By Chris Campo
Every year, there are a handful of films that you see a trailer for and go "Hey! That film looks pretty good! I should probably check it out!." But then you never get around to seeing it. Free State of Jones, for me at least, was one of those films. I love Matthew McConaughey, especially lately, and I think Gary Ross has made some fine films - but like I said, I just never got around to seeing it. But I have now seen the film from the comfort of my own home and I am now here to review this film. Oh goody.
Free State of Jones stars Matthew McConaughey as Newt Knight (what a cool name), a soldier for the confederate army who, for reasons I won't spoil, returns home only to be accused of being a deserter. On the run, Knight runs into a group of runaway slaves taking shelter at a swamp. Together, Knight and the slaves build a rebellion to fight against the unfair ways of Confederate Government. Sounds like film of the year potential, right? Oh boy, is that statement false, as this film is a boring and creatively mute experience that I can not recommend unless you're a history teacher, which really shouldn't be the case with such a historically important story.
If I'm being perfectly honest, I fell asleep during this film. Sure, maybe it was my fault as I watched this film at about midnight, but I always watch late films. The problem is that this film is unforgivably boring. Now, I hate criticizing a film for being boring, as many of my all time favorite films are slow paced and don't have an awful lot going on, but this film has a tonne going on! A tonne of interesting and important stories that just happen without much to them, all before the movie suddenly ends. Yes, after I woke up I did continue and finish the film, but I'm still not sure that was the best decision.
The script juggles a lot and doesn't do a great job at it, but the real problem is this film isn't very well made. Gary Ross brings no style to this film. It's not that I want a film with this subject matter to have the style of Kingsman, I just don't want to feel like I'm watching a crappy, low budget History Channel Special. He does some interesting things with time jumps and photographs, but it's nothing that is going to effectively keep your attention. The film is also way too long, and it just doesn't need to be. It's horribly paced and feels 4 hours long. There are some scenes that just feel so obvious and pointless that they should have been cut completely from the film to tighten it up a bit.
On the bright side, everyone acts the hell out of the film. Everyone gives it their all and the cast is the sole reason this film isn't a History Channel Special, it seems. McConaughey's great and there shouldn't have been any doubt about that, although he isn't given much to work with. Sure, he can deliver a great speech, but when all he does is deliver speeches, it gets a little redundant. So yes, McConaughey's terrific, but truly wasted in this film. On the plus side, there isn't ever a scene where you go "Hot damn this is a bad movie." And what I mean by that is that the film isn't filled with awful scenes or cringe-worthy moments, it's just that overall it doesn't come together as a quality film, which is sad because the story that is being told should have been done justice.
Overall, this film is not worth your time. It isn't truly an awful movie, but it's just so boring and uninspired that you would be better off reading historical summaries of the events. Hell, even writing this review was boring and difficult for me to sit through. It has a great cast and it isn't a total train wreck, but this is still not a movie that you should check out.
1 1/2 Stars
By Jack Dignan
In this day and age, remakes are not an uncommon occurrence. In fact, they occur almost a little too often, Hollywood always cashing in on popular titles. Ben-Hur is one of the most iconic films of all time, winning a whopping eleven Academy Awards including best picture. It's a classic. Now, in 2016, over 50 years after the release of the original, we get an upbeat, action packed retelling of this landmark piece of cinema, from the director of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter no less. To be fair, that sounds a whole lot worse than the actual movie is, but my god, this just really doesn't need to exist.
Set in Ancient Rome, Ben-Hur is the story of a wealthy prince by the name of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston). His adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell) is sent away to war for a number of years, only to return as an officer, now in charge of a large number of soldiers. Shortly after returning, Judah Ben-Hur and the rest of his family are falsely accused of a crime none of them even committed. His family are killed, and Judah Ben-Hur is sent away to a life of slavery. When his ship is sunk, he winds up in the custody of Ilderim (Morgan Freeman), who gives Judah Ben-Hur an opportunity to take his revenge.
I went into this movie expecting absolute dog shit. The trailers were horrendous, the reviews were bad, and it just didn't sound like a necessary movie. It failed to captivate my interests, and I will be honest, it wasn't until I got the screening invite that I even realised this film was coming out soon. It sort of came out of nowhere for me. Expectations were low, and I guess that's the reason why I'm surprised at just how average the film is. This could've been a total train wreck, and for one reason or another, it's not. Barely.
Trimming down the three hour and forty minute runtime of the 50s version, this new Ben-Hur has been revamped for a modern day audience, creating a slow paced, mildly entertaining and mindless action film. Should it be an action film? Probably not. But it is, so I guess I have to review it as one. It doesn't manage to come close to being as epic as it hopes to be, as at times it does feel pretty cheap and poorly made, but they try very hard. It just can't help but feel even more staged and theatrical than it probably is.
We begin in Rome, prior to Messala's departure to the war, and it's during this opening sequence that I was mildly invested in the story. Sure, everything looks cheap and like plastic, but I was enjoying seeing this brother dynamic blossom, planting the seeds of everyone's relationships. It's when Ben-Hur is sold off into slavery that the film started to become a bit of a mixed bag. It's a three hour epic condensed down into two, all of the storylines being rushed through as quickly as possible, and it's all over the place. Some things work, others don't. They're unable to find the right balance for the plot, and the result isn't pretty.
In terms of performances, there's nobody that's necessarily bad, per say, but nobody is fantastic, either. Jack Huston does an impressive job as Ben-Hur, but nothing about what he does feels like new ground. He gives a fairly safe performance that doesn't scream with brilliance. He is simply fine, nothing more. Toby Kebbell is a slight improvement, although a great deal of his lines in the first act feel forced. The third act is where he shines, even if there is a moment where he looks like a cat meme, and that moment made me laugh out loud in the middle of the cinema. Also, I'd like to take a moment to appreciate Morgan Freeman's dreadlocks because they were hilariously beautiful.
Now, I can't really talk about Ben-Hur (any of them, really) without discussing the famous chariot race. While it does take place towards the finale, it's not a spoiler. A) it's been showcased all over the posters and trailers. B) the original chariot race is one of the most iconic scenes of all time. C) the movie opens with the start of the race. So do not worry, no spoilers are found here. As for the actual race, it is, predictably, the best part of the movie. There's nothing shocking or surprising about any of it, but it's a fun sequence and an exciting way to start wrapping the film up.
To sum up, Ben-Hur is a mixed bag of a movie, varying from being mildly entertaining to predictable and boring. All the sets look cheap and plastic, and the storylines don't flow all that well together, but the performances aren't horrendous and there's some fun to be had, especially during the climactic chariot race.
2 1/2 Stars
By Jack Dignan
Laika Animation first came onto my radar with their 2009 stop motion film, Coraline. It was a dark and twisted kids movie, and after rewatching it recently, it still holds up. The studio followed that up with Paranorman in 2012, another kids film with a supernatural twist, and I loved that movie too. In 2014 they released The Boxtrolls, and while many found that to be underwhelming, I really enjoyed it. It's the most family oriented of the three, and it worked. The studio's fourth feature film, Kubo and the Two Strings, sees them tackling a film unlike their previous three works. While it may be a very different movie, that doesn't mean it is of any less quality. In fact, Kubo and the Two Strings is every bit as beautiful as you would expect from Laika.
We follow the story of a young boy named Kubo (Art Parkinson), who spends his days telling stories to the local town, much to their enjoyment. But when the sun sets, evil is abound, and Kubo is forbidden from stepping foot outside of his home. Except one day he does, and he's approached by his mother's two evil sisters (both voiced by Rooney Mara). After a series of mystical, heartbreaking events that shall remain unspoilt, Kubo is separated from his town and his mother. Aided by a Monkey (Charlize Theron) and a Beetle (Mathew McConaughey), Kubo is given the daunting challenge of collecting an ancient armour worn by his father, and if he does so, he will have the power to take down the threatening Moon King (Ralph Fiennes), who is the man behind all this evil.
With deep themes and an emotional storyline, Kubo and the Two Strings is a film that will appeal to all, even at times feeling as though it's more aimed at an adult audience. There's plenty of action and adventure to be found, and when it's on screen it's beyond exciting, but some of the best moments in this movie are the slower, quieter and more personal moments involving Kubo. It's our emotional attachment to this character that had me invested in his story, and while the third act isn't nearly as emotionally powerful as it thinks it is, I really dug what they were trying to do.
Taking us on this moving journey are a trio of heroes, all of whom kick some serious ass and each have a unique and loveable personality. Right from the opening scene, I was already attached to Kubo. It's impossible not to be, and you'll see why. He makes for a fascinating and layered character, and the voice work by Parkinson is excellent. His two companions, Monkey and Beetle, needed a bit more of an introduction before I was fully invested in their stories, but the more time we spent with them, the more I fell in love with them. Beetle, to me, was the more likeable of the two, but goddamn, Monkey made me incredibly emotional, and I definitely loved what they did with her.
It's through these three characters that Laika are able to tell such a beautiful and poignant story. It's a story of family, adventure and so much more, and it never feels familiar or clichéd. There's so many new and exciting things added to the table that, by the time the credits rolled, I felt strangely blissful. If Laika keeps this up, it's not going to be too long before they're seen on the same level as Studio Ghibli and Pixar. In fact, with four feature films now under their belt, I'm almost tempted to say they've already reached that level.
Few films are made with stop motion nowadays, and that's simply because it's too time consuming, especially when in comparison to 3D animation, and as we've seen in recent years, 3D animation is at the top of its game in terms of the quality of the animation. As a big fan of animated films, I love stop motion. I think it's a wonderful art form, and when a film comes along like Kubo and the Two Strings, I just have to see it. I need to support it. And I'm glad I did, because this is truly some of the most breathtaking stop motion I have ever seen. Laika have stepped their game up for Kubo and the Two Strings, and I loved the visual style of the whole thing.
That being said, this is not a perfect movie. Like previously mentioned, the third act is where most of this film's problems arise. It's not a boring third act, but it's just never as good as it wants to be, nor thinks it is. It tries to do a few too many things, and when the villain starts to reveal themselves and their motive, I just couldn't buy into it. They're built up to be this big threatening figure, but in the end, they failed to live up to the hype, proving to be not nearly as interesting of an antagonist as Rooney Mara's Sisters.
While not on the same level as Coraline and Paranorman, but ranked just above The Boxtrolls, Kubo and the Two Strings is a delightful and adventurous tale that's thematically deep and emotionally investing. The animation is beautiful, the characters are great, and while the finale isn't as great as it thinks it is, I still really enjoyed this movie.
3 1/2 Stars
By Jack Dignan
It's a true story you won't believe is true. Movies claim that they're true stories all the time, and it's easy to pick apart the inaccuracies they hold. It's easy to tell which ones are real and which are fictitious, and most of the time, the filmmakers admit that. But War Dogs is not like that. War Dogs, based on all that I've heard about the true story, is in fact very true. The biggest shocks, twists and surprises all happened, and while I'm sure it's not 100% accurate, the fact that this is a true story is just mind blowing. This film is so ridiculous, dark, energetic and hilarious that it could've gotten away with being unrealistic fiction. But it's not. And it's great.
War Dogs follows the story of David Packouz (Miles Teller), a young man trying to make a living as a massage therapist. With the arrival of a newborn baby on the way, David is in desperate need of money. Timed to perfection, David's childhood best friend, Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill), arrives back in town, and after the two do some catching up, David discovers that Efraim is an international arms dealer, and he offers David a job. The two start out with some small time deals, feeding off the "crumbs" and leaving the "pie" for everyone else. That is until a $300 million deal with the pentagon arises, requesting them to supply arms to soldiers in Afghanistan, and it's this job that puts them in some rather tricky situations, to say the least.
Dark, funny and serious when it needs to be, War Dogs is the war equivalent of The Wolf of Wall Street, even at times feeling oddly reminiscent of a Scorsese film, but done to a much lower quality. This real life crime-comedy is all sorts of things, and predictable isn't one of them. As the story unravels, it just gets more and more insane, the situations these two get themselves into becoming increasingly dangerous, especially when they become involved with Bradley Cooper's character, who's on a terrorist watch list. It's not necessarily a happy story, but it sure was an entertaining one.
Director Todd Phillips has previously handled films such as the Hangover trilogy and Due Date. With War Dogs, he still retains his perfect comedic timing, as there are some laugh out loud hilarious moments, but he also matures a little bit, able to tell a meaningful and important story. It may just be the most well directed film he's made to date, as it doesn't feel like a flimsy comedy, but instead a well put together movie. He stepped his game up and it worked.
Hill and Teller are both, in their own rights, fantastic actors. Sure, they've done some not-so-great movies, but what actor hasn't? War Dogs sees them once again tackling a serious subject matter, and they're both brilliant. In terms of characters, I wasn't emotionally invested in either of them. Teller does his best to gain my investment, and I guess he did to some degree thanks to his great performance, but I wasn't attached. Hill, however, wasn't meant to be all that likeable, and he really isn't. The performance, on the other hand, was freaking great. Those who see Hill as a comedic actor only are yet to see his true talent. The man is versatile, and every performance continues to get better and better.
The biggest downside to War Dogs is that, while the story itself is fresh, the filmmaking and storytelling tropes felt very familiar. With Miles Teller serving as our narrator, we're spoon fed every bit of information, and this is done through techniques we've seen time and time again. Nothing about the way they handle the subject matter is innovative, and sure, it's a very entertaining and well directed movie, but really, it's nothing new. You won't leave the cinema with your mind blown, but for what it was, it's a hell of a good time.
To sum up, War Dogs is not going to make you fall in love with cinema all over again, but with a fresh and unpredictable true story to tell, as well as some fantastic performances and quality directing, it's an entertaining one nonetheless. Dark, twisted and funny, this film is worth your money.
3 1/2 Stars
By Jack Dignan
Jaws is one of the most iconic movies of all time, and for good reason. Not only is it the most famous shark movie of all time, but it was also the start of Hollywood blockbusters. In the years since, there's been many attempts to make a solid shark thriller, and most of them end up being just as good as Sharknado. I did not have high expectations for The Shallows. The second trailer that got released kinda killed it for me a little bit. But, over 40 years after the release of Jaws, here we are with The Shallows, a film that works a lot better than I imagined it would.
We follow the story of Nancy (Blake Lively), who recently dropped out of medical school and has travelled all the way to the mysterious, well hidden and unnamed beach her mother went to when she found out she was pregnant. While surfing at this beach, Nancy is attacked by a Great White Shark, and she's forced onto a rock for safety. With just 200 feet between her and the shore, surviving should be an easy task... except for the fact that the shark isn't giving up anytime soon. It's a game of survival, and with very little options of what to do, winning this game isn't looking very likely.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra, the man who brought us Run All Night and Non-Stop, has managed to successfully create a suspense driven thriller that's both terrifying and a tonne of fun, not to mention super well directed. I am not a surfer, and while I know this film is far from realistic and a shark would never actually do the things it does, I'm definitely not going to give surfing a try anytime soon. Scary, uneasy and at times, even difficult to watch, The Shallows uses a fairly basic blueprint when it comes to plot, but it uses this blueprint effectively, and my heart was racing.
For the most part, this film is just Blake Lively alone on a rock, along with an adorable show-stealing seagull who I had a bigger emotional investment in. But aside from that extremely loveable bird, and the uh killer shark, it's really just her. She has to carry this entire movie, and that's a big task. She's not going to be winning any Oscars for her role, but in my opinion, she did a solid job. She's a strong character with a handy set of skills (she'd totally be dead if she hadn't gone to med school) and Lively really sells her.
It gets off to a solid start, and even manages to draw out the suspense all throughout the second act, but the third act is when things begin to fall apart. It's this third act where, not only does the CGI significantly drop in quality, but a great deal of the suspense washes away, replaced with an action heavy finale that ends on an extremely ridiculous, laugh out loud hilarious moment that's both awful and amazing. The entire audience burst into applause when this one event happened, and while it's not all that scary, it was pretty cool. Over the top and stupid, sure, but pretty damn cool, too.
To sum up, The Shallows is a well directed and incredibly suspenseful thriller that's both tense and difficult to watch. Blake Lively gives one of her best performances to date, and while the third act does get a bit ridiculous, it doesn't take away from the effectiveness of the rest of the film.
3 1/2 Stars
By Anthony Cancasci
With a movie titled Sausage Party, it may be safe to form some prejudgments before stepping into the theater. Seth Rogen and co. have proved time and time again that they have what it takes to spin a normal comedy into a controversial blockbuster, exemplified by 2014’s The Interview, which saw Rogen and frequent collaborator James Franco plotting to assassinate a grandiose portrayal of North Korea’s real life dictator, Kim Jong Un. That film sparked national debate, was pulled from theaters, and nearly resulted in nuclear retaliation. Then, although not as quite a spectacle, we saw this year’s Neighbors 2 discussing themes of sexism and feminist ideals via Zac Efron pulling his ballsack out. Now, after much time spent in a creative limbo, we’re finally treated to Rogen’s animated passion project about a group of grocery food products asking life’s big questions.
The story follows Frank (Rogen), a sausage in a grocery store who hopes to one day be chosen by the Gods who walk around him, where he will be taken to The Great Beyond, a dietary heaven where foods are treated to all of their wildest fantasies, and where Frank will finally be able to put his sausage into the bun of his girlfriend, Brenda (Kristen Wiig). But, in a furious turn of events that hilariously parodies Saving Private Ryan, Frank, Brenda, and a few other foods are separated from their packages and become lost in the store. This begins a series of dark discoveries that lead Frank and his friends to finding out the truth regarding the Great Beyond: that food is eaten. The spectacle is a surreal take on existentially dressed up as a clever comedy about cartoon food. Riddled with food puns, an antagonist who’s literally a douche, and burgeoning skepticism and commentary on religious belief as well as race relations, Sausage Party still achieves its goal of pleasing the audience as an ultrafuckedup Toy Story affiliate.
With a style akin to that of 2004’s Team America: World Police, Sausage Party finds new boundaries to push while maintaining the same style of humour that Apatow’s homegrown band of misfits have come to be revered for. Alongside an amazing cast that features Michael Cera as a deformed sausage, James Franco as a bath salt shooting junkie, Salma Hayek as a repressed lesbian taco, and Edward Norton as a bagel who sounds suspiciously like Woody Allen, Rogen delivers a knockout punch that leaves you lying on the floor of the frozen foods aisle, your gut wrenching from laughter and your head dizzy from thinking.
The thing that stands out about Sausage Party is its ability to simultaneously be a laugh out loud comedy about food sex and a think-piece full of metaphors mirroring our own human doubts about life’s meaning. The film itself is a unique brand of offbeat comedy marketed to the majority. All in all, Sausage Party is just too good for its audience. Those labeling the film a ‘dumb comedy’ have obviously missed the point and fallen victim to simply acknowledging the movie’s many one-liners about sausages. Its third act is a nearly flawless unraveling of cleverness and debauchery, pumping new meaning into the veins of the term “food porn”, as well as delivering the brilliant message that, while many people live their life in wait of Heaven, we sometimes miss out on the fact that life on Earth could be Heaven, if only we let it be. I commend writers Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffer, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen for coming up with such an inventive comedy in the days of such bland profanity as Dirty Grandpa and Unfinished Business, as well as directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon for ruining the innocence of animated films for eternity.
At a meagre 89 minutes, Sausage Party comes out on top as the funniest movie of the year, a truly dizzying fever dream of epic proportions that will only launch its makers further in the ranks of their comedic genius. Find that special someone in your life and treat them to this film. At the very least, you’ll be a little more weary at your next barbeque.
By Jack Dignan
While Bad Moms (damn you America and your strange spelling of the word mum) may, as the title states, be about bad mothers, the film itself is tributing quite the opposite. Well, maybe not the opposite, per say, but it is a tribute to mums everywhere. It's a party-till-you-die comedy that works as a moving and entertaining tribute to mums of all shapes, sizes, ages and nationalities. It's a tribute to everything that mums do, and it works. It may not look like the type of film you'd want to see with a parent, but if you have a mum, take them to see this film. Shockingly, you won't regret that.
From the writers of The Hangover and writer-directors of 21 & Over (erg) comes Bad Moms, a film that follows the story of Amy (Mila Kunis), a mother of two with a husband who she's no longer in love with. Sick of following the rules, Amy decides to become a bad mum- I mean mom, standing up against the "perfect" mum, Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate). Taking Amy's side are two other mums, Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and Kiki (Kristen Bell), who are on the brink of insanity. Together, they go out of their way to break all the rules, being relaxed, careless mums who have ditched all needed responsibility.
While the plot is incredibly thin, Bad Moms is a tonne of fun. These three leads have proven time and time again to be very talented actresses, and when placed together, they're comedy dynamite. Kristen Bell absolutely stole the show in this movie, her lonely, stress driven character given all the best lines. Mila Kunis, as well, is pretty damn fantastic, her character both hilarious and loveable, and her story arc is surprisingly interesting and heartfelt. Kathryn Hahn, however, I seem to be hot and cold with. In some films, she's great, whereas in others I haven't liked her quite as much. She's certainly the weakest link of the three leads, but even she has her moments to shine.
There are plenty of jokes that fall flat, and the three antagonists, played by Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith and Annie Mumolo, are clichéd and irritable, but when the film is funny, it's goddamn hilarious. It's not on the same level as The Hangover, but I would put it on the same level as Sisters, which was released earlier this year and, in my opinion, has a few similarities to Bad Moms. Bad Moms is not a display of fantastic filmmaking, nor fantastic writing, but if you're after a fun, inspiring time at the movies, Bad Moms is for you.
To sum up, Bad Moms is a predictable, plot-less film with a lot of jokes that fall flat and some really irritating characters, but it's also a fun, simple and rather hilarious tribute to mums everywhere, and when it comes down to it, this was just a really entertaining film. It's not perfect, but I was never bored.
By Jack Dignan
The first trailer for Suicide Squad came out just over a year ago, and now the film is set to open this weekend. The hype is insane, and the film was confirmed to be the most talked about movie on social media. The advertising is everywhere, and I'm certain nearly every person on the planet has heard of this movie, and yes, every person on this planet is probably going to go see it, too. It was easily one of my most anticipated films of the year, especially since the comics this film is based on are so bloody good. The film has a lot to live up to, and so it is with great pleasure that I am able to say that Suicide Squad not only managed to live up to the hype, but it exceeded it. This is the film that will put DC back on the map.
Written and directed by David Ayer, Suicide Squad is, as he puts it, a tale of bad versus evil. Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) has spent years trying to put together a team of some very dangerous people, and at long last, she has them. The worst of the worst. To take down a very powerful threat, Waller assembles Task Force X, AKA the Suicide Squad. The team, led by Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), consists of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the girlfriend of the Joker (Jared Leto), Deadshot (Will Smith), a ruthless assassin, Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), a criminal from down under, El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a man who can shoot fire out of his hands, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a man treated as a monster, Slipknot (Adam Beach), a guy who's uh good with knots I guess, Katana (Karen Fukuhara), who's brought on to keep the team in check, and Enchantress (Cara Delevine), a young explorer who's possessed by a witch. They're bad guys, and they might just have to save the world.
This is without the doubt the most insane movie I have ever witnessed. David Ayer is a very talented director, his filmography including Fury and End of Watch, amongst others. Based on the stories I've heard from set, Ayer is a director who knows how to get the best out of these actors. He knows how to bring out their crazy, and that he does. This film is ridiculously bonkers, and a riot from start to finish. The first thirty minutes is pure madness, especially thanks to the editing style. It's edited in a way that brings you into the headspace of all these characters, and it's relentless. It's hard to describe, but once you see it, you'll understand just how off the charts the start of this movie is.
Ayer spends time setting these characters up, giving them depth and an emotional core, all while cutting between the post Batman V Superman world. It's a film that deals with the consequences of that movie, and it's done so with a fantastic line up of characters, all of whom get their moment to shine. The actors are all the perfect choices for the roles, and I just have to say that each of their introductions perfectly encapsulates who they are as characters, and even sets things up for the long run. There's a scene about two thirds of the way through this movie that put me on the brink of tears, and it's followed soon after by a scene that made me love and understand these characters even more.
While everybody in this movie feels real, developed and likeable (slightly less so the villain, but they're still great), there are a few standouts amongst the large and heavily talented cast. Will Smith as Deadshot is unbelievably good, and it's his character that really holds this team together at times, along with the help of Rick Flagg. I really liked the dynamic between these two, almost as much as I liked the dynamic between him and Harley Quinn, another standout character. Margot Robbie looks, acts and feels like the character we know and love, and she does a fantastic job at bringing her to life. Other standouts include Viola Davis, who kicks all sorts of ass, and Jai Courtney, who I've always considered an underrated actor. Also, can we please appreciate how good Ike Barinholtz was in this movie. He played a much more important role than I thought he would and he absolutely killed it.
Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker in 2008's The Dark Knight is famous, and many agree that it's the best on-screen take on the character so far. Jared Leto had big shoes to fill, and despite some strange tattoos that I still don't know how I feel about, he does a pretty damn good job. He only plays a small role, but he's a guy I wouldn't want to mess with. He's a sadistic, violent criminal, who, at the same time, is strangely likeable and sympathetic. This take on The Joker pins him as both a mobster, lunatic and a guy desperate to do anything for the woman he loves, and while he's not always like that in the comics (his relationship with Harley is much more violent in the comics), it's certainly an interesting take on the character. There are times where I was rooting for him, and I never thought that would happen, but I'm not complaining. He is a fascinating character.
This may be a very character driven story, but it's so much more than that, too. It's an action packed installment into the DC Extended Universe, introducing several new characters, but staying faithful to the universe and the lore. It feels like a two hour comic book being played out on screen, and that's one of the biggest compliments I can give this film. The dialogue, the story and the action all feel as though they're the pages of comics coming to life. While the plot takes a little while to set up as there's so many characters to introduce, once it gets going, it's an explosive look at the antics of super villains, and it's a combination of everything I love about comic books.
When the film went into reshoots earlier this year, there were a lot of rumours going around that this was to add more humour into the movie, making it a more fun and accessible film for all different types of people. The rumours were denied, claiming it was to add in more action, and while I can't say for sure, after watching the film, these rumours certainly appear the be false. There's plenty of humour, sure, but it all comes naturally from the characters, much like it does in the source material, and it never feels forced. Everything flows smoothly, and this film isn't afraid to get dark and gritty when it needs to.
At its core, Suicide Squad is without a doubt a comic book movie, but it's so much more than just that. It's a film with layers and depth, spanning over multiple genres. It's a combination of a war film, a gangster film and a superhero film, all while giving insight into the mentality of a villain, and what makes them do the things they do. They're not bad guys, they're just people trying to make a living in the world, and it shows them in a sympathetic light. A lot of their backstories are tragic and even heartbreaking, and it gives it an emotional core that makes it stand out amongst the many, many superhero movies we're given each year. It makes this film something special, and I can safely say I had a smile on my face that didn't disappear until well after the credits (and awesome mid-credit scene) had come to an end.
To sum up, Suicide Squad is a ridiculously insane, action packed, extraordinarily edited and directed character driven look into the mindset of villains, and it does so by telling a fresh and fun story with some brilliant characters who I'd be happy to see further developed in ten more movies. Also, there's a killer soundtrack.