New Releases for Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Suicide Squad: Extended Cut
Genre: Comic Book
Directed by: David Ayer
Run time: 135 minutes
The Lowdown: Man, it sucks to be DC Comics.
The poor purveyors behind some of pop culture’s most indominable heroes just can’t catch a break compared to Marvel Studios and its masterful handling of its own superhero roster.
When DC handed over the reigns to a creative team led by Zach Snyder and David Goyer, the company must have surely thought all was well. But now, three films into the partnership, with Wonder Woman and the official Justice League ensemble still to come, the sad reality is that Snyder, Goyer and the rest of their team, including writer-director David Ayer, simply have no clue how to craft a well-executed comic book movie.
Fanboys and girls around the world had pinned their hopes on Suicide Squad, if only because it was something completely unexpected – a feature-length blast of eye candy featuring an all-villain cast with a decidedly anarchist bent. Ayer was recruited to shepherd the project to fruition, but it’s clear now that he was not the right guy for the job.
So what went wrong?
Given that the home media release of Suicide Squad includes an additional 14 minutes or so of footage not in the theatrical version, obviously someone felt like this was the definitive draft of Ayers’ vision.
And, truth be told, some of the new footage does serve to improve upon the misguided, uneven and disjointed original cut, but much of the new footage only further undermines its core character, one Harley Quinn, by making her less likeable.
That’s a shame because Harley is the lone standout from Suicide Squad, and maybe she should have just had her own movie. But if that movie had paired her with Jared Leto’s bad acid-trip, overindulgent portrayal of the Joker, even a solo Harley Quinn outing likely would have disappointed.
The biggest problem with Suicide Squad is that Ayer has no idea what movie he is making. In what’s supposed to be a team ensemble, he focuses so heavily on Harley and Will Smith’s Deadshot that it barely leaves time to flesh out the other squad members, El Diablo, Captain Boomerang and Killer Croc.
There’s an over-abundance of flashback sequences in Suicide Squad that only serve to muddy the film’s already bloated narrative. When your movie starts in the present, but only focuses on two characters, then immediately jumps back in time to further focus on those same two characters, then returns to the present for a cartoon-y introduction of the other squad members, it completely destroys the “team” concept.
Even worse, the Killer Croc character is so blatantly racist in its interpretation that the few lines of dialogue given to Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje make him sound like a modern-day Stepin Fetchit. Seriously, at one point when asked what reward he would like for risking his life, Croc responds “BET,” as in he wants to be able to watch Black Entertainment Television in his prison cell.
It should be noted that another last-minute add-on to the squad, the character Slipknot, is only introduced to get his head blown off to drive home the fact that Waller means business after she injects each of the squad with a tiny explosive in their necks, which she will detonate if any of them try to escape.
Seriously, they could have just titled this mess Harley Quinn and Deadshot and it would have at least felt like truth in advertising.
Similarly, the film doesn’t know what to do with its “protagonists” – Amanda Waller, head of ARGUS, who is the true villain of the film, and her gun-toting enforcer, Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman, looking almost as lost as he did in the Robocop reboot). Flag’s also has a right hand partner, Katana, who barely registers as a real character and whose penchant for wearing a mask and wielding a sword that captures the souls of the people it kills is never explained or mentioned.
Flag is dating archeologist June Moon (the woefully miscast Cara Delevingne), who has been inhabited by the spirit of the Enchantress. Waller controls the Enchantress by keeping her ancient heart in a locked box. This doesn’t prevent the Enchantress from teleporting to an underground subway platform bathroom and forcing some nameless guy to become inhabited by her ancient brother’s spirit. Suicide Squad is so lazy that Ayer doesn’t even bother to give the Enchantress’ brother a name. He’s just a giant mishmash of CGI that sprouts tentacles for hands and smashes a bunch of helicopters and wreaks general havoc on Midway City.
In fact, one could argue that the Enchantress and her unnamed CGI brother aren’t even a real threat since the film spends very little time focused on their plans to create an energy bomb to level Midway City. There’s a good 30 minutes or so at least at the critical peak of Suicide Squad’s bloated runtime where neither the Enchantress nor her brother even appear on screen.
Ayer further convolutes his already over-convoluted plot by introducing brief cameos from Ben Affleck as Batman and Ezra Miller as The Flash, who single-handedly capture two members of the Suicide Squad, which begs the question – if there are legitimate superheroes defending the DC universe, why would the U.S. government even entertain the idea to create a supergroup of villains? If the Suicide Squad can’t best Batman or The Flash, what makes anyone think they can stop a possible extinction-level event by an ancient demigod?
Much like the ridiculously bungled Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad just bounces along with no real dramatic tension or legitimate point for existing other than to create a series of overblown set piece to allow Leto’s Joker to try and rescue Harley Quinn, which he fails to do again and again and again.
What really, really sucks is that, despite all of its problems, much of Suicide Squad is actually watchable, which only further frustrates and infuriates because the potential for a killer film exists, lost and overshadowed by the unfortunate decision to try to do too much too quickly (and to sell merchandise at Hot Topic) that the final version, whether the theatrical or extended cut, take your pick, plays less like The Avengers and more like Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four.
The Stuff You Care About: Hot chicks – Margot Robbie rocks as Harley Quinn.
Nudity – No. Gore – No.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – It’s a toss-up between the Enchantress, the Joker, Amanda Waller and Zach Snyder.
Buy/Rent – Rent it.
New on Video-on-Demand:
Abattoir (Momentum Pictures, 98 minutes, R, VOD): Director Darren Lynn Bousman got his start assuming control of the Saw franchise from James Wan. He made three sequels to that first film before branching out on his own and legitimately starting his career as a genre auteur.
Since Saw II, III and IV, Bousman has given fans three unique musical terror-visions in Repo! The Genetic Opera, The Devil’s Carnival and Alleluia!, as well as tackled a remake of the Troma cult classic Mother’s Day and a sly urban legend/creature feature, The Barrens. He also directed one of the best segments of the 2015 horror anthology, Tales of Halloween.
Bousman is a self-professed cinematic rabble-rouser. He doesn’t like to make a movie just to make a movie.
With Abattoir, his latest feature, currently available on most streaming platforms, he tackles a ghost story as only he can – by creating a surreal alt-universe where his characters speak and behave unlike modern-day protagonists but much more so like characters from a different generation. In speaking to BVB, Bousman described Abattoir as his attempt to fashion a haunted house movie if it starred Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
That comparison works because much of Abattoir is itself an anachronism. It’s a tricky picture that demands patience but it does provide a satisfying payoff, particularly in the last 15-to-20 minutes of its dreamlike third act. It’s a brazen and bold attempt to subvert normal genre expectations and conventions of a typical haunted house film, and it works well, for the most part. It is definitely deserving of your time.
Bousman’s bad guy, Jebediah Crone, is unlike any recent movie monster, which is truly refreshing. And his vision of Crone’s Hell on Earth, the haunted house of trapped tragic souls that Crone has carefully cultivated, is truly breathtaking once it is revealed in all its glory.
Bousman himself admits Abattoir is not for everyone, but for fans of off-beat, unique and singular horror visions, it is more than worth the cost to rent to stream.
Good Tidings (XLrator Media, 99 minutes, Unrated, VOD): A homeless war veteran battles a trio of psychos dressed as Santa.
Not to be Overlooked:
Never Open the Door (Maltauro Entertainment, 64 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): A black and white homage to classic TV supernatural shows like The Twilight Zone, director Vito Trabucco’s low-fi thriller Never Open the Door suffers from uneven acting, limited special effects and a barely-smoldering story that should ignite much more quickly, given that the film is just a little more than an hour long. Still, there’s an audience for this kind of retro fare and the film is definitely watchable.
Scream Queens: The Complete First Season
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time
Zoo: Season Two
Black Christmas – Collector’s Edition
The Driller Killer
Dreamscape – Collector’s Edition
99 Women: 3-Disc Unrated Director’s Cut
Florence Foster Jenkins
Harley and the Davidsons
End of a Gun
Southside with You
The Search for Weng Weng
Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story
American Gothic: Season One