Reviewed by Nicolas Nagaoka
As the summer comes to a close, it is time to look back on what was expected to be DC Comics triumphant return to the big screen: Suicide Squad. Too bad that Suicide Squad was a good film that shot itself in the foot… several times. Directed by David Ayer and starring Will Smith, Margo Robbie, Viola Davis, and Jared Leto, Suicide Squad spastically tells the story of a team of death row convicts who are forced to work together and take on the missions no one else wants to.
I want to preface this review by stating that Suicide Squad is not the worst film ever made as some critics and moviegoers are claiming. However, even I can recognize that this film is deeply flawed and there are errors present that fanatics of DC Comics have chosen to ignore. I am a DC Comics fan and have been a fan of Batman and his infamous cast of villains for a long time now. Due to this particular bias, I will be giving this film two separate scores. One is for the comic book fans who may be interested in watching. The other is for the average movie-goer who knows nothing of the Batman universe. I feel this would be a much more fair rating for this particular film.
This film has its good parts, specifically the Suicide Squad’s interactions by Will Smith and Margo Robbie. Anytime the Suicide Squad has time to just chat with themselves about life and doing the mission they need to do, the writing is fantastic. It is funny, emotional, and the best the film has to offer. The bar sequence is the best scene in the film. The performances by Robbie and Smith are fantastic, especially Smith. Will Smith portrays a humanistic but hardened mercenary known as Deadshot. His performance is emotional, but has that classic Will Smith charm to it, making a humorous, but relatable character. Margo Robbie is incredible as Harley Quinn. She is confident and has fun with the role, even when the writing goes bad. She is childish, but in a fun and entertaining manner.
However, the film has many flaws. To start, the story is rushed and boring. The beginning of the film is so quickly run through that you barely understand what is being presented to you. The film jumps between characters so quickly that there is no time to care for why they should be your heroes in this film. The only people who get any measure of meaningful exposure is Deadshot (Will Smith), and Harley Quinn (Margo Robbie). Even then, it is difficult to count Quinn’s backstory as meaningful due to horrendous editing and special effects that makes the backstory incredibly difficult to understand, much less relate to it. The rest of the squad is thrown under the bus, and are only given cookie-cutter stereotypes as development. The angry Hispanic gangster, the African-American southern stereotype, a Japanese honor driven warrior stereotype, and even the US Army America man from every Transformers movie makes an appearance. No one is given time or effort, and for those that are, it is so little time that it seems unfair. Even the villain isn’t saved from bland writing and motivation. It’s another ancient evil that is resurrected because humans tried to control it, which has been done too many times. The irony is that Suicide Squad is meant to be a break from stereotypes, they are supposed to be unique and fun, not bland and overdone. The film is poorly paced with too many jump cuts and nauseating transitions. The action sequences suffer from being way to dark, and shaky camera work. However, to me, the biggest problem of this film’s story is the Joker (Jared Leto). Not only is this a terrible portrayal of one of the most infamous comic book villains, but this is a terrible performance overall. Jared Leto has no idea what he is doing on screen. This Joker is pretentious, annoying, and worst of all, not threatening. There is no way to convince me to take this performance seriously. Jared Leto looks like the embodiment of a Hot Topic house of horrors. Nothing is right with this character, not the design, not the acting, not even his infamous maniacal laugh. This character feels forced as the only task he gets is to progress the story. There is nothing redeemable about this character, which is made worse by the fact that this is a terrible portrayal of what a fantastic Joker is meant to be.
This is not the worst film ever made. Aside from all the story and character problems, choppy editing, horrendous pacing, and Jared Leto, this film was still somewhat fun. I do regret spending money to see it, but I do not regret seeing it. Suicide Squad is a fun time, even if the fun is in small portions of the film. Just be prepared to sit through a lot of boring and bland, to get to the spunky and hilarious.
Comic Book Fan Rating: 3/10 Bad Film
Moviegoer Rating: 5/10 Average Film
Reviewed by Nick D’Alessandro
This film is set in a dystopian world where being single is simply not allowed. If you are single, you are sent to the Hotel, where you are forced to mingle and flirt with the sex you are attracted to. If you do not find a partner within that time period, you are turned into an animal (which you get to choose) and that’s that. This film follows David (Colin Farrell), whose wife has just left him. His animal of choice is the eponymous lobster. John C. Reilly and Ben Whishaw provide other points of views as other men in the Hotel. They deliver some truly strange performances. Rachel Weisz comes in as a love interest later on in the movie and brings perspective to this film which veers off course right when you think you understand what’s happening.
This film lost me at various points. I always felt like I understood where the metaphor was headed, but felt like the directors were trying to say too much at once. I understand that the director made the characters incredibly strangely so as to parody the robotic way modern romance can be, but it feels unsettling rather than funny. A couple of moments are so dark that you can’t help but laugh. Yet, that seems to be the problem with the film. It never quite settles into one tone, so you’re never sure if you’re supposed to be laughing or thinking hard. Obviously, you can do both. In fact, I prefer if I’m doing both. Yet, this film makes both seem like the incorrect answer. Instead, I just squirmed for most of the time. I enjoyed it, definitely, but I don’t think I’ll be watching it again soon without reading a very long essay explaining to me what I should be paying attention to.
Swiss Army Man
Reviewed by Nick D’Alessandro
Swiss Army Man is honestly an enigma to me. It’s been a few weeks since I saw it, but I keep returning to it in my mind. That’s probably due to its phenomenal soundtrack (which I cannot recommend enough). The film follows Hank (Paul Dano) who has been stuck on a desert island for a long unspecified period of time. One day, Hank has had enough and decides to hang himself. As the fateful moment approaches, a corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on the shore. Seeing this as his last chance to survive, Hank uses the corpse as a jet ski powered by farts to travel to the main land.
I know what you’re thinking. The most insane, idiotic thing you’ve heard of.
I cried at this movie twice. I cannot begin to explain to you how emotional and profound this film about a farting corpse is. It beautifully questions the standards of society in a way I have never seen in any media before. Manny (the corpse) is wonderfully innocent and the connections he makes that Hank doesn’t even consider just show how complicated our society it is. This film critiques masculinity, societal pressures, relationships and tons of other little details in common relationships. The film never backs down from its fantasy. It fully commits to its strange reality and never ever backs down. And one of my favorite details is that the characters make plenty of mistakes, but the film holds them accountable for their actions.
It’s truly a beautiful and strange film. One of my favorites of the year. I highly recommend checking it out. It is quite a wild ride.