#REVIEW: James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (2021)

It might be useful, before reading my review of the movie called The Suicide Squad, to read a review of another movie that came out in 2016 that was just called Suicide Squad. You are sort of expected to pretend that that movie didn’t happen, even though this movie has several of the same characters portrayed by the same actors and is more or less the exact same movie in terms of the overall story. This is, in some ways, the movie equivalent of a comic book series getting a new #1 issue; yeah, it’s the same people, mostly, and the same idea, mostly, but you can start fresh here if you want to.

Here is the tl;dr review: just like the first movie, this movie is exactly what you think it’s going to be, and if that’s the sort of thing you like, you will like it. You might like it a little more than the first one.

A slightly longer version: The main difference between this movie and the first movie is that this one is (as I remember, at least) a hell of a lot gorier, although it’s always played for laughs if that’s worth anything to you, and James Gunn’s insistence on overusing vocal music as part of the score. The actors are probably of slightly higher quality (hell, Idris Elba and Peter Capaldi are in it) and King Shark is better than any individual element of the earlier Suicide Squad, although I’d have liked them to find a way to give him more underwater scenes. The rivalry between Elba’s Bloodshot and John Cena’s Peacemaker (I think?) is fun, and somehow Polka Dot Man is not only in this movie but he and a girl who can control rats are its emotional heart. I don’t know how that happened but it’s true. This is the third or fourth movie Margot Robbie has played Harley Quinn in, and she fully inhabits the character at this point and I love it.

Fascinatingly, despite lots of actual murdering happening on screen, this movie comes off as much happier and heroic than the Murderverse movies. So that’s a plus too.

Don’t go to a movie theater and get Covid to see this or anything, but HBO Max is cheaper than a pair of movie tickets in most places.

#REVIEW: Birds of Prey

…and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. Because I’m not putting that entire damn title into the headline.

It’s possible that you remember my review of Suicide Squad, way back in 2016 before the world went mad, which was basically “this is exactly the movie you think it is, only maybe 20% better.” Birds of Prey isn’t exactly a sequel to Suicide Squad, but it isn’t not a sequel to Suicide Squad, and in a whole lot of ways it’s exactly the same movie, right down to me being able to basically review it the same way: even if you haven’t seen this movie, you already know what you think about it, because this movie is exactly what it appears to be, and you probably already know what you think of those types of movies. It’s big and kinda dumb and kinda pretty and the acting is a weird combination of interesting and entirely inexplicable and, like most things, it could have been much shorter if Batman had been in it.

Seriously, there’s a bit toward the end where “You’re Harley Quinn, I bet you can find a way to attract Batman’s attention” is easily the best way to solve the problem the characters have, but then they’d have to find a way to stuff his name into that title and it’s already too unwieldy. This was an interesting comic book movie for me to watch, honestly, because despite being a Batman fan in general I actually own very few Batman-related comic books and I really don’t know much about most of these characters beyond the very broadest strokes, and even then I had to look a few people up here and there. The big draw is the action sequences, of course, which are better than a bunch of other comic-book movies I’ve seen, and I found myself a big fan of Jurnee Smollett-Bell’s performance as Black Canary, especially a reveal she gets toward the end.

Ewan McGregor is in it. His performance is … memorable. Yes. I will remember his performance. That is true and accurate. His final scene is also Quite a Thing. Like, “my wife and I both yelled out loud at 11:30 at night when The Thing happened” level Quite a Thing.

If you want to see it, it’s available as a digital rental right now; I would recommend you follow your gut on it. If you think you’ll enjoy it, you probably will and I suggest you check it out. If Harley doesn’t interest you, I don’t think this will help much with that, though. I hear Snowpiercer is going to be a TV show soon; maybe check that out. ūüôā

5:20 PM, Sunday, May 10: 1,326,328 confirmed cases and 79,384 deaths, thankfully not much of a change from yesterday’s numbers, although that’s typical for a Sunday.


maxresdefault.jpgThe short and sweet version of this review¬†I’ve already put on Twitter:¬†SUICIDE SQUAD¬†is basically exactly the movie I thought it was (and it’s probably the movie you think it is, too) except maybe 20% better than I thought it was going to be. ¬†Maybe 15; it’s hard to say.

I’m hard on DC movies. ¬†Basically I’ve hated every film DC has done since, oh, the very first Michael Keaton¬†BATMAN¬†movie, and even that one hasn’t held up terribly well. ¬†I absolutely hated¬†BAT-THEMED NINJA KILLER,¬†and didn’t see either of the sequels, including the one that Heath Ledger was supposedly so good in. ¬†I missed ANGRY ALIEN MURDER DEITY¬†on its opening weekend, decided not to see it based on that opening weekend, and then left the room halfway through when we decided to rent it months later. ¬†If I ever see¬†BAT-THEMED NINJA KILLER VS. ANGRY ALIEN MURDER DEITY, it will be to liveblog how much I hate it. ¬†I would¬†like for DC to make good movies. ¬†I like their characters. ¬†I just wish they’d put their characters¬†in their movies.

Oh, and I’ll probably see¬†WONDER WOMAN. ¬†

But anyway.

There are bits of¬†SUICIDE SQUAD¬†that are interesting. ¬†The acting, especially, is uniformly good, surprisingly so in fact; I enjoyed all of the performances except for Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje’s Killer Croc and Joel Kinnaman’s Patriotic Hero #3; Akinnouye-Agbaje appears to have been given no direction other than “be a shark, only, like,¬†really black, but a white guy’s idea of really black” and Kinnaman’s character is so white and blond that he’s entirely forgettable. ¬†I have no gripes about Jared Leto’s Joker other than that if you’ve seen any ten seconds of his performance you’ve kind of seen the whole thing. ¬†Margot Robbie is fine as Harley Quinn, and Will Smith’s Deadshot is pretty good too. ¬†Cara Delevigne is the standout as the Enchantress, a deeply weird character whose entire character needs to be embodied in physical movement because she doesn’t talk too much. Oh, and they cast Amanda Waller as Amanda Waller somehow. ¬†That was cool.

There’s splody stuff; the splody stuff isn’t bad. ¬†The story is a bit too high-stakes for the movie it’s in; it’s one of those “there is no way other heroes aren’t showing up here” stories, and they make sure to let you know that the destruction takes place over a few days¬†so there’s absolutely no excuse for, for example, the Flash to not show up. ¬†I feel like a good Suicide Squad movie is something covert and deniable, not “hey, go try and fight this mystical world-ending being with, like, your wood baseball bat and a sharpened boomerang, because¬†that’ll work.”

Oh, and Ben Affleck’s chin is in it, too. ¬†Ben Affleck’s chin is the worst thing about Ben Affleck’s Batman. ¬†There’s no way anyone would ever call that guy Batman. ¬†He’d be Chin Guy. ¬†Affleck’s chin looks¬†ridiculous in that costume in a way that no one else’s chin has; I can’t figure out what’s so weird about it.

I dunno. ¬†Ultimately, this wasn’t a bad way to spend two hours, and if you’re inclined to see it but haven’t seen it yet, you probably ought to go ahead and go do that, but if you were inclined to not see it don’t trip over your feet running to the theater either. ¬†I didn’t hate it, which makes it the best DC movie since I was in high school.

Damning with faint praise, I know. ¬†But they can’t all be¬†Iron Man, and they can’t all be¬†Snowpiercer¬†either, y’know?