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Oh look, a trainwreck.

Let’s just get this out of the way really quick: Suicide Squad is mostly dogshit but there are a few moments where it firmly enters genuine “so bad it’s good” territory and other moments where it’s trying so goddamn hard to manipulate you into feeling something that you just wanna say “good job, little guy” and give it a pat on the head. There’s even a few moments that feel earned, where the glimmer of a better movie is almost visible. But mostly it’s dogshit.

Why? God, where do I even start. It’s a music video of loosely connected moments, an insultingly hackneyed plot, and poorly constructed characterizations which are usually good for a laugh or an incredulous “what the fuck?” but rarely more. There’s also that it’s the most smugly, overtly misogynistic mainstream movie I’ve seen in a long time. May our inner fourteen year olds cheer. I mean, there’s definitely an audience for this. The anti-PC crowd will eat up every utterance of “bitch” or “ho”, every sexed up costume and variation on “women be crazy“. I already know from the audience I saw it with that women getting punched in the face at the drop of a dime is just delightful. Your faith in humanity will not be well served by Suicide Squad audiences, but that’s nothing unusual. More than the overall quality of the movie, I was surprised by the misogyny. I like David Ayer. FuryEnd of Watch, and Training Day are all fantastic films. But his aesthetic is “street” and here it is the kind of street evoked by youtube gangsta rappers who are trying too hard. Likely, this is where the unaddressed misogyny comes from: it’s part of the assumed iconography of “street” culture where there’s men and there’s bitches or hos or bitch-hos. I think the script of Suicide Squad says a lot about what he and the other creatives for the DC movieverse think about the fans of these stories and characters, though. I think instead of whining to critics (or threatening them) or trying to sue because Joker isn’t in the movie enough, these fanboys ought to vote with their dollars (and their attention) and give WB a reason to stop hiring people who think so little of them. Of all of us, really.

Anyway, yeah, Suicide Squad is really bad. Is it worse than Batman vs. Superman? I don’t know. Do you compare dogshit to catshit very often? They’re two of the worst superhero movies in recent memory, I can tell you that much. And yet. And yet, Suicide Squad is also a fascinating watch. I was never bored. Very much like the first viewing of a Michael Bay Transformers movie, I was kind of transfixed (and yes, entertained) by what I was seeing and hearing. Sometimes I could not believe the movie and other times I was almost on the hook for a heroic moment or a badass line. I think it’s fair to say I was never “with” this movie, and my enjoyment was almost always at its expense. This movie might have had something, but it’s like watching Jared Leto play hot potato with himself for almost two hours. Or like an episode of The Venture Brothers that wasn’t trying to be a parody. Read the rest of this entry »

JR2

Jack Reacher is best understood as a modern-day knight errant. That’s a sort-of damsel behind him.

I usually like to let a movie gestate a bit before I write a review. I don’t always know why I do that. Sometimes I guess it’s to put distance between myself and the initial reaction. Often, I like a movie way more than it deserves when I’ve just seen it. More rarely, I feel a disproportionate dislike for it. Usually for movies I “should” have liked, a second viewing clears that right up. I can usually predict when that’s going to be the case. That said, if I can come up with concrete reasons why a movie is good or bad, they tend to stick. It’s the emotional reaction I try to mitigate, being a big believer in harnessing as much critical objectivity as I can muster.

So having said all that, Jack Reacher is a pretty damn good movie. It’s witty, fast-paced, smart enough to be fun but not distancing, and has some pretty great action to boot. If you don’t like Tom Cruise, you’re probably destined to (wrongfully) not like this movie. This movie pretty much is Tom Cruise. The first credit even lists it as a “Tom Cruise” production. Now, I am not the sort that this bothers but if you are then you probably should keep that in mind as you read. Also note that Jack Reacher is a power fantasy, but it’s a fun one that let’s us in on that fun. This is the key ingredient to making a power fantasy work. Read the rest of this entry »

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