Sunday, October 23, 2016

IndieCork 2016



So I went to IndieCork 2016 last week! Due to working on other articles, I wasn’t able to get around to doing my usual festival thing of reviewing what I considered to be the most interesting movie I saw that week, and instead decided to make a master post giving a (hopefully) brief overview of every screening I was at.

In total, I went to 17 screenings: 2 shorts reels and 15 features. Let’s not waste time, I will first go over the shorts I saw and then go into the features.

As they are shorts, let’s see if I can keep my opinions on them to one or two lines so this blog doesn’t run on for an eternity. Starting with:

Buster, Charlie and Pierre



A collection of shorts from Pierre Étaix, an Academy-Award winning French comedian, mixed with movies from his idols Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Verrrrry quickly now:

Feeling Good (Pierre 1): Funny setting, used really well for some creative jokes. Drags a bit, but well-constructed and clever. 7

The Cure (Charlie): Chaplin can play drunk well! Probably the weakest of the shorts as some of the gags drag on too long, but it’s fine. It’s classic Chaplin, and the payoff for the well is great. 7

Rupture (Pierre 2): Loved the limited use of space here. It gets a lot of really funny bits out of one room and a really simple premise: writing a note. Very well thought out physical comedy. 8

One Week (Buster): My favourite of the lot. Buster Keaton is the master of really elaborate stunt comedy, and it’s put to great effect here. Consistently makes you howl and a great ending. I love how involved the wife character gets in the fun as well. 9

Happy Anniversary (Pierre 3): The one that won Étaix an Oscar, and you can see why. Combining the strengths of the last two (simple premise & creative situations), it’s a madcap ride with a pretty relatable story. Love the ‘subplot’ with the guy getting a shave. 8

Creative Cork 2


A range of shorts by talented Cork filmmakers. This isn’t daunting at all, as I know these people and they are likely to read what I say! Oh bhuel:

This is Not a Mugging: A bit of awkward framing, but it’s charming and funny enough to keep you engaged. Very well paced too-every story beat hits its mark. 7

Bailer-The Binding: More like ‘The Blinding’, AMIRITE FELLAS?!?!?!!?!! …they abuse flashing imagery in this. If that works for you cool, it’s just something that completely took me out of it. It’s a music video, so it’s well timed and some cool imagery, just couldn’t get into it. 5

Cold: An unsettling, intense and evocative insight into a pretty disturbing topic. Very creepy and great built up. The female lead was a little off, but besides that worth checking out. 7

Escape: Tries to be progressive and make a statement about the LGBT experience, ends up being clumsy and a tad uncomfortable. Decent acting, but the subject matter left me cold, even if it’s well intentioned. 4

On the Surface: Well written and understated story about grief and the struggles a lot one can leave, just a bit of hokey acting and a weirdly understated ending let it down. The flashbacks were probably some of the best scenes in the short. 6

Last Call: Poignant, well-acted, well shot, relevant and funny to boot. Great little short with decent pacing and an excellent central performance by Pascal Scott. The ending will leave a big grin on your face. 8

Reach: Beautifully performed two-man (well, man and woman) piece about lost time and regret. It’s a tad predictable and it ends on kind of an awkward beat, but it’s excellently written and the two actors absolutely sell the emotion. 8

Telephone Operator at Dusk: I’m going to be honest, I have no fucking clue what was going on in this one. This stuff ain’t for me, man. Sorry! It’s got nice graphics, I guess? 4

Dead Air: Puntastic, quirky, great concept offset by some excellently done dark humour and even a bit of maddening horror in this horror-comedy. Probably has some of the most quotable moments in it, and a really good handling of tone on a premise that could have gone south really easily. 9

I also saw some shorts that performed in other nights. Here are my thoughts:

Blue Shawl: Achingly beautiful and sensitive story about the importance of acceptance and relying on who you love. The lack of dialogue really focuses on the harshness of the story, and it has one of the sweetest endings of any film I’ve seen in the fest. Track this one down. 9

Surfacing: Great song, cool premise for a music vid, and pretty unnerving in parts (particularly the final line). It has a nice theme to it as well, and the video is well made enough whether you agree with what the director may be saying or not. Although the girl at the end kind of comes out of nowhere, at the same time there isn’t mean to be a lot of internal logic in the vid. Eh. 6

Date Night: The winner of the Cork Shorts, and absolutely deserves the prize. Hands down the best short screened. It’s emotional and really cleverly shot, led by a stunning central performance and a shocking turn with some intensely well done build up and I dare not ruin the rest. Just see it. 9

Terminal: Winner of the Irish shorts. A sweet and relevant two-women show dealing with a controversial topic, but one in needing of conversing. It’s understated and tender, and the two leads have an excellent rapport. I even love how the people in the background kind of frame them, trapping them in a world they cannot understand. 8

And now onto the features! 15 features, let’s hope this doesn’t go on forever.

Shoebox Memories



The first of 8 Irish features I saw (there were 9 playing-I missed the freaking opening of all films because it sold out), and it wears its low budget on its sleeve, for good and for ill. Some awkward editing and some weird continuity errors doesn't negate how sweet and genuine the story is. It’s a low budget movie about a down-on-his-luck Dublin musician who finds love intercut with music he has recorded himself. I’m going to refrain from using the ‘O’ word because this flick does find an identity of its own.

In all honesty, the cast are what save it; the opening made me click with the lead immediately and there is a great payoff to the flashbacks later on. It probably would have been stronger with a bit more cash, also there are some really irritating contrivances and some first-timer mistakes here and there, but I get the sense that it did what it wanted to do, and I’ll always admire a film that achieves that. Very genuine independent filmmaking-worth a watch. 6

Tanna



This is easily the best movie I saw in the festival. Shot in the island of the film’s namesake, it focuses on the indigenous tribes that have not been "civilised". Not only do these people act in it, not only have they never acted before, but they have likely never even seen a camera before this production. The fact that they can act at all is one thing, but the cast give such beautifully naturalistic and authentic performances you almost forget this.

Outside of that, it’s a beautiful Romeo and Juliet-esque story of forbidden love based on true events. Teaching about the importance of marrying progression with paying tribute to your roots, this simple story has a lot of layers as the elders learn as much as the children do. The island has such beautiful scenery and the cameras take every advantage of this. And the way it is shot is subtly brilliant-there are a lot of shots they could have manipulated the surroundings to get, but they make everyone feel as if you’re an observer of this classic tale of love.

Great story, great characters, great setting, a unique insight into a culture untouched by modernity, with some potent messages and a really enjoyable watch. It is Australia’s entry for Best Foreign Film in the Oscars, and it will be a damn shame if it doesn’t get picked. Absolutely track this one down. 9

The Host



This is a rather short but probing documentary about a personal story linking the director’s past to British Patroleum’s (BP) history in Iran. It plays out in an investigatory fashion and some of the discoveries made are rather uncomfortable and maddening. I know my own buttons were pressed from the opening giving an overview of how the company operated in the country! It’s told in a rather creative and lively style too, using old photos and documents to bring the past to life. I admire them going the extra mile to keep the audiences’ interest, which could have been caught by the subject matter at hand.

If I have any criticism, it’s just that I would have put the director’s own story with her parents before the stuff with BP. It just feels like the more pertinent and interesting information for a general audience. Not that it isn’t interesting, and it’s obviously the heart of the story this filmmaker wanted to tell because of her familial link, that’s just my own views. Despite that, this is a fascinating and emotional piece bringing a lot of humanity to a pretty shady story. Prepare to be moved by a woman discovering a new side of her family as well as very, very angry at everything that surrounds it. 7

NOTE: Not to be confused with that other movie called The Host, which will make you very, very angry for very, very different reasons.

Strange Heaven



This movie is stupid, and boring, and contrived, and ugly, and has a bunch of characters I don’t give a shit about and a plot I barely remember outside of a really silly boat scene and wanting to slap the parents for how stupid they are. Now, I’m not exactly expecting parents who have had their kids taken away by the state due to accusations of abuse to exactly act rationally in that situation, but the way the characters act are SO stupid and nonsensical I found them hard to relate to. I just spent a lot of the film wondering if I was missing something!

 There is some interesting stuff brought up about the fact that the family are Polish living in Sweden, but outside of that this story could have been done so much better feeling less like everything happened because it needed to for the plot to make sense. When an episode of The Simpsons did this in a more emotional way, you have done something wrong! 4

In Between Silence: Where We Really Exist


I really liked this. No, seriously. It has great production values, every conversation outside of the first one (probably because it was recorded on the fly) sounds clear, they all have interesting stories to tell and the amount of talent they have in this is impressive. I just cannot call this a movie. And this isn’t me being hyperbolic or snobby; it’s a sound project that uses the space of the cinema to get across an idea of naturalistic storytelling in a modern world (creating that sense that you’re being ‘told’ these tales in a darkened night, if you get me). It’s clever, it’s well executed, and I’d definitely say you should check this out, but it’s just stories with the occasional images bookending each part (and some of them move). It’s definitely different, and I do think they get across what they were trying adequately, so it’s definitely worth hearing some good aul stories.

Beyond the Woods


One of the two Cork features that played at IndieCork, and it was enjoyable. Some decent atmosphere offset by a great cast of really talented homegrown performers. Unfortunately, the intrigue and fear they were building up for two thirds of the movie has a really underwhelming pay-off. What feels like more of a character focused psychological horror becomes something a tad more generic. Character arcs that have been built up the entire runtime are dropped, there are some odd filming choices and plot holes, and it’s just really not that scary.

I mean, it has its strengths. Outside of how overly expositional it can be, the dialogue and character interactions feel very natural, and I do like the easygoing pace at the start even if it can drag a little. There was certainly a lot of effort and talent put into this movie, but sadly it just misses the mark for me. 6

Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny



Richard Linklater is a really fascinating filmmaker to me. I think I respect his work more than like it (his latest film is great, though). He’s someone who can slip into auteur indie darling with his own distinctive tone and voice, and yet go bang into mainstream success without breaking a sweat. He’s got such an interesting philosophical world view and a zest to make movies based on concepts you joked about that he continues to challenge and surprise.

What I’m saying is that this film is a REALLY generic look at his life and career, and offers no great insight that you cannot get on your own. Not worth watching, sorry. 5   
  
Storage



The second of the Cork movies screened, and definitely an interesting one. This film is literally set inside a man’s introspection, as he goes through the failings in his life wondering if he should hold onto these burdens. This is a beautifully shot debut, with some impressive angles and images taken from Cork (particularly the stuff shot on the beach). It’s a great premise with quietly thoughtful execution, and has one of the best scores I have ever heard in an independent movie. Seriously, it absolutely elevates the movie.

While it’s a bit too reminiscent of films from the likes of Terence Malick or Darren Aronofsky, its style and tonal consistency show that these are filmmakers that have the talent and passion to make some great work in their future. An impressive debut. 7

Twice Shy


This is a beautiful and intimate look into the very emotionally difficult decision of travelling to get a termination in Ireland. Rather than hammer that point in home, they downplay it to tell a story about the ordinary lives of this couple and how they came to this situation. The cast are just so goddamn likeable that it’s impossible not to get involved in their story. Props to the two leads, who manage to feel very young but defined by their circumstances. Another standout is Ardal O’Hanlon, who gives a fantastically subtle and respectful portrayal of a man suffering from depression. He’s a really underrated actor and should be in more things.

I only have a few minor quibbles. The cinematography can feel a bit flat, though there are some great shots near the end of the film. Also the song choices can be kind of grating-only the final song fits the movie. But this is a poignant and very human look at a controversial topic. I implore you check this one out. 8

Mattress Men


The story of online sensation ‘Mattress Mick’, a man who turned himself into an online personality to save his failing business. The focus is not on him, however, it’s on his friend Paul Kelly, who helped Mick develop this persona and runs his social media. We focus on Paul as he struggles to try to get a full contract as Mattress Mick continues to grow with a music video coming out.

This is a funny and very human story about friendship, making ends meet and adapting to the current social climate. You really grow fond of Paul as he struggles to make ends meet and get off the dole, while helping his boss and friend find fame. Outside of that, it has a lot of insights into how these kinds of social marketing trends function, and the amount of creativity and energy put into what is essentially a promotional campaign is insightful. A very well made documentary. 8

Lift


A simple setting (locked room story, but in a lift), but executed well and has a really fun premise attached to it. The characters get trapped in the lift after a man hastily attacks a security guard and the guard stops the lift to prevent him from escaping before passing out. It starts out intense and claustrophobic, but this melts away slightly as the characters begin to relate to one another and their would-be captor softens to them and we begin to understand more of his motivation.

Not much to say here, to be honest. It’s just a well-executed flick with a likeable cast and some fine acting. It’s funny, dramatic, heartfelt and utilises its budget extremely well. A fun locked-in flick. 7

South



It’s weird that there are two movies set in Dublin about down-on-their luck musicians traumatised by their father’s death and suffering from stage fright whose lives are turned around by meeting a special woman. Though one starts off in Galway, so I guess that makes the difference.

I jest, because these movies are very different, and also this is a story I’ve seen about a thousand times before. Kid with a passion and talent beaten down by life and he runs across this girl and I WONDER WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN OH MY GOD!!!!! Nothing is really added to this concept, and it’s actually kind of hilarious how cruel everyone is to this kid in the first act outside of his dad. The world is filled with mean-spirited ballbags, though this changes later on as the supporting characters feel more human. I don’t think everyone should be nice and cheery, but Jesus.

Outside of that, it hits every beat you expect it to hit from the first 10-15 minutes in, the lead is a fine actor even though his character is flat, I do like the acting in the climax, but mostly it’s just a forgettable romp with very little to make it stand out. Flat and disappointing. 5

Faith & Fidelity


Holy shit, this was a chore to sit through (incidentally it was the longest film at the fest I saw at 2 hours). Outside of how terrible the production looked (I’m okay with the homecam-style to a degree, and that degree is seeing the cameramen and boom mics in several shots), this is a movie designed entirely to waste your time. It ignores what little plot it has to have these people wax philosophically about everything and anything-these conversations tend to be poorly framed and awful. I hate using the word ‘pretentious’, but the lead talks about things that don’t fucking matter in the slightest and is an absolute fool up his own arse. The four-person cast are full of unlikeable, uninteresting twits and I sat there wishing for it to be over.

I believe in the philosophy that you can make anything work, at any given budget, provided you have smart direction and well done execution. This one has neither. Easily the worst film I sat through in the festival. 3

Whatever Happened to Gelitin?


Gelitin are an Austrian avant garde art group comprised of four friends who are well known for doing absolutely insane installations (to go into would not only ruin the experience of this film, I just cannot do them justice with words). From the opening credits, it sets the tone. Exploring these guys is hilarious and kind of uplifting-they really just do what they want, fuck any typical conventions. They are legitimately some of the most unique people in the art world, and it’s offset with a mystery of their disappearing.

What I like about the film is that it’s set up in a way that it would be a fascinating view into Gelitin and their effect on the art world without necessarily having to find them in the end. It’s great to see the controversies they get into, how they interact with other people and how strangely liberating they are. It’s even shot in a way to reflect that: unconventional, creative, experimental and just throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks (including colours). This was one of the strangest and most wondrous experiences I’ve had watching a documentary knowing absolutely nothing about the subject matter. Now that I do, I want to know more. A real treat for fans and newbies alike. Just…not for the sensitive. Trust me. There are more dicks in this film than in a San Diego yacht party. 8

While We Live


The closing film for our fest, focusing on a mother’s snap decision to leave her adult son in Sweden and move back to her birthplace in Gambia. I really enjoyed the characters and the story had an even and pretty engaging pace. The lead actress, Josette Bushell-Mingo, gives a fantastic and really nuanced performance; you really feel she has a wealth of story to tell. My complaints mostly have to deal with a lack of focus. I don’t think the lead’s relationship to her son gets nearly enough development as it should, and certain subplots just get dropped. One just seems to be there to give a parallel between the lead and her son’s grandmother, but it’s given so much attention that it’s weird how they drop it.

I also really don’t think the cinematography is up to scratch, especially with blending the dream sequences into the movie’s narrative. They happen infrequently, and it’s funny every single time. Still, it’s a richly emotional movie and has a pretty great ending scene. Despite its flaws, I recommend it. 6

That’s all, folks! Consistently strong festival, IndieCork improves every year. Can’t wait for 2017.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Quick Critique: Hunt for the Wilderpeople



A troubled delinquent named Ricky (Julian Dennison) was lost in the foster care system until being sent to the New Zealand countryside, taken in by kindly Aunt Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and her despondent, antisocial husband Uncle Hec (Sam Neill). A series of bizarre events cause Ricky and Uncle Hec to be lost in the wilderness, in the middle of a manhunt led by the tenacious child welfare officer Paula (Rachel House) and the long-suffering cop attached to the case Andy (Oscar Knightley).

Taika Waititi is the King of the Offbeat. While his films all differ in style and content, his tone and humour remain consistent and distinct to him. His characters always have this rather wry and bemused way to reacting to strange shit going on around them, and Waititi just knows how to roll with that. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is his latest work, and not only does it get that down, it fits in a very universal theme about our need to fit into a world that doesn’t accept us. Ricky brashly acts out against what he feels wishes to control what he does, while Hec cynically accepts everything for what it is. These personality traits feel natural, as do their interactions.

It comes as no surprise that Sam Neill is excellent in this role-he has the world weary but caring cynic down to a tee. Of course no straight man can play well without his foil, and this little foil is just a breath of hilarious air. Ricky is such an adorably loveable little guy; a wannabe gangster with absolutely no filter and doesn’t try to take the world’s shit as it’s thrown at him. 2016 has been the year of impressive child performances, and Julian Dennison is definitely up there. He just has a lot of energy and screen presence and can carry the movie along with share the screen with Neill. These two are so great together, and their relationship is hilarious and sweet without being saccharine.

Cinematography wise, well, they’re shooting in New Zealand-they have a lot to work with. I love the look of everything; there is a beauty in the murkiness, and it displays a grand sense of adventure while managing to stay grounded to a degree. ‘To a degree’ being the operative phrase here-the film has wonderfully clever satire on hysterical crazes, and has one of the most exhaustively fun and bonkers climaxes  I’ve seen all year. Everything about the third act just works like gangbusters, and if you’re not grinning like a madman by the end, you’re just soulless.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is such a simple premise done extremely right. It’s what you get when you take two really likeable and fun characters out into the wilderness with the guidance of an oddball director with a good sense of humour. Despite his relatively short filmography (this is his fourth feature), Taika Waititi is a master of what he does and I cannot wait for his Thor movie. As for this one, it’s funny, sweet, quirky without being indulgent and very, very adventurous. Go check it out, it’s magestical!


9/10


Thursday, October 13, 2016

My Problems with: Suicide Squad, and the Negatives of the Negative



WARNING!!!! This blog post SPOILS the entirety of the Suicide Squad movie! If you have not seen it yet and wish to go in unspoiled, proceed with caution. Or...don't read it until after you've seen the movie. Whichever works, yo.

You know what they say; all great critics review movies over two months after they come out (they totally say that look it up shut up).

So I guess there’s no point in attempting an objective tone or a general review here. If you want to go see it, you’ve seen it, if not, it’s clear you’re not going to. They made their money, and it’s nearly out of cinemas anyway, so nothing I say will help or hinder Warner Bros. And I’m cool with that-I’m a dude who talks about movies online, I don’t assert that I have any real power over this shit anyway. Plus, I’d rather talk about this film overall and not be confined to spoiler sensitivity or generalisations, so let’s get to it!

So I’m going to do what I did in my Fant4stic R3view and break this down into good and bad points, because I…didn’t hate Suicide Squad? I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s terrible. Like, one of the worst movies of the year. I honestly think, on a production level, that Suicide Squad is actually worse than Dawn of Justice, though I also think DoJ is more fundamentally broken. However, I liked this one a little more, and while there were positives in DoJ, the positives in this film made it enjoyable rather than made me refrain from slitting my throat to end my suffering.

Enough of the hyperbole. List time!



The Good

-The cast are great. Will Smith is playing Will Smith, but he plays Will Smith well (Will Will Smith smith? Yes, Will Smith will smith). Margot Robbie was fantastic in her role, though I’ll go more into Harley later. MVP of the movie is Viola Davis as Amanda ‘The Wall’ Waller. Outside of some REALLY stupid parts, she was note perfect. I really like Jai Courtney, which almost kills me to say, but he’s really good in this! A lot of the other roles were well cast in this.

Viola Davis, take a bow!
-The premise itself. Really weird thing to shout out, but I just love the idea of a group of supervillains doing shady government missions. You can really get a lot of mileage out of that idea with the right execution. 

-The bar scene. Like, that could have been the whole movie. Light without being silly, great tone shift, natural banter and dialogue. It’s also the best edited too. It’s just a really cool, calm, relaxed and well shot scene. I really think this was the movie the director intended.

-El Diablo is the best character in the movie. Like, by a mile. His development from ‘reluctant thug’ to ‘sacrificial hero’ is extremely well done in a few short scenes, I just wish he got more to do. Also most of his development is crammed into the final act. But no, he’s great, absolutely. Loved the actor, too.

Jay Hernandez, take a bowier bow
-It’s legitimately funny in places. Like, it can make me laugh hard. Pretty much everything Harley or Deadshot said was a great zinger.

-Some of the side characters were actually really well characterised. I loved the guard who harasses Deadshot, and the military guys who guard the squad have their moments too.

-The dream sequence was great. Outside of one. But I love those kinds of pieces, and it’s paced well enough that it doesn’t outstay its welcome. Harley’s one was particularly great in how subtly creepy it is.

-Batman is in three brief scenes, and he feels more like Batman already than he did in Batman v Superman. I loved the scene where he apprehended Deadshot and tells him to tell his daughter to leave-it’s one of the most Batman things I’ve seen in a live action movie in a long while.

-Some of the make-up and costumes look pretty cool. Particularly on Killer Croc and Enchantress.



The Bad

-The. Fucking. Editing. Very quickly, as this has been talked to death; Warner Bros decided to get the guys who edited the very successful trailers to edit the entire movie. Apparently, the finished project is like a mishmash of both theirs and Ayer’s original cut with his approval. And holy hell does this make everything suffer! Characters are set up about two or three times, plot points get repeated, scenes end flatly or pointlessly with stupid zingers, fights are a jumbled, incoherent mess, etc. Not helped by…

-The Putty Patro-sorry, ‘Eyes of the Adversary’ suck. Like, their design is terrible and they’re horribly ineffective. I love how the dialogue tries to build them up by saying they survived being shot in the head when one of them gets killed by having its throat slit.

Pictured: Probably those guys mentioned above, I don't know...
-The cinematography is too freaking dark. Like, I get it, this is a dark movie…in theory, but the lighting is all wrong and makes it really difficult to make out a lot of what’s happening on the screen and eventually just becomes an eyesore. David Ayer kind of has a tendency to go for underlit films, but at least the editing in those is a lot more coherent and trying way less hard to impress us.

-Speaking of…holy shit, the tone is all over the place. The movie has no idea if it wants to be a light GotG-esque dark comedy or a serious supervillain black ops flick with some jokes here or there. So we get moments of intense gravitas undercut with a stupid joke here and there. It’s confused, jarring, and really doesn’t let the movie settle into a consistent feel.

-So that’s all kind of production stuff that doesn’t matter in a visual medium you know. Let’s look at plot! Unlike BvS, I can’t really think of a lot of plot holes in Suicide Squad. It’s more…weird plot decisions and slight contrivances.

-The entire formation of the team itself comes to mind. So, Amanda Waller wants to create a team to be able to take on a threat like Superman. That’s fair, logical. So she picks…a group of villains. When we know there are heroes a lot more powerful (sometimes literally) running around. The post-credit scene shows that Waller clearly knows about the other heroes, so how come she doesn’t try to contact them? Like…did you even ask the dude who TROUNCED Supes with a kitchen sink? He’d probably say no, but it’s worth the ask!

'I want you to join our team.'
'No! Let me brood, damnit! LET ME BROOD!'
'Alright, alright! Jesus.'
-Speaking of ‘powerful’: her picks are a guy who can throw boomerangs, a marksman, a mentally unwell woman with a bat, a crocodile…man, a woman with a magic sword, a guy who can climb up walls, this balsa-wood army motherfucker, and two of the members who are the most powerful are either unwilling to use said power or turn out to be impossible to control. The Suicide Squad are a wetworks team who are brought into ethically shaky or dangerous government assignments so they can shirk accountability and risk their lives due to the fact that they’re criminals and nobody would care if they died (hence the name). Framing them as a team that could take on a Superman-level threat is pretty patently ridiculous.

-I talked a bit about certain characters, so I guess I should talk about the others now. Putting aside the villains, the only other one that gets a lot of focus is Rick Flag and he’s…played by the human equivalent of Prozac Joel Kinnanman. Everything about his character bored me, he had no chemistry with Will Smith, Viola Davis or Cara Delevigne, and there was just nothing compelling in his performance. He apparently was the one who replaced Tom Hardy in the role, which to call him a poor man’s Tom Hardy is an insult too poor men Tom Hardy. He’s barely the poor man’s actor!

-As for the other characters…you could have had the entire movie without them they made so little of an impact. Captain Boomerang was fun, but only there for the occasional funny bit and that pony gag was stupid and nonsensical. Killer Croc was incomprehensible and mostly filler until the plot randomly found stuff for him to do (though he DOES get my favourite line in the movie). Katana is there.

Unrelated Killer Croc pick because I DO like his design. This is what I'd imagine
a crocodile/human hybrid would look like

-So why are the other soldiers there? Like, I understand the mission isn’t to attack Enchantress but to get Waller out of there (though one questions what they WERE going to do to stop Enchantress, but I digress), so why risk the extra men ‘not authorised’ or whatever the fuck she says before she murders them (also, those highly trained soldiers were either temporarily paralysed when she shot them or the Wall has the metahuman ability to kill people fast)?  Rick Flag had Katana to back him up, so they just wasted a perfectly good cadre for no reason! Also, love to see what would have happened if the mighty bitchslap shooting hand of Waller was smacked down by one of the men in self-defence.

-Slipknot is such a badly conceived plot point, it’s kind of hilarious. The filmmakers gave so little of a shit about making his death a surprise, he’s not in the roster layout OR character introduction, his first appearance is when the team are changing to go on their mission! Like, you have to TRY to be this lazy! R.I.P. Slipknot-thanks to mismanaged storytelling, I hardly knew ye.

I will remember you...(??)

-So I guess I’ll finally go into Harley. Now, I need to reiterate how great Margot Robbie is. She has the natural charisma, feistiness and crazy streak that makes the character so loveable down pat-she makes this role so watchable. Because the script doesn’t. Ignoring how deliberately objectified she is, Harley is a joke machine with no other personality outside of ‘zingers’. This is amazing, because not only is she the only Squad member outside of Deadshot to get a subplot that develops throughout the movie, her backstory is, if anything, over-covered! Seriously, the vat scene is stupid for various reasons and really unnecessary. So I guess that brings us to:

-Jared Leto as the Joker. With all the hype and crazy antics of Method Actor Jared Leto, it really, really didn’t pay off. He is embarrassingly awful. Like, his laugh made me want to die right there in my seat, but I probably have people who wouldn’t want that to happen maybe. Also, his purpose in the present day sequences is pretty much to service a couple of plot holes. As painful as the ‘I’m not gonna kill ya’ and club scenes are, they at least work to build up Harley’s backstory, who IS important in this film. Outside of that, the Joker’s entire character feels tacked on and pointless. It makes me wonder what the hell all the scenes that were cut out were there to accomplish.

As fanservicey as it was, the recreation of the Alex Ross painting WAS pretty cool

-Everything about Enchantress is stupid. Her backstory with Rick Flag is SO forced (I know it’s literally forced in the narrative, I meant the idea that these two planks of wood falling in love), Waller’s attempts to control her and Flag are delusional for someone who’s pretty consistently smart otherwise, her getting her heart was really damn easy (Amanda Waller, world’s most overprepared government agent, keeps the source of her control to a freakishly powerful God sleeping next to her in a briefcase), her motivation and plan are never fleshed out outside of ‘Rah-rah, humans evil, rah!’ and making a ‘machine’ which is clearly a spell, her brother is a pointless muscle character designed to pay off El Diablo’s arc (his name is Incubus, I’m sorry the movie didn’t explain that), her power set is inconsistent and/or badly used and Harley managed to outsmart her, not by actually being clever, but because she’s a fucking moron. Also Cara Delevigne sleepwalks through this performance-she’s nearly as bad as Kinnaman.

-So the bar scene is my favourite? The scene leading into it is my least. So Waller’s chopper crashes and her ledger with her connection with Enchantress is left there after she is captured (WHY DID SHE EVEN BOTHER BRINGING IT?!?!?!). Deadshot picks it up, and manages to speed read it in time to catch up with Flag and call him out from keeping Enchantress’ nature a secret from them (something the movie never makes explicitly clear, but whatever). Despite the fact that this was all established at the start of the movie, the way it’s framed makes is appear like this is meant to be a really big reveal despite this-the tone the scene has is really weird. Even the way the characters are blocked is…awkward (I keep expecting Rick Flag and Deadshot to challenge each other to a dance off or something). We get YET ANOTHER FUCKING REPEATED SCENE of Enchantress’ turning which tells us NOTHING new, and the characters then proceed to move into a different scene. It’s incompetently framed, poorly paced, pointlessly melodramatic, unconfident in its audience’s ability to pick up information and completely deflates any seriousness they may have built up previously. It pretty much sums up the movie, really.

-The make-up effects are so great that it’s a pity that the computer generated ones are…not. This particularly hurts Enchantress, who has an awesome design let down by TERRIBLE CG surrounding her.

Woof...
-Okay, this is getting way longer than I had intended, so quickly rounding off other niggling problems I had with the movie:
--In the dream sequences, despite Deadshot’s entire character motivation being about his daughter, his dream was…killing Batman. K.
--The fight scene with Harley in the elevator just screams ‘added in the reshoots’. Also, how did the Squad beat her up there on foot?
--Amanda Waller’s other secret metahuman ability is that she survives this film. I don’t really know if this is a complaint or a compliment, so take it how you will.
--Why does Captain Boomerang come back for the climax? It’s implied that Harley developed an affinity for the team, but he’s never shown as really giving a fuck about any of them.
--That bit with Deadshot seeing his daughter before shooting the bomb is so goddamn cheesy and badly handled. For the final blow to the boss and the apex of his character’s arc, I shouldn’t be laughing. It also once again exemplifies how much of an idiot Enchantress is as she thought that would work.
--Why does Harley react when Waller threatens to detonate the implants? The Joker disabled hers, and Waller knows this.
--The movie is called Suicide Squad and only two squad members die, one of whom wasn’t even introduced! Seriously, even Flag’s snore of a girlfriend June Moone survives despite Enchantress (who is possessing her, need I remind you) getting killed. Kiiiiind of toothless for such a premise, all I’m saying.
--Why is Katana in this movie?

So…yeah. May have hated this movie more than even I realised...



3/10

So before I sign off, I want to clarify a couple of things: if you liked this movie, that’s great! Seriously, a lot of folks dug this movie and there is nothing wrong with that. Hell, feel free to tell me if I’ve gone wrong anywhere in my critique; as long as it’s civil, I’d be happy to take it on board.

The reason I’m adding this caveat is because there has been a huge backlash against, well, the backlash this movie received. It’s the same with Batman v Superman, and honestly it’s growing more hostile which each passing film. I won’t go into that stupid petition, which by now has been down for months, but I see it in popular discourse with people who did like this film. I can imagine this getting worse once the upcoming director's cut (which apparently we're getting now despite them saying we' wouldn't...) gets released.

These people have brought more pain and scorn than any Batman and Robin
And I get it. I do. It’s not great to hear so many people rag on something that brought you joy for whatever reason, and sometimes for what you feel are not valid reasons. The joys and the curse of the internet is that it’s really lifted the veil on exactly how people think. Whether you like it or not, the anonymity and/or disassociation an online presence can give us unconsciously reveals a lot of uncomfortable truths about ourselves. But that’s another topic; my point is that we’re now in a world where people’s opinions are unavoidable. The naked, stupid, possibly uninformed opinions.

So let me make it clear here: DC do not need you to defend them. They are not the underdogs. They are part of a muti-billion dollar media conglomerate who sits pretty on some of the most marketable IP in the world. They’re fine. It’s just as stupid for defending Marvel for exactly the same. This kind of false ‘rivalry’ between fans of these duopolies kind of ignores the major point here: neither company gives a shit about you as long as you’re spending money on their products. This may seemcondescending…okay, it kind of is, but we tend to get sweeped up in this competitive branding ‘rivalry’ that we ignore what brings us to these companies to begin with: great books.

THIS is the only DC vs Marvel I endorse!


This is the third time in two years I’ve railed on a DC property in overlong fashion, and it’s kind of depressing me. I want DC to succeed with more than just Batman. I love DC’s characters, I just feel they are being mismanaged. Enjoying Marvel’s movies more doesn’t make me a fanboy, I just think they’re doing a better job than their main competitor. And that really shouldn’t be the case. I criticise because I CARE, you guys! I just care so much!!!

WHY AREN'T YOU GOOD, DAMNIT?!?!?!!!?!
So everybody chill. You’re free to have your opinion, just don’t shout it at each other (I’m putting both sides on trial now-I can’t deny that people who hate the movie can go too far, as well). Obsessing over whether a movie is good or not also really kills discussing any other of its other aspects, as it makes discussion pretty binary and not much else can be examined. Discussion is one of the cornerstones of being a movie fan, it’s one of the cornerstones for ‘geek’ culture! If we cannot be open and accepting of our differing views, if we shut down people for expressing their opinions, then this stops being a hobby all of us can invest so much passion into. All you do is hang yourself and your buddies on your own nooses.


Okay, I’m not ending on that stupid joke. Can’t wait for all this to be thrown out by the wayside once we all start bitching about the quality of Wonder Woman!

Pleasebegoodpleasebegoodpleasebegoodpleasebegoodpleasebegood