The Suicide Squad

This review contains minor spoilers

After having seen it, I can see why it might be so highly rated. There is a lot of good lore, and world-building. But, I’m just super divided on it. I think it would have been much more enjoyable if there wasn’t so much self-gratification of American propaganda. If they didn’t keep fluffing themselves to be the savior. The story takes place on the fictional island of Corto Maltese aka basically Cuba. It honestly didn’t even bother to disguise that fact. And now a group of Americans are going to save this poor third-world country from a tyrannical president and military coup (which in all likelihood was implemented by a similar American agency that sent out the Suicide Squad.) However, we don’t want that to be too obvious so we’ll include a third-act bad guy to switch our antagonist to. See, James Gunn can write twists.

Awhile back there were some tweets regarding James Gunn, and having seen much of what he calls humor in this film, I now understand why there was a bad light cast on him. That kind of humor doesn’t change, that kind of fetish for underage jokes. And wow, the sheer amount of children jokes or children being threatened to be killed is high. Like the first was admittedly funny, but then it just kept going. Beating a dead horse. Like Tarantino gets off on feet, James Gunn has a disturbing and morbid humor involving underage minors. Oh, I’m sure the message of ‘killing kids is a big red flag’ is understandable, but why even the need to bring it up? (Probably to make the audience understand that Amanda Waller is a worse villain than the team she creates).

The interactions between all the characters was great, it was humorous. Witty, intelligent. There was a finesse to some of the action scenes. The gore and violence was creative and felt like scenes out of comic book pages, and then other scenes were far too gratuitous. Some scenes added absolutely nothing except made me think this is some sort of satanic ritual to be filmed. Spoiler. Bad dudes burn down a giant bird cage and you get to listen to the birds’ screams. This scene infuriated me. NOTHING was gained as a viewer. I didn’t think that the general was worse than he already was. It didn’t symbolize anything, not even the president’s ideals being burned away. It was pure evil for no reason at all. Sorry, pardon my French, but how fucked are you in the head to think up that scene?

Was the movie weird? Yes. And it often felt forced. Like it was being weird just for the sake of being weird. I bought into the hype reading actor’s interviews and tsk. I’m disappointed. Some of the scenes are incredibly stupid, like Harley’s escape. Yes, guys with assault rifles will all single file and one at a time approach and not at all think to shoot their guns. Idris Elba was strong as Bloodsport. His character similar to Will Smith’s in the first movie. Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher2 was also quite strong in her role, brought what limited emotional impact she could. John Cena as Peacemaker was a walking metaphor for the USA. He was a caricature, two dimensional or even one. There was no depth to his character. The fact they’re making a show with his character is a joke.

Overall, half of me hates it. It’s a sick, twisted adventure from a disturbed mind. Sure, you can always try to find beauty in madness, but I’m going to stay away from this. I’m not gonna judge you for watching this movie, or if you immensely enjoyed it. And the other half of me liked some parts. I liked the jokes and self-awareness between characters. Actually, that’s all I liked. Anyways, my review won’t stop you from watching it if you’re already keen on doing so. You’ll probably dismiss it as rambling. I’m sick of these metaphors, messaging – subliminal or otherwise. Nothing I want more than to shut my brain off and enjoy but I can’t help but see the social programming plugging away.


Justice League: The Snyder Cut

Where does one begin with this 4 hour epic? Do we discuss the runtime? Ah, I know. The comparison to the theatrical release. The version that was, without a doubt, butchered by Joss Whedon. Reportedly he had reshoots for 75% of the film. The result was a complete tonal difference from Snyder’s vision, like a Batman the quips jokes in the face of danger. Then we had his misogyny at play when Flash clumsily fell on top of Wonder Woman and his face landed between her breasts. Just not a good time. So much character development was cut in favor of constantly moving the narrative forwards. Cyborg and Flash’s entire origins and personal growth were cut, and Flash was reduced to a side gimmick to deal with a Russian family while a major battle is happening.

Snyder’s vision is immediately restored in the opening credits with a dark scene unfolding showcasing Superman’s death from the previous movie, and the shockwave from his death cry cascading across the planet. It sets up purpose as to why these dimension hopping soldiers of destruction invade Earth. The stage is shown for how truly powerful Superman is. The fear he brings to his enemies. From there, the plot establishes each of the superheroes. Arthur Curry is a kind man who helps those in need and he’s idolized by those he helps. And true to his character, not yet grown, he is not beholden to the surface or the oceans. He is his own man. Wonder Woman is a force for good who is not scared of killing her enemies or those that wish to do harm. Nor is she afraid of brutalizing them in defense of the innocent while still inspiring young girls to be anything they aspire to.

The Flash is a young man, Barry Allen, who takes random jobs here and there to fund his tuition for being a criminal justice student. He does so in order to find a way to save his father from prison, for a crime he did not commit. Barry is lighthearted and full of empathy and wonder. His powers are showcased in a short scene in which he saves a young girl from a car accident. This scene helps establish who he is, and provides a feeling of an origin. Cyborg has his entire arc reinstated. A young man lost in the world, feeling like a monster and resenting his father’s choices. His mother dead in an accident and him left clinging to life. His father breaking every ethical and moral scientific law to save his son however he can. Both Flash and Cyborg are similar in that they yearn for their fathers. This feeling is easily identifiable with, and helps humanize these otherwise otherworldly characters.

The movie does a phenomenal job at bringing all these different characters together for a singular purpose of defending the planet. Each character has a soul to them, they feel fleshed out and not merely caricatures of the comic book characters they represent. They have depth, and growth in an arc. Even Batman! “Faith, Alfred. Faith.” A man who previously would take even the smallest chance that someone could be his enemy and acted on it, rather than having faith that they could be a force for good. Talk about a turnaround. Together, they save the planet from the villain Steppenwolf and we, the audience, have a blast watching this wild ride.

Steppenwolf has actual purpose this time around. He is no longer a creepy dude that calls those boxes “Mother.” He merely wants to get back into the good graces of his Master, Darkseid – A god of destruction and death from another dimension. To that end, he strives to find the three Mother Boxes and to reunite them to create a calamity known as the unity – a cataclysmic event to scorch the planet and purge it of all life. Therefore making way for Darkseid to come and claim his grand prize. Even Steppenwolf’s appearance is a huge step up, wearing armor that seemingly reacts to his thoughts. The theatrical cut feels like an afterthought of bad CGI.

The movie itself is presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio which gives the appearance of old cartoons. It invokes a similar feeling to watching animated shows on a Saturday morning. The score is heavy rock interspersed with each of the character’s themes. It gives weight to each battle, no matter how small and gets the blood pumping in anticipation. There are several scenes across the entire movie that serve no purpose in moving the narrative forwards but instill a sense of lore and weight for these characters. It helps establish and maintain the mythic feeling of several such as the Amazons or the Atlanteans.

Even Superman is changed, maybe not for the better but definitely more nuanced in that he’s a man (alien) reborn and thus no longer what he once was. This is even symbolized through the black costume he wears. He toys with his enemies and brings them extra agony than they would get normally. He’s got a bit of darkness in his heart and Lois Lane is the only thing that brings him back to the light.

There are plenty more references and nuances to be found within the movie that brings joy to fans, and continues to help establish this universe of superheroes. Overall, it’s a great and markedly improved version compared to the theatrical. It’s got heart, soul, and purpose. But is it what fans truly want of their childhood heroes? I’d say it’s not, but it is a great vision to have seen come to fruition. Zack Snyder definitely put his own twist on these characters and for this movie, it works. For the comic book characters that were represented, I’d say it’s a departure. That being said, did I enjoy the movie? Yes, I did. Despite its length, it held well. It had merits. It even set up the possibility for more. Would I want to see this reality explored further? No, I would not. Would I recommend this movie for fans of DC superheroes? Yes, I’d say definitely watch it and forget there ever was a theatrical cut.


We can be Heroes

Robert Rodriguez is back with another story set within the universe he created with Sharkboy and Lavagirl, and it is definitely not a movie for adults or teens. It is made for children and it shows. I, myself, was bored to tears but I could see how a child would thoroughly enjoy the spectacle. The only high quality that was to be found here was the casting of Priyanka Chopra and Pedro Pascal, both of whom helped elevate what little there was to feel like something more than a Saturday morning cartoon. A lot of the movie was referencing the Avengers, down to the giant ‘H’ on the hero’s headquarters’ building instead of a giant ‘A’ and the fact that alien invaders came to destroy earth. Even the disharmony amongst the adult heroes was reminiscent of the recent marvel movies.

The good part was the moral message repeated throughout, that only by teamwork and working together with the people alongside you can you succeed. Also that by believing in yourself and others believing in you, can you succeed in whatever you excel at. The ending was particularly nice and an enjoyable twist on an otherwise formulaic story. The powers of the parents and of the children was zany to say the least, and a couple of them had some original powers but for the most part, the powers are what viewers have been conditioned to enjoy by various comic book industries. The acting itself was good overall, the children were fine in their respective roles with the exception of the child that played the character known as facemaker. He was lacking but I imagine it was more to do with the simplicity of the script and the writing.

Overall, it’s a great movie for kids to watch and enjoy with their parents though they might not be as entertained as their children would be. The special effects were nothing good or particularly flashy, but served enough to establish the events that unfolded. As an adult, I’ll be honest, Priyanka Chopra was all that kept me going in watching. She’s undeniably beautiful and was a treat to watch.