die Hard

If you haven’t seen the “Die Hard” films, I apologize as they are rather essential 80’s and 90’s action flicks, not to mention Bruce Willis at his very best. So when “Live Free or Die Hard” came out several years ago, that was kind of “our” generation’s version. Now depending on who you ask, they may tell you that it was incredibly terrible and not at all an homage to the great action prequels. Or they may tell you that it was an excellent revamp to the series and a fresh way to keep it going. You could find me in the latter. So several years later when this new addition came out I, while feeling that Willis may be starting to get a tad old, still had to see it if not out of principle. I’ve got to say, it did exactly what movies are meant to do; entertain. The plot was simple enough to follow and it had exactly what I wanted it to have, including tons of explosions. Were parts of it unbelievable? Sure. Was his catch-phrase forced and “meh” worthy? Of course. Was it balls to the wall, action-packed, ass-kickery? Duh.

The basic outline of each “Die Hard” film is that John McClane (Willis) always finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. This film is probably the most pin-pointed example of that seeing as he winds up in Russia. The movie starts with a few clips of some guy shooting another guy in a Russian club and then getting sent to prison. Then we flash back to New York where McClane is then told the plot to his own movie; get to Russia and get your son (newcomer Jai Courtney) out of trouble. Already this is a solid connector to the original trilogy since it’s mentioned several times that he has kids, and Lucy McClane (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) was a central character in the last installment. So John heads to Russia, and within minutes things are already blowing up, as they should be. The story takes off from there and of course it gets a little far-fetched near the end, but who sees a “Die Hard” movie for the story? I read some of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes before going to see it, and I couldn’t understand why so many reviewers were panning the lack of “story” and how many plot-holes there seemed to be. If you want story, go see “Avatar”, or “Dances with Wolves”, or “Fern Gully”…wait…

urlIf you’re a fan of the previous four movies then you know that this is completely normal for John McClane.

I apologize but this is going to turn into a bit of a rant real quick. People need to stop seeing movies, expecting to get something enlightening from each one they go to. In the olden days movies were made to entertain, and that was it. I will admit that some educate, but that’s rare as “based on a true story” means pretty much nothing nowadays. “A Good Day to Die Hard”, actually the whole series for that matter, is there to entertain us with explosions, awesome gun fights, and the most American hero we have on the big screen. When the movie ended I felt like just like I had after walking out of “Live Free or Die Hard”, and that one had Bruce Willis “tap-dancing on a jet” (quoted from my good friend Joey, who if memory serves didn’t really enjoy it). Point is folks, don’t get caught up in “Oh I don’t know, I think my Jane Austen book will be more ‘realistic'” train of thought. John McClane is back and is still solid in my book, despite what the the other reviewers say. Do yourself, and America, a favor and go see Bruce Willis do what he does best.

DIRECTOR’S CUT: Even if this was somehow rated PG-13 like the last one, it still would have been pretty awesome. And the highway chase scene in the beginning is totally worth it.

FLICKCHART RATING: 1013/1992