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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 »

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The new hotness.

Never been a fan of Mark Millar’s comic books, especially the ones that get made into movies, but I do seem to like the movie versions. Wanted, Kick-Ass, and now Kick-Ass 2 are all much better films than they ever were comic books. This owes mostly to intelligent, often massive changes done to the source material. The books these movies are based on are fun in some ways, but also steeped in a repulsive nihilistic meanness that is watered down in each respective film. It seems odd to praise adaptations that not only massively alter the source, but also cut out significant amounts of darkness and shock value. That said, it fits here simply because tone is what matters and the filmmakers who’ve worked on Millar’s stuff all seem to have a better understanding of audience tolerance than Millar does. Or perhaps the comic book audience, particularly his, are just that different from the rest of us.

I’ll get into specific examples later but because it’s not my policy to use adaptive comparisons as criticisms (if it can be avoided), it’s not really pertinent to the broader question of whether or not Kick-Ass 2 is a good movie. It is a good movie, by the way, but not because it’s better than its book. Hopefully that makes sense!

Like the first tone, Kick-Ass 2 is an irreverent and crude little gem that takes the idea of real-world superheroes and runs with it, ending up far away from realism but still well within its own parameters. It’s more like “real-world superheroes in the world of Kick-Ass“. Along the way, it stops to joke about or comment on various comic book tropes. While some would call Kick-Ass deconstructive, it’s actually reconstructive. It only starts out taking a shot at the silly tropes and uncomfortable realities of real-world superheroes. Eventually, it circles around to embracing those tropes and thrusting forward its bonafides as an actual, legit superhero movie. So does Kick-Ass 2, and it is by far the more straight-forward of the two movies. That said, it lacks some of the balance and tidy structure of the first, as well as the ridiculous, awesome action of the first movie. Which is what most people remember about it. Read the rest of this entry »

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