Let me tell you, yet another review, this one more of a meta-review on the direction of a movie studio. The End of the Decline for DC? That’s right, I’m calling it. Or at least, Suicide Squad shows they finally realised they’re heading in the wrong direction.
Suicide Squad has been the hope of fans that DC might start making movies that aren’t depressing soliloquies on the interchangeability of good and evil. Which is odd, considering Suicide Squad is specifically about “bad guys” acting as heroes, but it’s the tone people seem to want changed, rather than the message.
I went into the movie with high hopes, and didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought. The tone of Suicide Squad fails to live up to the wacky-punk of its promotional material and trailers. This makes sense – from what I understand, the movie was filmed in the tone of BvS, and then desperately recut at the last second to try to make it more like the trailers, which were clearly more popular.
It did succeed in a few places where BvS failed. Most importantly, it was internally coherent. I’ve heard people say that BvS is really good if you’ve read the comics, but that just means that it failed as a movie. Movies aren’t supposed to rely on people already knowing the story to tell a coherent tale. Suicide Squad tells a good story of the “good guys” using the “bad guys” to save the world, with fairly standard depictions of the government-run as heartless and evil. Refreshingly, the bad guys were all depicted as actual bad guys, even if a few of them are eminently relatable.
I’m not a fan of this Joker, even as I recognise the different style it’s promoting. Put simply, this Joker isn’t beguiling. Previous incarnations (Batman & The Dark Night) were gifted orators, and even if you didn’t agree with them you could see how they might convince others – think about The Joker talking to Harvey Dent in the hospital. This incarnation had none of that seductive banter, which is a shame because in this movie, where they show a psychiatrist falling in love with the Joker. That wasn’t believable, at least as it was shown in the movie.
A major part of superhero movies are the fight scenes, and they were good in this movie, but there weren’t enough of them. There was a lot of bluster and macho posturing, but that tends to fall flat in the action stakes. A lot of the action sequences from the introduction, where they provided the background of the characters, should have been put in the story. They could have been more exciting, and served the plot instead of the backstory.
All in all, I give the movie 7/10. It had some good parts, but there should have been a lot more. They could have gotten away with a bit more wacky oddness, and a bit less exposition. I mean, the most surreal part of the experience was watching Stephen Hawking hawking cars before the feature. If you like the previous few Batman movies, and you’re a fan of the comics, you’ll like this movie.
I haven’t read any of the reviews of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice because I wanted to see the movie with an untainted mind. Still, when the titles are all along the lines of “This is the worst movie ever” and “I would rather gouge out my eyes with a rusty spoon than see this again”, the sentiment is pretty clear.
My official verdict: The movie is pretty good. There are great visuals and a steady (if slow) build up of suspense and threat. DC is sticking by its grimdark approach to superhero movies, which I’m OK with – there a people who say they should take a lesson from Marvel, but then all the superhero movies would be the same…and they’d probably be criticised for not trying something new.
Ben Affleck played Batman the same way all the other actors since Micheal Keaton have. Henry Cavill played Superman the way you expect him to be played, with possibly less smiles. The actors for the support characters did their job, and Gal Gadot was great as Wonder Woman. I’m looking forward to that movie now.
However, there were some things I thought were mistakes, or which could have been changed to improve the movie.
Too long a set-up
The set-up of the premise – that Batman was going to try to kill Superman – went for ages and ages and ages. A third or a half of the movie. Seriously, they should have checked out Fast & Furious 7, which introduced the main villain and had the entire premise set up in two minutes. If the audience is suspending their disbelief enough to accept an invincible man who can fly and shoot laser fire from his eyes, it isn’t much to ask them to make the leap that some people want to kill that man, possibly for erroneous reasons. Then straight onto the action. There are some subsets of this point:
Batman Is a Second-Rate Villain: You know how villains, such as Batman’s line-up of adversaries, often lose because they spend all their time blabbing to the hero instead of just dealing the death blow? Considering how many people he’s thought, you’d really think Batman would know better.
Featuring The Joker as Lex Luthor: Apparently DC thought that since the Joker is their most popular villain, possibly their most popular character, the movie would be improved by having Lex Luthor talk a lot of oblique nonsense. I don’t think it suited the character at all. Jesse Eisenburg played the character well, but he should have been playing a different character. I think if he’d had better dialogue and direction he would have made a great Luthor. This might lead into the greatest problem of all with the movie:
The Characters Aren’t Consistent With Their History: I’ll be honest, I don’t much care about Batman or Superman, so I didn’t particularly care that they both seemed rather cavalier with life. However, I think a major idea behind those characters is that they don’t kill people, and changing that really changes the character. I can see how that would annoy fans.
Finally, the title – Dawn of Justice. What the hell did that have to do with the movie? If it’s setting up the Justice League, it’s pretty lame. You don’t title the movie to be a hint about a sequel.