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‘Wonder Woman’ Boldly Enters The No Man’s Land Of Superhero Movies

wonder woman

Wonder Woman is the long-awaited blockbuster superhero flick featuring the world’s most famous superheroine. It’s also a much-needed palate-cleanser for DC and Warner Bros’ shared universe movies. But in a lot of ways, Wonder Woman herself carries far more important burdens than the woes of a franchise.

The studios that make comic-book movies have had a serious problem with delivering female-centric movies. It took 75 years to bring Wonder Woman, one of the most iconic superheroes of all time, to the big screen, long after Catwoman, Elektra, and even Supergirl in the 80s.

In all that time, we’ve had numerous Superman and Batman films, three Spider-Man continuities, and a slew of lesser-known characters like Spawn, Steel, and even Jonah Hex on the big screen before Diana Prince, who has long been relegated to enjoyable TV shows and animated movies.

But no longer. Following up on her tremendous screen presence in the otherwise malignant Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Gal Gadot returns as the sword-and-shield clad force of agency, this time with a backstory that carefully steps around the comics in many ways, while still playing tribute to the character’s best traits.

Go on…‘Wonder Woman’ Boldly Enters The No Man’s Land Of Superhero Movies

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2017 Summer Movie Preview – Cinemaholics

The Cinemaholics Podcast has never been this summer movie peviewy. Will, Maveryke, and I take a close look at our most anticipated releases from May to August and from from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming to Wonder Woman and Baby Driver.

We also unpack some huge DCEU rumors involving The BatmanThe FlashWonder Woman, and Suicide Squad 2. Then we finish things out by doing mini reviews for Going In StyleSmurfs: The Lost Village, and Teen Titans: The Judas Contract.

EMAIL US YOUR FEEDBACK & QUESTIONS: cinemaholicspodcast [at] gmail.com 

Go on…2017 Summer Movie Preview – Cinemaholics

‘The Lego Batman Movie’ Has More Jokes Than It Does Laughs

lego batman movie

If Deadpool could parody the entire superhero genre, why not create a Batman movie that parodies the massive, long-running Batman mythology? It’s a smart, timely idea to build a monument to the decades of trivia regarding one of the most iconic superheroes (and characters) of all time, and as a followup to the hilarious and self-aware Lego Movie, which is ultimately a more thoughtful attempt to woo both kids and audiences.

Within the story of Lego Batman Movie, the titular character (voiced by Will Arnett) is as much a pop culture phenomenon as he is in real life, singing songs about how incredible he is and lavishly surrounding himself with gadgets and vehicles that best represent his own ego. But Batman is lonely, too, for reasons that might confound the same viewers who do manage to get all the references being tossed and visually planted.

See in this “universe,” Batman has never had a Robin, Batgirl, or otherwise. He’s a member of the Justice League (sort of?), and the movie wants to suggest that his symbiotic relationship with Joker is an interesting parody of romantic comedies (helped by frequent references to actual romcoms Batman enjoys in private).

It’s all written in a sloppy, haphazard way, because the viewers who will get the most out of the mountains of jokes and references will also wonder how all of this can simultaneously coexist with a Robin/Batgirl origin story, especially as there are loads of winks to previous Batman films (with those characters) being in the same mythology as this movie. In other words, it’s confusing, distracting, and hard to ignore, even for a movie that doesn’t ask you to take any of this seriously until it does.

lego batman movie

The film’s primary message is that Batman needs to learn how to work with others as a team, and the path for him to get there is utter chaos. Entire scenes are mismatched in pace and tone, frequently stopping the action completely every few minutes or so to repeat (sometimes verbatim) the themes and messages of the movie, just in case the kids didn’t understand how hard it is for Batman to have…friends?

As a result, Batman ends up learning the same lesson multiple times, sometimes pontificating the same ideas a scene later. It seems the writers (there were many) didn’t have sufficient time or freedom to edit the script because they also wanted to maintain the jokes they came up with to suit those scenes, so Lego Batman Movie comes off as a first draft riddled in mayhem and some interesting ideas, which will make it hard for audiences to feel less than overwhelmed by the frenetic references, action, and set pieces that turn on a dime.

The saving grace, however, is the fact that most of these jokes are humorous, especially if you’re a batfan. The ratio of goofy “kids will get this” jokes with the “inside jokes” that go over their head seems purposefully imbalanced, making Lego Batman Movie more a product of its time rather than a lasting comedic film. Perhaps only the first 10 or 15 minutes represent the best Lego Batman Movie has to offer as both a parody and an accessible comedy, akin to something like Spaceballs or, yes, Lego Movie.

But for the rest of the runtime, the film lobs more jokes than you can keep up with in order to satisfy everyone who won’t get the last joke. Unlike Deadpool, that critical mass of humor isn’t paced quite as well, so the laughs won’t be quite as abundant as the attempts to earn them. And that’s no good when you consider that the rest of the movie’s ideas about Batman’s loneliness and teamwork are too shallow and over-explained for audiences to care when the snarky inside trivia dries up years from now.

Grade: B- 


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Or just say hello on Twitter: @JonNegroni


‘Batman v Superman’ Is Better Than ‘Civil War’ Because Whatever – Snarcasm

batman v superman

Snark + sarcasm = what you’re about to read

Hey superhero fans and all-time purveyors of basic logic! I’ve got a twister for you. Did you know that  with just a few baseless assertions and false equivalency arguments, you can decide for everyone else that a truly terrible movie is better than a pretty good one?

Welcome the internet! And also the inner workings of this summer’s ultimate contrarian, Donnia, who wrote this little number on Fansided:

Batman v Superman Is Actually A Better Movie Than Civil War

You heard it here first. And for good reason.

Now, I’m all for taking a close, critical look at Captain America: Civil War, an entertaining film that doesn’t fully succeed at being anything extraordinary beyond what we’ve already seen of the MCU. It’s pretty good and an easy recommend, but it can be picked apart just as easily as any other Marvel film.

Batman v Superman, on the other hand, is a glorious misfire as one of recent film history’s most obvious examples of style over substance. Still, the movie has its fans who declare it to be an underrated masterpiece, in some part (I suspect) because they’re displacing the earned love they have for DC onto this neat-looking, but thematically hollow, fan film by Zack Snyder. It’s not without its high points (a great Batman aside from sociopathic tendencies and pretty much everything Gal Gadot does aside from opening emails). But to say it’s better than Civil War is a such a non-starter piece of hot-take nonsense, I can’t wait to share it with you.

Despite what many think, Captain America: Civil War really isn’t a good movie,

“Sorry legions of people who have the exact opposite opinion, including film critics, fans, and experts in this industry. I’m smarter than you!”

but Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is.

I’ll give Donnia some credit here for at least eliminating the pretense that she considers film analysis subjective.

That’s right, folks: you read the title correctly.

Yup, so sit back and breathe in the “pretty much clickbait.”

If you dare to have this unpopular opinion, you’re sure to be bombarded with reasons as to why Captain America: Civil War is apparently the better film

Right, it’s almost as if people use reasons to articulate their observations. Next you’re going to get mad at them using examples and evidence.

But the truth is that both of these movies hit the same beats to the same effect but for some reason, Civil War is praised for it while Batman v Superman is criticized. And the question is: why?

False premise alert! Donnia is putting opinions into our heads, claiming that the reason people disliked Batman v Superman as a set up, not an execution. Which means if I liked Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation but disliked Spy Kids 3D, then obviously it was because I have a double standard for the genre. Obviously.

I enjoyed Batman v Superman.

You don’t say.

When critics panned the movie for being poorly edited, poorly paced and basically a massive failure of a superhero film, I was discouraged to say the least.

You shouldn’t be, and for one simple reason: Liking a bad movie is fine. People do it all the time. That’s why they’re called guilty pleasures.

I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew there was something strange about the film when I first saw it. It wasn’t a bad feeling, but I knew that the film didn’t feel like what a superhero film usually feels like.

Was this before or after Jesse Eisenberg shoved a Jolly Rancher into an old dude’s mouth?

It didn’t look like it either, and that’s when it hit me—Batman v Superman didn’t follow the formulaic superhero narrative that we’re used to seeing.

False premise alert! Donnia is slipping into a quick, no-big-deal conclusion that we’re apparently used to seeing formulaic superhero narratives in our movies. This is important because instead of establishing this as a problem, she jumps ahead to the part where Batman v Superman solves it. Tell us more!

we all know that the MCU has and will continue to release a million movies and we flock to see all of them.

Everyone is terrible, yeah.

The MCU follows a very specific blueprint, as if it’s not obvious by this point.

“So obvious, I don’t need to spell it out. I’m just right.”

Yeah, so, all movies follow blueprints, especially franchises. If you’re criticizing Marvel movies for having some common ambiguous…thing…then you have to say the same for Star Wars always involving Skywalkers or Indiana Jones always being about historical adventures (yawn!)

 the problem occurs when a movie like Batman v Superman comes along and is very different than what we’re used to seeing.

Being different isn’t always better, and Civil War is actually a great example of that. Despite what you may think, Donnia, that movie isn’t a lot like any of the other Marvel movies. In fact, plenty of Marvel movies have been completely different from each other. Iron Man was an action comedy, Thor was a fantasy adventure, Captain America was a pulpy period action piece followed by a 70s-esque spy thriller in its sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy was a space opera comedy, and Ant-Man was a superhero heist movie.

And then there’s Civil War, which was a superhero teamup fight movie where the bad guy (spoiler alert) actually wins in the end. So how is Civil War formulaic again?

We’ve unknowingly set expectations for what we think a superhero movie should be that we reject when one tries to be different.

Nope. We just reject bad movies. Simply being different isn’t enough merit to warrant getting a pass, for the same reason a lot of people wanted to write off Ant-Man long before it was released because it was being heralded as something different.

And how exactly is Batman v Superman all that different from typical superhero movies, aside from having Snyder’s particular visual flair we’ve seen many times since 300?

Batman v Superman isn’t poorly edited or paced, it intentionally edited to be like a comic book.

Pack it up, everyone, the medium has officially stopped being the message.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with trying to make a movie match the experience of a comic book story. It’s been done successfully in the past with movies like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and done quite poorly with movies like Batman and Robin.

Pointing out that what they were going for was interesting in and of itself doesn’t negate the problem, which is that editing a movie too much like a scatterbrained paperback is a bad idea, mostly because comics usually have built in context continuity and are able to be digested in short bursts that rely on dramatized set pieces.

Movies are different, especially if they’re aiming to be over 3 hours long. They require cohesive visual editing that allow viewers to soak in the narrative and appreciate the characters, because unlike a comic, everything moves. And there’s sound. When you remove that cohesive visual editing, the “spectacles” onscreen that would look great on a comic ring hollow on the big screen.

 It was a radically experimental decision, and it did feel strange at first but once I realized what the film was doing, I loved it. How can I put a movie down for trying something different in an industry that always does the same thing?

Easily! For doing it poorly. Remember when I said style over substance? Yeah, I wasn’t just throwing around a cliche aimlessly for once. That directly applies here.

A common complaint about Batman v Superman is the “Martha” scene. That scene is just so horrible and laughable to many people and I don’t understand how they can mock that scene when the exact same thing happens ten minutes into Civil War. 

False…everything alert!

Bruce loses focus because Clark says his mother’s name and Steve loses focus because Crossbones says Bucky’s name.

And then Steve and Crossbones become best friends for life! Right?

Obviously the context of their names being said are different—

“But that huge difference in the scenes is not important or anything unless it makes my point stronger. Obviously.”

Look, the whole “Martha” thing has been talked to death in length elsewhere and on this very site, and honestly, I’m quite done with it. The main issue at this point is that this scene is so badly executed, everyone mocks it and willingly ignores the author’s intent. That’s a sign something went wrong here.

Another complaint towards Batman v Superman is the Doomsday fight…By taking the fight to an uninhabited island they’re preventing mass death.

That’s not the complaint at all. The complaint is more an aside (and not even one of the movie’s most annoying flaws) regarding how ham-fisted the line is when they say, “Oh, and that island is inhabited! WINK WINK.” We point it out because it’s moments like these that take the viewer out of the movie, because you consistently have to be told by the filmmakers that this isn’t Man of Steel. Oh, how I wish this movie had been Man of Steel.

Civil War does the same thing when Cap’s team and Iron Man’s team fight in an empty airport and destroy it in the process. So why does Batman v Superman get criticized for the line that a government official makes when he says that he island is uninhabited but no one says a word when it’s stated that Tony evacuated the airport so that they could have their showdown?

Is this a real question? Because they evacuated the airport. It was a decision that made sense because they don’t want people to get hurt. With Doomsday, they practically flashed this on the screen as, “Oh, what a coincidence that Doomsday wants to duke it out on an abandoned island that’s abandoned because whatever. Now you can’t complain! Wait, I’m not supposed to say that part of the line that’s scribbled on the script in red ink?”

I don’t have a problem with how either movie handled these scenes but I can’t help but to feel some animosity towards Civil War because audiences and critics are so willing to give the film a pass for doing same thing that they criticized Batman v Superman for.

Review: ‘The Accountant’ Is More Than Just ‘Jason Bourne’ With Autism

accountant

And weirdly enough, The Accountant (starring Ben Affleck) is moderately better than the actual Jason Bourne movie that came out this year.  

From the outset, this somewhat flat-looking action thriller from Gavin O’Connor isn’t done any favors by its own marketing and conception. Because the idea seems to be positioning Affleck as some sort of CIA killing machine who happens to be an accountant for some reason and happens to have mild personality disorders. But in reality, the script is ideally more personal, even transcendent at times compared to previous attempts to recreate autism in an actor who doesn’t have it.

Affleck plays Christian Wolff, a mild-mannered CPA who cooks the books for the most dangerous criminals in the world. Frequent flashbacks show the progress Wolff has made over the years to conquer the negative effects of his high-functioning autism, while still channeling the positives. In this case, he’s driven to finish absolutely everything, no matter the puzzle or challenge, which is why he’s as capable as he is physically and mentally.

If the movie allowed itself to simply focus on just this aspect of the movie, throwing in a new challenge for Wolff as he has to uncover a mysterious accounting error for a large robotics company (and befriending wide-eyed Dana, played by Anna Kendrick, who breathes much-needed life into Affleck’s onscreen presence), then The Accountant could be something great and easy to recommend. But instead, the film opts to throw in various other storylines and pointless mysteries in order to further flesh the world out, possibly for franchising purposes. It’s essentially the wrong version of John Wick, which set up a massive world beneath the text that viewers want more of, which is why that movie is rightfully getting a sequel.

accountant

The odd thing is that The Accountant certainly puts the work in. J.K. Simmons and Cynthia Addai-Robinson play Treasury agents in search of Wolff, but little comes of that development except to put off emotional payments for another time. There’s no fluidity, though, to how they link back to the main plot despite some interesting stakes-raising and the very fact that both actors are incredibly believable in their roles. The same goes for Jon Bernthal as the angsty, sarcastic hit man who regularly appears to add more shock value to the script by Bill Dubuque (The Judge).

To put it more simply, The Accountant is messy and disorganized, despite having a semblance of a compelling plot worth its own movie. Many of the surprises saved for the third act are predictable by the end of the first, and some mysteries end up being far less potent than what audiences will come up with themselves. At the very least, the action is graciously shot by a focused O’Connor, who employs an even style that makes viewers uncomfortable at exactly the right moments, getting them inside Wolff’s head whenever possible to allow some gleaning from his low points.

It’s just too bad the film never allows time for viewers to really understand Wolff’s actions, not just the background for them. Using flashbacks to explain his various character relationships and “powers” is great, but the evolution of Wolff as a person is never fully explored, at the expense of making him harder and harder to care about as the film jumps around to other characters. And if a movie really wants people to buy that Affleck is a math genius and an unstoppable warrior, then it needs to commit to making the case.

Grade: C+

Extra Credits:

  • Jeffrey Tambor is also in this for some reason, so don’t blink.
  • The Batman and DC Comics nods are all over this one. Simmons, of course, is set to play Commissioner Gordon. We see issues of Action Comics here and there. Wolff himself uses money and brawn to fight crime, essentially. He recites the Solomon Grundy rhyme to calm himself, which is a villain from the DC comics. You might recognize Addai-Robinson from Arrow, in which she plays Amanda Waller.
  • My favorite story from production comes from Anna Kendrick, whose mother is a real accountant and had to explain the math to her daughter after reading the script.
  • Oh, and John Lithgow is in this.

    Thanks for reading this. Seriously. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. 

    Or just say hello on Twitter: @JonNegroni

 

Snarcasm: 5 Non-Reasons Why the DC Movies are Working

dc movies working

Snark + Sarcasm = what you’re about to read.

Hey, did you guys know that the DCEU is working? I mean, it’s working hard, for sure, to dominate headlines and pointless online arguments about the very essence of filmmaking between people who’ve never watched Before Sunrise, but that’s not all!

The DCEU is also working in the sense that this was somehow the plan all along for DC and Warner Bros. That’s right, their first three films were critically panned on purpose. It was the plan all along for Man of Steel and Batman v Superman to get outclassed (financially or otherwise) by a movie about the Suicide Squad. And for all of these movies to scream “we’re a huge step back from The Dark Knight” on every poster that isn’t a bowl of Suicide Squad cereal for some reason.

How do we know the DCEU is working? Because Cowboy Bebop enthusiast Kofi Outlaw has five, count them, five reasons. And haven’t list-designed essay substitutes been the absolute best when it comes to persuasive arguments? I sure don’t think so.

DC Comics and Warner Bros. have had a strange year trying to get their DC Extended Universe established.

What a long, strange year it’s been in Rotten Tomatoes hell.

Big questions like “Who is to blame for the DCEU’s problems?” get tossed around the interwebs daily, but are they questions that need to be asked at all? 

Nope! No one needs to get blamed for failure or be held accountable for the consequences of certain actions, anymore. We now live in a society where doing something wrong is actually right, at least if you want to get “saved” from Rotten Tomatoes hell.

It’s clear there are people who do not like the films already released in the DCEU saga

And if it’s not clear, they’ll make it clear within five seconds of talking to them.

or the direction the films are taking with the likes of Zack Snyder’s Justice LeagueWonder Woman

Patty Jenkins is directing Wonder Woman, to be clear, not Zack Snyder. Though Snyder did have a hand in writing it, but alongside Geoff Johns, DC’s “budget Kevin Feige.”

But opinion is just opinion;

Oh, thank goodness.

and here are 5 Reasons Why the DCEU is Working, and could end up being dominant and cohesive shared universe movie saga. 

Terribly written sentences aside, you just stated that opinion is opinion, which is the exact equivalent of saying onion is onion, which takes less time. So why is your opinion opinion a better opinion opinion than anyone else’s?

Start slideshow –

God help us.

#1 It Makes Bigger Headlines

That sure is impressive.

DC makes bigger headlines than Marvel.

Source? Ah, who am I kidding.

And let’s be frank, here. DC’s biggest headlines happen to be more about how the movies are getting ravaged by critics (which Kofi later admits), instead of the headlines Marvel makes on good reviews. Assuming DC does have “bigger” headlines (what, is it like a bigger font or something?), Marvel still has more movies, which is only relevant if we care about quantity over quality, no?

I was there when Chris Evans won the long casting search for Captain America, or Chris Hemsworth won the role of Thor; they were big deal headlines, yes, but they were nowhere near the scope of when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman, or Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. 

That’s nice, but how does that mean the DCEU is working? It really only means that DC has recognizable characters, and we knew that alreadyOf course a casting announcement for Batman is going to get more attention than Thor. How is that indicative of the DCEU working?

The divide is even wider when it comes to villains: No villain Marvel has cast touches announcements like Jared Leto playing Joker or Jesse Eisenberg playing Lex Luthor.

Again, this is a battle not even Marvel cares about. You think they’re losing sleep over the fact that Yellowjacket didn’t have as many depressed journalists covering his casting than they did with the Joker and Lex Luthor, two of the most well-established comic-book villains of all time?

No, they were too busy enjoying the fact that they don’t need superfluous news coverage to dictate the success of their movies. It’s known as Metacritic Heaven.

Trailer releases put things in solid numbers, with the last few years at San Diego Comic-Con proving in indisputable viewer stats that DC movie trailers get more exposure than Marvel’s.

The DCEU has had great trailers, that’s for sure. I watched every Man of Steel trailer dozens of times because I couldn’t get enough. Then the movie utterly failed me and most of the audience. Turns out that good trailers don’t equate good movies, and if your idea of a film universe “working” has more to do with good marketing, then I’ll show you to the door that has a huge Transformers logo on it.

#2 It’s Established an Edgier Alternative

That’s like saying Christian Rock is inherently good because it’s “alternative” to mainstream music.

Nowadays, Marvel movies are released to slightly varying degrees of praise, make and expected level of money (half a billion at least) and pass through theatrical release with few waves. It’s a reliable machine, but does threaten to get a little boring in the long run. 

Yeah, it was really boring when they did a space movie that was nothing like what they’ve done before, a comedy heist movie featuring a guy who talks to ants, and a trilogy closer that rivals The Last Crusade.

BO-RING.

Thanks to Zack Snyder immediately going “full edgy” with his tinkering and re-imagining of DC’s core heroes –

Oh! I’ll finish this for you: everyone wants him fired. Well, not everyone, but everyone who has at least seen Before Sunrise. Or Sucker Punch. Or any other Zack Snyder movie.

the DCEU has established itself as a place where the rules get broken, and not everything is as “Disneyfied” as the squeaky-clean MCU. 

Yeah, I was so annoyed when the MCU decided not to “break rules” by starring a talking raccoon and a tree alien in one of its movies. Or when they pulled off a 70s spy thriller starring Captain America, one of the previously most one-note characters in all of comics.

But DCEU breaks rules left and right! Like when the characters in Suicide Squad fight a villain with a beam of light hitting the sky! And when they wrote Lex Luthor as Edward Nigma from Batman Forever! Or when they used virtually every visual trick and style Zack Snyder has featured in his movies since 300, but with DC characters!

Who would have thought style beats substance?

Long after people stopped caring about Iron Man 3’s shenanigans, they’re still arguing for and against Man of Steel;

Believe me, people still bring up Iron Man 3.

that says the DCEU is like punk rock: the financial returns may lower than a pop-culture formula, but the loyalty and love is exponentially more intense.

Again, though, this is all based on cheap intertextuality. A love and loyalty earned by the comics and previous iterations of the characters, not anything at all what the DCEU has earned on its own. Do you truly believe the majority of these fans would love Batman v Superman if it was featuring characters they didn’t recognize?

Meanwhile, people who’ve never read a comic in their life show up to see Marvel movies, because they don’t rely too heavily on intertextuality to tell a good story. They just tell good stories.

#3 Cult-Status Double Dip

Oh, this feels like a cult, alright.

While the theatrical releases of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad have all been plagued by harsh criticism, they’ve also achieved a sort of cult-status amongst the fans that embrace them,

Of course they do, and for the same reason people still think the Star Wars prequels are actually good movies. When you want something based on something you love to be good, you find ways to make it good. And since when are comic-book movies intended to be cult films? They’re made to be widely accessible and approachable. You’re essentially admitting that the DCEU is failing to find an audience outside the devoted few who would love anything with Batman and Superman in it.

With BvS:UE still making strong sales (and headlines), DC/WB has pulled off another trick: getting people to double-dip for a movie initially deemed “a failure.”

Yes, the DCEU is doing well in terms of DVD sales, but they’re a fraction of what a worldwide box office will bring you. It’s like saying the DCEU is “working” because they found a $20 bill on the side of the road.

I’ll grant you that a sizable group of fans love the DCEU movies. but that only means the DCEU is working for them. For these movies to become truly successful and grow in that success, they have to speak to larger audiences and prove themselves worthwhile films. But nothing in Kofi’s article explains how specific decisions made by Warner Bros. have yielded better results than they could have hoped for.

#4 Heroe$ & Villain$

Oh, Kofi, you outlaw.

As of writing this, Suicide Squad has just crossed the $500 million mark at the worldwide box office. At a nearly $200 million budget, it’s not a slam-dunk win like, say, Captain America: Civil War, but at three weeks at the top of the domestic box office (and overwhelmingly positive viewer ratings), Suicide Squad is far from the prophesied disaster that would die quickly on bad word mouth. 

A couple things. Like we mentioned earlier, Suicide Squad had fantastic marketing. The trailers sold a lot of people (not literally), many were curious because of the controversy, and many many people were itching to see Margot Robbie and Will Smith. Critics arguably put a sizable dent in the film’s potential returns, but nothing would have stopped the fans from showing up and rightly so.

But what did they think of the movie after they saw it?

Of course, Kofi doesn’t source his “overwhelmingly positive viewer ratings,” and I think he should because the data doesn’t back up his claim. It has a Rotten Tomatoes user rating of 68%, which is more “whelming” than anything else. And its B+ Cinemascore is decent at best. In comparison, Guardians of the Galaxy has a 92% user rating and an A Cinemascore. But hey, onions are onions.

So yes, Suicide Squad is doing well despite terrible reviews. For that reason, I’ve decided that the Transformers movies are “working.” Working to make a few people rich, at least.

the DCEU has now proven that it can make lucrative franchises out of its stable of heroes and villains.

Lucrative? Sure. As lucrative as they expected? No.

And diminishing returns are a big deal, Kofi. If these movies don’t improve in quality, more and more people will stop paying ticket prices to see them. Full stop. Short term success is one thing, but Warner Bros. is smart enough to know that they can’t keep churning out critical duds and expect growth.

#5 Better Woven Saga

Oh, this has to be a joke.

The truth of the matter is

…nothing you’re about to say.

cinematic shared universe world-building is always going to be somewhat clunky, given that a movie is supposed to be a standalone story while shared universes work in episodic chapters

And yet every Marvel movie has been a modest success at the very least. So maybe it’s not that clunky always.

The MCU phased 1 thread connects were superficial and arguably weak: 

This…is a joke a right?

post-credit “Avengers” name drops before anyone knew such scenes existed

…What?

characters like Hawkeye and Black Widow get half introduction while wedged in some one else’s solo film, etc

…What?!

First of all, both Hawkeye and Black Widow had introductions. Not “half” introductions. No one came up to ScarJo, asked her name, and walked away knowing only “Black.” Both characters made sensible appearances to slowly establish themselves before getting better fleshed out when it mattered. How is that weak? How is restraint weak?

The MCU has gotten a lot smarter about weaving its many many threads together (see: Captain America: Civil War), but it had a rough start. 

A rough start? Is that why The Avengers (the culmination of their “rough start”) is the highest-grossing superhero film of all time, complete with some of the highest ratings?

The DCEU, on the other hand, took a standalone film (Man of Steel) and managed to drop enough Easter eggs seamlessly into the mix to create a universe where Batman and Lex Luthor not only already exist offscreen, but are directly impacted by Man of Steel’s events.

What the Rotten Tomatoes Hell is this guy talking about? What easter eggs in Man of Steel are stronger than flat-out introducing characters in MCU films? How was it seamless? How is any of this part of your sentence?

One of the easiest criticisms to lob at the DCEU is their rushed cinematic universe. Instead of a sequel to Man of Steel or a standalone Batman movie, they skipped ahead to a movie with both characters, combining several comic storylines (Dark Knight Returns and Death of Superman) that don’t fit together and shouldn’t even exist at the beginning of a film universe.

Rotten onions are rotten onions. Or are they tomatoes? Now I understand that website.

Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad both grew organically out of both narrative developments in the preceding films, 

Said the most wishful thinker in the history of opinion opinions.

That interactivity and forward-thinking right from the start will inevitably make the DCEU a long-term investment that could come back to pay off in a much more fulfilling way than the MCU.

Forward-thinking? The DCEU has been one of the most reactionary products in modern cinematic history. They’re constantly shifting the tone and talent behind their movies to appease public opinion, hence the debacle that was Suicide Squad‘s final, Jokerless, cut. It’s not a bad thing that they’re at least trying, but to suggest that the DCEU has failed on purpose is an utter joke.

I also take umbrage with the idea that this “investment” will pay off in a more fulfilling way than the MCU. In order for that to be true, I have to rewatch Man of Steel and Batman v Superman one day. But honestly, if the DCEU rights the ship with Justice League and Wonder Woman (fingers crossed), I’m just going to pull a Green Lantern and pretend those first few movies never happened.

Seriously, this entire article is the equivalent of watching an infomercial. “Buy now! Guaranteed results!” It’s one thing to point out reasons for optimism in the DCEU, but it’s another to rewrite history and make your opinion sound factual. While I don’t disagree with Kofi that the DCEU could become a force to be reckoned down the road, he seems to have taken a page from Warner Bros’ handling of BvS, in that he just wants to skip ahead without any of the real work being done.


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Or just say hello on Twitter: @JonNegroni


Review: ‘Suicide Squad’ is a Guilty Pleasure Worth Admiring

suicide squad review

Note: This review is spoiler-free, but it does contain a major spoiler from the ending of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. You have been warned.

When it comes to comics that center around bad guys defeating even worse guys (and gals), Suicide Squad is one of the most lasting and recognizable of the lot.

It wasn’t the first book to be about villains, of course (though this movie is the first comic book film to have a main cast of villains as characters). But it was one of the first that was actually successful. And that’s probably because Suicide Squad essentially defined the idea of reluctant heroism found in the vilest of our society.

That’s tricky territory, because it presents a philosophical debate that modern society is mostly split on: Are people inherently bad, or are they tainted by an inherently bad world? 

suicide squad review

Fortunately, Suicide Squad doesn’t dwell on these questions for easy dramatic fodder (at least, not as much as it could have). Instead, it takes a note from some of Marvel’s recent films by emphasizing character over spectacle, at least with some of its titular bad guys.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the set up of Suicide Squad from the comics — of which the 80s run is still the best — the idea is simple. A shady black ops leader named Amanda Waller (played by Viola Davis) wants to assemble her own team of metahumans, like Superman, and unhinged specialists, like Batman, in the wake of Superman’s death from the end of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.

The team is codenamed “Task Force X,” but as one of their recruits points out early on in the film, they’re really a “suicide squad” in the sense that they’re not expected to live through the mission that takes up the majority of the film. And that’s because most members of Task Force X are dangerous villains, accompanied by a Colonel and “good” metahuman to reign them in.

As noted earlier, the structure of Suicide Squad is brazenly different from typical superhero and comic book films. It’s focused and constrained to one major location, a familiar technique if you’re caught up with director David Ayer’s other work.

suicide squad review

And the decision to limit Suicide Squad to one mission ends up being one of the film’s greatest strengths, because by the end credits, the viewer is left feeling as if they’ve gone through a significant ordeal with these characters, even if the movie doesn’t always stick the landing with some of its big moments.

There’s as much good as there is bad with Suicide Squad, in the sense that Ayer and his team succeeded at getting this movie right where it really counts — notably with  standout characters like Deadshot (played by Will Smith). The problem is that like previous entries in the DC comics cinematic universe, Suicide Squad just doesn’t sweat the details enough.

These details include basic plot mapping (the opening scenes, for example, are a glaring mess), action set pieces (especially toward the end), and the film’s worst offense: its script. Though Suicide Squad has its moments of surprising and smile-inducing dialogue, a great deal of it comes off as hastily tacked on in order to elicit a reaction, usually humor.

For that reason, Suicide Squad practically forces the viewer to accept it in a very specific way. That is, it’s painted and executed as a guilty pleasure movie, and you get the sense that the movie has no aspirations for self-importance or melodrama. Which makes it an easy film to get lost in and just enjoy, without having to “turn your brain off,” for the most part.

suicide squad review

One of the reasons the movie swings more toward guilty pleasure has a lot to do with the care Warner Bros. has put into better fleshing out its world of DC characters, and a good number of them are paraded beautifully. As revealed in the early trailers, Batman (reprised by Ben Affleck) has a small presence in this film, and it plays out about as well as his best moments from Batman v Superman, without any of the confusing quirks added to the character.

And it goes without saying that Suicide Squad is brimming with loving references to other DC stories, reminiscent of how shows like Arrow and The Flash insert subtle asides for eagle-eyed viewers. Put simply, this is the first DC comics movie that does a good job of establishing a coherent personality for this world of heroes and villains, while also integrating it in a more graceful way than we’ve seen in the past.

The only weak link worth mentioning is certainly the Joker (played by Jared Leto), who is balanced with the other characters in this film in a gratifying way so as not to steal the spotlight. This ends up being for the best, though, because this is easily one of the most uninteresting depictions of the Joker of all time, not just in the movies.

Granted, the movie works hard to dress Leto up as the Joker, and sparse dialogue certainly sounds like something Joker might say. But upon close inspection, this version of the Joker does virtually nothing reminiscent of what’s fundamental to the character. There’s nothing he truly does that sets him apart from a flamboyant crime boss/pimp who wants to find his girlfriend.

suicide squad review

Yes, he wears funny costumes. Yes, he looks weird and kills people. But there is far more to the Joker than “oh by the way” scenes of him laying on a floor surrounded by knives. And that’s because his only true motivation in this film is to get Harley Quinn back. There’s no chaos, comedic insanity, or diabolical planning to anything he does or wants to do in the film. He simply acts like he is crazy, rather than truly showing it, and it’s one of the film’s biggest disappointments.

Thankfully, Joker is not the crux of Suicide Squad. Far from it. So it’s easy to overlook the shortcomings of his character in lieu of this film as its own standalone story. It’s not easy, though, to overlook the fact that too many characters in Suicide Squad have poorly fleshed out character ideologies that make sense of their own payoffs toward the end. They do it in spades for Deadshot and Diablo, but that’s about it.

Lastly, the soundtrack does little to enhance or even complement the story, instead only reminding viewers that Guardians of the Galaxy did a much better job integrating a playlist with the rhythm of its plot (as proven by the film sharing one of the same songs from Guardians). In Suicide Squad, it really just feels like the music was added out of obligation, not because it was essential to the scene it was put in.

suicide squad review

And better thought (and edits) put into the scenes is all it would have really taken to make Suicide Squad a better movie than what we’ve gotten, which is a guilty pleasure that only looks good by comparison to the in-universe movies its attached to.

Grade: C+

Extra Credits:

  • There’s a mid-credits stinger and…well, it’s not that relevant or surprising, honestly.
  • I’m not a fan of most David Ayer movies, so Suicide Squad sort of defied the odds in my case. According to all the evidence, I should have hated this movie.
  • The chemistry of the cast is one of the film’s biggest strengths, as emblemed by the fact that a lot of them got “SKWAD” tattoos for the movie.
  • It’s not saying much, but this is my favorite live-action depiction of the Suicide Squad. That’s what full Will Smith can do for a film.
  • A standalone Harley Quinn movie featuring other DC femme fatales has been announced by Warner Bros., but it’s likely that the success of Suicide Squad will still determine whether or not that actually happens.
  • For once, Cara Delevingne wasn’t one of the worst characters in a movie.

    I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

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