Suicide Squad Review

Suicide Squad movie posterSynopsis
Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), director of ARGUS, creates a team of super villains, designated Task Force X and led by Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), to complete covert missions. When an otherworldly entity attacks Midway City, Waller sends the team of criminals in to retrieve an important asset.

Review
It’s no secret that the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), DC’s response to Marvel’s cinematic universe, has been off to a rough start. Man of Steel has polarized fans of the character and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a convoluted mess to say the least. DC turned to David Ayer to try and turn their ship around and begin heading in the right direction to win back the fans. The end result is only somewhat successful.

I have to start out by addressing the two best things about this film: Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Deadshot is front and center of the entire film, receiving both the most development and screen time of the villains. Smith himself is such a personality that his characters seem to embody him instead of the other way around. That’s not a bad thing because he is such a great actor, it’s just that his Deadshot ends up being very similar to many of his other film characters.

However, Margot Robbie completely transformed into Harley Quinn. Yes, her outfit was nowhere close to her iconic jester outfit (which does make an appearance, by the way) but let’s face it, that’s not the best outfit for this film. Besides, it does resemble her current costumes, which are more normal outfits anyway, so it works. Moving past her outfit, Robbie nails her character, being completely psychotic and mentally unhinged without a problem. It’s amazing how well she molded into the character.

Another character that many people had their eyes on was Jared Leto’s incarnation of the Joker. Now, I’m not going to compare Leto’s Joker to Heath Ledger’s or Jack Nickolson’s because, quite frankly, they are all different characters. Each actor who has taken up the mantle has focused on a different part of the Joker. Nickolson’s Joker was a gangster, Ledger’s was an anarchist, and Leto’s is a psychopath. I don’t think I can quite say how I feel about this version yet until I get to see him in another film.

And maybe that is an issue. The Joker’s role in Suicide Squad is not as large as the promotional material might have you think. He is a antagonist but not the antagonist. He has a lot of time in Harley Quinn’s flashbacks but only pops up every so often in current day to cause problems for the team, outside of the main baddie. As much as I like the Joker, having two disconnected antagonists in the film didn’t help the story too much.

It seems Ayer tried to learn a thing or two from MoS and BvS and tried to make this movie a more lighthearted affair. The character introductions alone have more color and pop than the two previous DCEU movies combined. I enjoyed this sequence because it gave fun, quick introductions to the main players. Each character also got their own unique song to go with their scene, in a very similar sounding soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy, that was just a blast to listen to.

Also throughout the film, it tries to lighten the mood and actually crack a joke or two. Much of the comedy comes from Smith, because why not, but it works for the most part. Other characters get their moments, like Boomerang (Jai Courtney) or Harley Quinn. Not every joke or obviously-meant-to-be-humorous moment hits their mark but it is good to see DC make a movie that is not super dark.

In ensemble films, it is inevitable that some characters will get more or less screen time than others. As I said in the beginning, a lot of the focus is on Deadshot and Harley, and to a lesser extent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and the Joker. This left most of the cast poorly developed. Even the main villain was affected by this. They don’t have much motivation other than “I’m a bad guy.”

I thought Suicide Squad was GOOD :-). Much more of the titular team needed more development besides Deadshot and Harley Quinn, who ended up being the two best things about the movie. I’m interested to see Jared Leto’s Joker again because I really want to get a better feel for his version of the iconic character. Suicide Squad may not be perfect but damn it if I didn’t have fun.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
David Ayer – Director / Writer
Steven Price – Composer

Will Smith – Deadshot
Margot Robbie – Harley Quinn
Joel Kinnaman – Rick Flag
Cara Delevigne – June Moon / Enchantress
Jai Courtney – Boomerang
Jay Hernandez – Diablo
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje – Killer Croc
Karen Fukuhara – Katana
Adam Beach – Slipknot
Jared Leto – The Joker
Viola Davis – Amanda Waller
David Harbour – Dexter Tolliver
Ike Barinholtz – Griggs
Ted Whittall – Admiral Olsen
Shailyn Pierre-Dixon – Zoe

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Ender’s Game Review

Ender's Game movie posterSynopsis
In order to find the next battle commander to lead Earth’s forces against the alien Formics, the International Fleet recruits promising children into Battle School. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), their most hopeful student yet, must go through grueling challenges to prove he has what it takes to lead the fleet to victory.

Review
I only recently read Ender’s Game, written by Orson Scott Card. Some of my friends told me it was a fun read, and with the movie coming out, I decided now was as good a time as any to read it. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, so I was excited to see Ender’s world unfold on the big screen. Ender’s Game hits all the major story beats of the book, but lacks the characterization that made it so enjoyable.

Going into the differences between the book and the movie is going into spoiler territory and is a whole other article itself. But if that’s what you are interested in, here is an article from Cinema Blend explaining some of the major differences. What is good to know, though, is the movie does feature all the important scenes from the book.

One of the first things I noticed was how gorgeous the special effects looked. Visually, Ender’s Game stunning, I could actually imagine being in battle school right next to Ender, or in the cockpit with Mazer Rackham when he’s fighting the Formics. Definitely on of the best looking films this fall.

For a cast consisting of mainly inexperienced actors, the acting was pretty good. Asa Butterfield embodied the character of Ender perfectly. Moises Arias was intimidating as Bonzo and Hailee Steinfeld easily makes you feel Petra’s sympathy. The other children, such as Abigail Breslin as Valentine, Suraj Parthasarathy as Alai, and Aramis Knight as Bean, didn’t get much time on screen but they did well with what time they did have.

If the idea of children violence does not sit well with you, this may not be a movie for you. Although it is nothing compared to The Hunger Games, there are several fight scenes between Ender and some others, and characters are fairly aggressive towards him, too. Just something to keep in mind.

Throughout the entire movie, the story felt really rushed. The story quickly moves from Ender on Earth, to Battle school, then to his final training. Outside of Ender, and maybe Petra, not much time is spent focused on the characters. We don’t learn much about them. Characters such as Graff kept saying how much of a tactical genius Ender is, but it felt like we didn’t see it too much. I know I’ve complained about movies running too long, but if there is extra time spent on characterization, that time is worth it. Ender’s Game runs just under two hours. It would have benefited greatly by even having a few extra scenes to delve into Ender’s, and his friends’, state of mind.

As I said before, all the major story beats are touched, but that also means that everything else was either compressed or missing. Some of my favorite parts from the book were Ender in Battle School, learning about tactics, training his team, and forging bonds with Bean and the rest. Instead, the story was put on the back burner to give more focus on the visuals. As beautiful as the movie was, a lot was sacrificed in terms of story. It does, however, manage to keep the core of the story intact. Which I guess is a plus considering many film adaptations get a complete overhaul compared to their source material.

Ender’s Game is a fairly faithful adaptation of the book. Much of the characterization was removed to move the story along, but the core story remains intact. The children gave excellent performances and the visuals were stunning. Fans of the Card’s book should definitely watch this film, but even if you haven’t read it, Ender’s Game is still worth checking out.

Rating
3/5