a progressively more drunken review by Jamus
So check this out. Dayna has asked me to do a review of DC’s recent movie Suicide Squad. The trouble is, given my tight schedule and other real-life distractions, she put a twist into the request and asked me to make a vocal recording for her to transcribe/stealth-edit into coherent text later. Plan is, I create this introduction and then stop it, and then proceed to go get trashed. This may take a few…hours, minutes, whatever. It’s going to take some time. But when I have done that, I come back and finish this.
Here we go.
Don’t try this at home, kids.
So…it was a movie. It was not a great movie, but it was a movie. Was it better than Batman v Superman? Of course it is, because Batman v Superman set the bar so low that Ghostbusters II could have flopped over it, and they already did that a good twenty-seven years ago.
(Go ahead and argue with me later that BvS was better than Ghostbusters II, go on do it – I don’t even answer the Facebook when it rings the doorbell anymore. Screw that guy.)
So here’s a list of ten things. And let’s make it a top ten, sure, of things I question, things I would change/edit/remove/fix/etc., and maybe how to fix them.
10. Multiple Introductions: Why You Do Dis, Why
So Deadshot got introduced three times in the same movie. Wait, sorry, Will Smith got introduced three times in the same movie (he’s in a prison, then he’s on a rooftop shooting a guy really good, then he’s in prison again showing how good he is at shooting things really good).
THIS. IS. UNNECESSARY.
Enchantress gets introduced twice – once when she’s Lara Croft, second time when she’s at the briefing. Harley Quinn gets away with it because you’ve got that little chase scene and the ruining of Date Night. That’s okay.
How would I fix this? Fast track this stuff! Get Amanda Waller and Rick Flagg to visit the prison right away, watch Waller making notes – she can describe her “visit” to the Blacksite Prison between mouthfuls of that tasty, tasty steak at the Cicada. That way all the characters are introduced better once, and you have more time for more stuff. We don’t need to be told again and again that Deadshot is good at shooting people – we see that later. Give us a chance to see these kick-ass abilities and then be all like “Hey, neat. What’re they all about?” and draw us in.
9. Wibbly-Wobbly Timeline Makes Me Sad
The past-and-present timeline switching happened way too much, and I blame the editing, which was stupid and terrible. For example, the flashback with Harley about diving into…uh…pudding. For her Puddin’. I guess. It’s an okay scene, shows just how far she’ll go for her lover, okay. But why then? Why right in the middle of climbing stairs and trying to reach the mission…place…objective, quest turn-in?
The Enchantress disconnect isn’t helpful either. Apparently when they finally revealed the deal behind all of it (and everyone was so pissed off that they were lied to – really?), it was three days later – did we have any way of knowing that? For that matter, was the time skip important? I don’t know.
The city is totally being deconstructed for a really long time, considering this movie’s run time. That happened in the start of the second act and wasn’t really addressed. I actually forgot about it being a threat (looked cool, but stopped being interesting because it’s been there for probably a good part of an hour). It was just kinda…there.
I want to take a pair of hedge clippers, a ten-pound sledgehammer, some duct tape and a blowtorch to the editing staff. Wait, no, sorry – the reels, of film. The editing process. Not the people. Well, maybe the people. Rearrange stuff, make things happen at different times, tighten up the timeline. I mean, Batman v Superman has a half-hour of movie on the cutting room floor. I don’t know if Suicide Squad has that issue as well, but if it does, maybe it would have been a better movie. Because the finished product is not good.
8. Drinkin’ In the Bar Is Best
BUT THAT SAID
It went way too fast. Suicide Squad has very few periods of “slow down and reflect and develop and steep these characters”. The bar scene in the ruined city was the best scene in the movie. We finally got a few minutes to just have the minibosses chat amongst each other, have a drink, discuss “honor amongst thieves”.
There should have been way more of this; let the minibosses (yes, I’m calling them that now, what) develop a rapport, let them chat, let them figure stuff out about each other. It felt like the friendship (?) was too much magic, not enough real. It felt just kind of…accepted? Automatic? “Oh, well, we’ve worked together for a few hours, I guess we’re friends now.”
Instead, why not have more little interludes? Let’s instead see Deadshot and Killer Croc working out in the courtyard, Deadshot failing badly at outdoing Croc. You think he can bench what Croc does? Pff. Or Captain Boomerang misplaces his..unicorn…thing…and Harley finds it, dusts it off and kinda smiles at him. A li’l “shhh” expression to say “It’s cute, you’re a dork. It’s okay. I won’t tell.” Baww. It’s cute in my head. Or even how about El Diablo and Katana talking about lost family; different perspectives, different reasons – Katana chides him for being so hesistant, so reluctant in doing his duty. Violence and vengeance are all she has, why not embrace that if it means moving forwards?
This is why this movie is just editing hell: that quote about what they’re drinking, the joke about Diablo only having water – why was that cut? That was in the trailers and everything. It was good stuff. While I’m at it, why the fuck do movies do that now? They spoil all their best lines in the trailers now and you’re not pleasantly surprised anymore. “Wow, that was a nice one-liner” or “daaaamn, that’s a sick burn” or “that was funny”. Now it’s like “Oh, now’s the time when they say that thing we were promised they’d say.” MODERN CINEMA YEAAAAH
7. Redshirts Needed? Boomerang It Instead
So, Slipknot. Slipknot, a.k.a. “Every Story Needs A Redshirt”, was introduced as an Aboriginal man “who can climb anything”, which in retrospect wasn’t all that useful to begin with, considering the stairs were perfectly functional, and Harley demonstrated that the elevators worked just fine even in a time of crisis. He’s also introduced by punching out a woman and claiming “she had a mouth”, and is killed fewer than ten minutes later. Karmically even?
Look. We didn’t need this guy. If we wanted some dumbass to get himself neck-grenaded, do Captain Boomerang! I guarantee, unless there’s another Suicide Squad down the road (please no), when the hell else will he be used? Guy had zero story arc and was only moderately funny at times.
(I have a note here that totally says “insert boomerang joke here”, and I’ve got nothing. Moving on; maybe it’ll just come back to me.)
6. Croc Is Dead Sexy and Must Continue To Be So
Speaking of things that were actually funny: Killer Croc. He had very very few lines, but those lines were solid gold. There’s one line in the bar where he’s all like “I’m beautiful on the outside,” although if it were up to me, I’d change it to “I’m dead sexy.” Because reasons.
5. Show Don’t Tell Me This Crap
Okay. Real writing talk here. Show me what happens, don’t just tell me. Especially in a visual medium! Granted, it’s very, very hard to do this in a superhero movie where you’ve got 6+ big names and most of them need a few minutes to be explained or introduced more than once for some goddamn reason or demand more screen time because their name happens to be Smith comma Will BUT ANYWAY
Katana had her sword explained twice. “It steals souls”…okay? Don’t tell me this. Show me this going down after she ginsu-slices some dudes and the soul just kinda transcends and slrrrrrps back into the sword to hang out with all the other souls crammed inside. Give her a badass line as she sadly puts the sword away all like “You will be in good company. Whoever you were.”
Sometimes it’s the opposite way; maybe we’ve been shown too many times. Did we need to see the Deadshot and his Daughter and Suddenly Batman scene? Probably not. A bunch of random cops could have taken him down in the same situation, so long as his daughter was there to puppy-dog-eye him.
Okay, so my point isn’t as strong as it should be shut up
The editing was still bad and the movie had a terrible balance of showing and telling so there
4. You Got A Zombie Movie In My Superhero Movie
You know, for a superhero movie with:
-A lady who’s good with swords
-A lady who’s good with baseball bats and a single gun and short-shorts
-A maybe-fairly-strong monster guy
-A man who can shoot fucking fire from his hands
-A lady who’s possessed by this ancient manevolent spirit or something
Instead of emphasizing all of this, you got a lot of guns and Navy SEALs and Call Of Warshooter Fighter 4 Vs. Zombies in this movie. There was a good five straight minutes where all I heard was goddamn gunfire. I get the Squad needs to have a military escort for story reasons, but come on.
There need to be more times when the Squad gets separated, and need to fight their way out on their own, utilizing their own powers, or maybe just smack the editors to cut down the city situation by a half hour so we’re not spending as much time with the soldiers.
3. It Wasn’t As Funny As It Thinks It Is
Floyd Lawton: [As Harley points a gun at him] Whoa! Relax. It’s me.
Harley Quinn: You ever been in love?
Floyd Lawton: No. Never.
Harley Quinn: Bullshit.
Floyd Lawton: You don’t kill as many people as I’ve killed and still sleep like a kitten, but feel shit like love.
Harley Quinn: Another textbook sociopath.
Maybe I’m wrong, but it felt like we were supposed to laugh at this: the way there was this kinda pause and the sudden cut to the next scene? Were we supposed to? I wasn’t laughing, were you? Nah. Maybe that’s partially because it’s the thing I mentioned earlier: too much revealed in the trailers and the punchlines are already worn right out.
Okay, so the movie had some funny moments (see my comments on Croc above), but they could have been more…clever? I can’t think of good jokes right now. Booze. Brain fuzzy.
Another thing: this pushes up against this over-reliance on the word “shit”. I get that’s modern language, it’s used so interchangeably, but it’s such a lazy word. And it’s not funny. Get some better adjectives in this goddamn movie – or whatever class you shunt this word into. Nouns. Verbs. Exclamations. What have you. Moving on!
2. Need A Better Villain, Save Some For Later
Okay, so here’s one I actually have a decent solution to!
How many villains were there in this thing, anyhow? Joker isn’t the main villain, he’s just kinda there, all about getting Quinn back, whatever. Waller did a decent enough job being ruthless and cold and calculating, so that’s okay. The Enchantress/Incubus thing though…that was a mess from the very start. The whole “I can control her” mechanism gets shut down the moment Waller decides to take a nap.
What was their evil plan, exactly? Tear up a bunch of metal and rock and make it float in the sky for an hour or so? Maybe make a few hundred zombies? Wait until they grab someone who knows where all the battleships are floating off-shore and attack them? Yep. Planning.
Check it out:
You need a dumb villain who’s got some power and who feasibly would have been handled by Superman if he were still alive. Or rather, still alive and not currently buried in a flimsy-ass box in Smallville.
You need someone who kinda plays with the same theme of “I had a tragic past, I do these things because the government will take what little I have left from me” or “I’ll cooperate because I don’t want to hurt anyone” – the same themes you see threaded among all the members of the Squad.
Make him/her a weapon, make them the first candidate for the Suicide Squad – awful things happen with their family/friends, they snap, go nuts, maybe find a way to reproduce and start overtaking a city – there’s your goddamn zombie quota if you still want to keep that, maybe holding Waller hostage, or trying to find Waller in the city before they can extract her, something, I dunno.
So you have a life-sucking, memory-draining villain. You could easilyrun with that. “Well, we don’t have Superman, right. So you guys will have to do.” You could like, have him/her/it burn up when they try to drain Diablo – draining his own emotions, draining all that fire into his/her/its body, burns up waaaaaagh
That also frees up Enchantress for something better down the road if DC wants to eventually pull their plans out of the fucking dustbin and make a decent movie for once – keep her story contained, hint at it if you want, make her difficult enough to control, gives Flagg a reason to stick around, gives the others someone to play off of. Maybe the Enchantress spirit is a hell of a drinker to boot, who knows.
SPEAKING OF PROPER FINAL BOSSES
1. The Joker Shouldn’t Be Predictable
The Joker was PREDICTABLE AND THIS IS BAD SO BAD
It goes against the very fabric of the Joker’s character. Going back to The Dark Knight, the chaotic nature of things like the disappearing pencil magic trick – I remember seeing that in the theater and everybody applauded that! Because it was unpredictable. Instead I sat through Suicide Squad thinking things like:
“He’s gonna shoot the guy. He’s gonna shoot the guy, watch. Watch, he’s gonna shoot the guy. OH HE SHOT THE GUY”
“He’s gonna dive in after her. He’s not that mean. He’s gonna dive in – oh look, he wuvs her. He dove in, because he’s not that heartless and mean. FUCKING JOKER WHO ISN’T MEAN WHAT THIS IS SO WRONG”
“WHY DIDN’T HE FIRE THE MINIGUN. WHY IS THE RANDOM MOOK FIRING THE MINIGUN. The Joker just stands like five feet behind with a random gun and laughing and shooting his gun – so what? Why is he in the second-most interesting position in that scene?”
I will forgive the modern interpretation of the Joker, where he’s all gangsta and tattoos and teeth shiny and chrome. I can forgive that, but it makes him so predictable. That is not what the character of Joker should be, and that is not using the character to his fullest potential. That is wasted effort, and that is something I cannot abide.
0. Hey That’s Enough Just Calm Down
Okay. I’m done. I feel better now. I have imbibed far too much and I am feeling quite ill, but I’m glad I did this and that I got this out of my system and haha Dayna have fun transcribing that mess.