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- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – A Movie Review
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I am not a movie reviewer. I have no formal training and I have little background knowledge save being a lover of pop culture. I rankle when I believe a film is knowing, condescending superior and I rankle when I believe a film goes for the easiest plot contrivance, easiest joke, easiest way out.
I go to movies I want to see. I often go to them on opening weekends so that my impressions of them and my reactions to them won’t be spoiled by others’.
I was mystified by the negative backlash Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice created. The film currently resides at 27% on Rotten Tomatoes. I really enjoyed that movie. I am similarly mystified by the reaction to Suicide Squad which rests at 26% on Rotten Tomatoes.
I agree that Batman V Superman is a better film. I loved Batman V Superman. I am shocked by the gleefully bad press that Suicide Squad has generated.
That’s not to say the movie is perfect and getting a Five-Something Review from me. It’s not.
There are two major negatives with which I’ll quickly dispense. First, the primary antagonist of the movie (the identity of whom I will not reveal), the force the Squad battles in the last act is not very good. In fact, the antagonist is laughably bad. Calling to mind images of Galactus in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer or Parallax in Green Lantern is not what a movie villain should do. I don’t mean to suggest the antagonist is a formless cloud (maybe that would have been better), it’s just so out of context in the film and out of place that it breaks any continuity the movie had. It clashes with the predominant vibe writer/director David Ayer seemed be trying to create.
That very vibe is the second negative in the film. When Batman V Superman failed to impress and was criticized for its dark themes and tones, Warner Bros. studio executives seemed to panic and order Suicide Squad into extensive re-shoots to add humor and lighten the proceedings. Look, I understand that, even though its tone worked for some, audiences were expecting something lighter from Batman V Superman than what they got. But Suicide Squad? Shouldn’t Suicide Squad be edgy? Shouldn’t it have it’s own tone that trends to darkness as opposed to light? It’s called “Suicide” Squad, not “Superfriends” Squad. The re-shoots and additions (some of which are so atonal and out-of-place) detract from what I assume was Ayer’s original vision. The director has said this is his cut of the movie. I think he’s being a good solider. I think his vision got a bit mangled.
So, what works? The four major characters all work. Deadshot (a very enjoyable Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie somehow straddles a tightrope between exploitation and empowerment which will likely earn the character her own film), the Joker (Jared Leto goes full method and leaves the audience wanting more) and Amanda Waller (played with seething passion and dangerous, unpredictable intelligence by Viola Davis) are terrific. They are also terrific fun. Magnetic individually, they are even more fun together, playing off one another. This feels like a movie the cast enjoyed making (Jared Leto’s bizarre eccentricities aside) and that energy shows. They are having fun and seem to think the audience will be having fun with them.
For the most part, I did. I liked the Dirty Dozen set up. I loved the introductions of the characters. I was very pleased by how the movie established itself in the post-Batman V Superman DC universe. I enjoyed the cameos by Ben Affleck’s Batman and… no. That would be telling.
I had a lot of fun during Suicide Squad. It has some inventive set pieces and some genuinely funny moments. I found myself wanting to be swept up in its crazy ride and, for the most part, I was.
But Act Three features one good twist (which, unfortunately, was telegraphed a little too clearly) and one (two?) terrible villain. The type of adversary the Squad is called in to face is the exact opposite kind of adversary a group of this type should be sent to confront. Superhero movies aren’t documentaries. They don’t have to hold up to type of intellectual analysis that can be applied (let’s remember that Zemo’s plan in Captain America: Civil War relied on a functioning VCR… in Siberia… in 2016!). They do have to have some kind of internal logic. Act Three of Suicide Squad fails on this count.
But it succeeds on many other points, more than enough to be an enjoyable and diverting two hours spent in a burgeoning superhero universe. Come for the performances. Stay for the group dynamics and cameos. Go Pee during Act Three.
SUICIDE SQUAD receives THREE and a HALF explosive nano-tech devices out of a possible FIVE.