Sound Off! is meant to be a group of reactions, but not necessarily a review. After all, while we are all individuals, even mutual love of something (or hate) can come from different places. You may find everything from critique to fangirling to maybe even hate-watching, but it’s safe to say that if you haven’t yet seen Suicide Squad and you read this post, you WILL be spoiled in some form or fashion.
Now, join Nancy, Nicole, J.L. Gribble, and Casey as they talk about Suicide Squad!
Nancy: After being disappointed with the first two offerings, I found myself wondering why I was, once again, sitting in a theater, waiting for another DCEU movie to start.
The answer? It was all about hope.
In a way, it’s always been about hope. Hope that DC would be able to create a cinematic universe as immersive and enjoyable as Marvel. Hope that this universe would be as addictive as the DC shows on the CW. Hope that the films would be as good as their slick trailers suggested. Unfortunately, when it came to Man of Steel, and Batman v Superman, these hopes were mercilessly crushed under Zack Snyder’s stylized, slow-motion heel.
Fortunately, Suicide Squad turned out to be different.
Don’t get me wrong. I can see why this movie is so divisive. It has some pretty massive problems, including its over-stuffed chaos factory of a script. It was a bit of a challenge to turn off my critical brain and just sit back and enjoy the movie. I found my attention plagued by my own confused questions. Why did Deadshot and Harley Quinn get not one, but two introductory scenes? Where is Katana? How many people are sitting at this table again? When did Deadshot’s powerset expand to include speed-reading? And what’s up with all the belly dancing?
But even with the movie’s many problems, it managed to get the most important thing right. I truly cared for these characters. Margo Robbie brings a playful, theatrical madness to Harley Quinn, making her shine in every one of her scenes. Will Smith’s famous charisma is turned up to eleven, and the level of chemistry he shares with his castmates (especially Robbie’s Harley, and Joel Kinneman’s Rick Flag) is infectious. El Diablo ends up being the hidden heart of the film. Viola Davis’s Amanda Waller is every bit as despicable as she should be. And Jai Courtney (Captain Boomerang) isn’t boring!
It’s true there are missteps. To my frustration, Katana finds herself the newest member of the underused Asian characters club (alongside Batman v Superman’s Mercy Graves, and both Jubilee and Psylocke from X-Men: Apocalypse). And while I have no issue with Jared Leto’s performance as the Joker, there’s no denying that the shadow cast by previous versions of the character, is really freaking long. Bringing in Harley Quinn helps to differentiate him from previous movie Jokers. Their relationships is incredibly magnetic, and I’m really curious to see where the director decides to take them (both together, and apart) in future films.
Suicide Squad isn’t a perfect movie, but I emerged from the theater, with hopes uncrushed. I loved the charismatic cast of characters, and felt like the humor (humor! A DC movie with a sense of humor!) landed really well. So while it can feel like a discount Guardians of the Galaxy at times, this fangirl found Suicide Squad to be a promising step in the right direction.
Hopefully, the DC team can do even better with next year’s Wonder Woman film.
Nicole: Here we are. Suicide Squad. The movie people have been talking about for so long I’ve lost track of how long it’s actually been. I’d heard a lot of polarizing reviews on it — either a lot of hate, or a lot of “it was fun.” I figured I’d fall into that second camp, and indeed that’s exactly what happened.
You’ve got a group of bad guys who are going to be sent into a do-or-die situation and there’s going to be a lot of chaos. There was plenty of that. The movie had the tricky job of fitting in some characterization before getting to said chaos, and frankly I think it did what it could, especially given how many they decided to chuck in there. True, Boomerang could have easily disappeared from the movie and no one would have missed him (save fans of the comics), but hey, he provided a few giggles here and there. The same could be said of Katana, although who doesn’t love a kickass sword-wielding woman?
The story was pretty simplistic, but given that something had to happen after project Task Force X (the squad) got greenlit and we’d already sat through an interesting plethora of backstories, it was time to get things moving. And I was okay with all of that. It’s not the best thing I’ve seen, but it’s most certainly not the worst. I had a good time, and the best bits were — surprise, surprise — moments that included Harley and the Joker. Ah, the love of the functionally insane. I quite enjoyed Leto’s version of him, with his rings and chains and flashy outfits. It was a fresh look that I wasn’t sure I was going to like when I first saw the trailers, and I’m glad it worked out. Despite hearing that there wasn’t much of him in the movie, I found myself thinking the opposite. There was more than I expected and I really hope to see more of those two in the future.
I walked out satisfied and feel that I’ll probably end up liking it more as time goes by. It fits comfortably into my personal category of “Dumb But Fun” movies and, official favorite movies aside, those are the ones I tend to watch the most.
J.L. Gribble: It’s been over a week since I saw DC’s Suicide Squad, but it’s taken me a bit to get my thoughts about it in some semblance of order. I think the problem is twofold. There’s the movie I saw. And there was the movie I really wanted to see. Suicide Squad should have ticked all of my ensemble movie must-haves. Pulling together a disparate group of characters who must combine their skills to fight the Big Bad. Some morally gray characters who experience character development but still end the film morally gray. Epic fight scenes with spectacular special effects against an apparently unstoppable foe.
Wait. I just described my favorite movie of all time: Marvel’s The Avengers. And therein lies the problem. Marvel’s movies, to this point, have been proactive. DC’s movies have been reactive. “Oh! Marvel created a thing with some really passionate people that turned out really well and made lots of money! We have to do the same thing, but make sure that every aspect of it get stripped of all life and soul as we run it by multiple committees to make sure it does all the same things as Marvel.”
Okay, I might be exaggerating. But all I could think about while watching Suicide Squad was that the film could have been so much better. It had so much potential, but it was a mess. I didn’t care about any of the characters, I thought the plot was absurd, and I had no idea what the big deal about this incarnation of the Joker was all about (I could have done with less of him, honestly). The special effects and fight scenes were pretty badass, but even that falls flat when the rest of the movie gives me no reason to care about the outcomes of any of the characters.
I wasn’t a big fan of the Superman movies, but that’s because I’m not a big fan of Superman. I thought Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was okay. And in the end, I thought Suicide Squad was just okay, too. I’m still really excited for Wonder Woman, but that’s because she was my favorite part of BvS and I’m interested in a WWI period piece. But at the same time, I’m also prepared to be let down again. And if that’s the way so many of their fans are approaching their projects, DC needs to take a hard look at how they are approaching their films, too.
Casey: So, Suicide Squad. This was the first movie I saw on opening night in a long, long time. I had extremely high hopes. By and large, those hopes were never, ever going to be met. I’m a stickler for book-to-film adaptations sometimes, even though I try hard not to be. While I understand the need to raise the tension, many of the choices made with the film didn’t work well. For example, none of the trailers even hinted at who the actual villain of the piece was going to be. It was misleading in a pretty significant way. Had this been a second or third movie in a series? It would have been a fantastic villain. The mission should have been something closer to what the comic series did, or even to attempt to take out the Joker (which is what it seriously looked like it was going to be AND would have raised all sorts of moral dilemmas for Harley, and maybe given her a boot towards the direction that her current storyline is going in the comic ‘verse). Prior to seeing the movie, I was most interested in seeing Katana and Harley Quinn, and in that I was not disappointed. Then when I found out that Viola Davis had signed on as Amanda Waller? I WAS IN. Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Karen Fukuhara, and even Jared Leto did a fantastic job in their roles (Bonus! Keep an eye out for the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance by Ezra Miller as The Flash, who will be in next year’s Justice League — how’s that for a fun Easter egg!). The other actors, save Will Smith, were adequate. Smith, though…OK, so I have this theory that Smith’s unable to prevent any non-serious role that he’s in from turning into the Will Smith Show, and that irritates me a great deal. Yes, he added some humor and life to Deadshot, so yay, but at the expense of what could have been a great role for almost any other actor. So much of the cast was wildly underused. Deadshot gave more than one serious monologue. One of those monologues could have gone to anybody else.
So did I like it? Yes. I did. In retrospect, I believe that the movie did what it set out to do: entertain. The problem is that this felt like a huge bowl of cotton candy. Looks like you’re going to get a whole lot of fun, but in the end, it’s fluffy sugar. I really, really, REALLY hope that we get a director’s cut or some sort of extended edition when the DVD/Blu-ray come out. There’s so much potential, and rumor has it that hours of additional footage exists. I’m not sure that we’ll see a sequel, but the tease at the end gives me a small thread of hope that maybe, just maybe, it might happen. I hope so.