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David Poland

By David Poland

Review: Suicide Squad (almost no spoilers)

I don’t need to offer up spoilers to write about this movie. However, if you want to stay truly pristine, don’t read this. Broad strokes that you probably already know about… but broad strokes.


Too much. Way way too much.

And too little.

This is what is so brutally wrong with Suicide Squad.

This movie started pushing me away from almost the very beginning. Each character is going to be introduced with a 3 – 5 minute set-up along with a pop hit appropriate to each story. Wait. No. Only 3 are… and one of those only in a half-ass way.

The first great challenge when you turn on the word processor to write a movie about 5 or more characters coming together in a group is how you establish character for all these people, on top of developing a shared goal for the group, the second act “it’s all over” head-fake, then the rousing third act comeback where they finally are a team and as a group can overpower the thing that is too big for any one of them to overcome themselves.

I’m not mocking the cliché. I am fine with this cliché. Seriously. It’s a foundation and you can find true genius depending on how it is executed.

Suicide Squad starts to fall apart from the minute the filmmakers try to push together in-depth set up for the two biggest stars in the film and then half-ass it for everyone else. The movie is on wobbly tires because the structure of the movie isn’t established to accommodate two big stars and then a supporting group. Of course, there will be a lean toward Will Smith and Margot Robbie. That’s how movies work. But in a good movie, you don’t feel it in such a pronounced way.

So… by the time the group is assembled and about to be dispatched  on their mission, there is no balance.  And then they add another squad member. And another… like the 40 minutes you just spent on the set-up is followed by, “OH YEAH… we forgot!”

You can take your time setting up this stuff. Quentin Tarantino has made a career of it. But you either need some true genius breaking structure in a way that makes an uneven landing wonderful and surprising or, as in this case, it just looks like you don’t know what you’re doing or the finished product was edited to avoid terrible mistakes. Make a choice.

The second HUGE problem with the movie is the choice of villain. And no, it’s not The Joker, so if you don’t want to know more, check out now…

Superheroes fighting the supernatural simply doesn’t work. The supernatural has too much power. The tool that Suicide Squad uses to “control” the supernatural is weak. WEAK. But that isn’t the worst part. The execution of the supernatural is hideous… straight out of Ghostbusters II… that was a looooong time ago, folks. And the whiole idea of what the group needs to fight against and how they might do it is just a giant, horrible mess.

I’m not going to get into details, but how does it work when guns are ineffective, but an explosion is effective. Why? Where is the logic?

And there is this… and she is probably a lovely person… but Cara Delevingne cannot act… never has been able to act… and unless something very dramatic changes (like people stop hiring her to screw up their films), she will never learn to act.

Others in this film, like Joel Kinnaman and Jai Courtney, can probably act quite well… but not here. In a big blur of a cast, you need to hire people who light up the screen when they are doing nothing. Neither of these guys has that. And neither has an interesting enough character to make you care. So: dead weight.

Will Smith and Margot Robbie and Viola Davis and Jared Leto deliver. Eventually, Jay Hernandez gets to turn it up and he gives us great moments. But a complete waste of a very compelling actor in Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Cool croc skin, but it kept him from giving a performance, which he is very capable of doing. Karen Fukuhara is fine… but a minor character, even if her physicality actually dominates at times.

I have no problem with the added Justice League footage. It’s fine.


I don’t buy that it is too dark. The action, while not exceptional, is fine. The whole “lightweight Marvel” is a crock of crap. This movie is nothing like Guardians or, really, any of the Marvel films. Chris Nolan’s Batman films is the natural progenitor (which gave WB hope, I guess). I think that “the industry is making too many comic book movies” is a bullshit claim and/or excuse. The rest of those movies didn’t make this film not work. And I don’t think that management ruined the movie… except for greenlighting it with this idiotic villain story and without demanding something great in terms of allowing the audience to care about everyone of the squad.

I wish there was more to say. There really isn’t. The details are not the problem.

I will leave you with this… there is a character with a name who dies fairly early in the film. And the audience could not care less. And that tells you everything wrong with this movie.

I love David Ayer’s work and hope that he will find his way to another great tough-guy story with fewer effects and fewer moving parts. The guy who did Fury knows how to have a bunch of characters and give everyone their moment. But he didn’t eat the giant movie… the giant movie ate him. Happens.

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66 Responses to “Review: Suicide Squad (almost no spoilers)”

  1. EtGuild2 says:

    It’s interesting. David Ayer clearly LOVES team-up movies. But it’s when he steps outside of intimate character groups that he always stumbles. In SABOTAGE and STREET KINGS he takes big ensembles, and wastes them by throwing everything at the screen that he can. Twists, ultra violence, quadruple-crosses, insidiousness everywhere…it’s too much.

    FURY, END OF WATCH and TRAINING DAY (which he wrote) work because you care about the characters, and they’re given room to breathe (even if, in FURY, two of them are written as cliches, the actors wring good performances from what they’re given). FURY proves he can do large-scale settings…but the scene that anchors you and makes you care is the one with Brad Pitt and Lerman interacting with the familiy in the hideaway. The aura of safety undercut by a sense of dread is stunning, and it works so well because he lingers.

    It’s fitting that you mention QT, because Ayer and he have similar problems. QT can extract himself from his indulgences thanks to his next-level writing ability, meticulous set-ups as you say, and knack for pulling off gangbusters finales. Ayer gets himself stuck.

  2. Stella's Boy says:

    Ayer is an intriguing filmmaker. He’s an uber-bro in a bro-dominated industry. He’s clearly not without talent. I think End of Watch is a pretty exceptional film, and Fury is a pretty good war flick. But is he even remotely interested in women? They are afterthoughts at best in his work. And I love how he creates one female character in Sabotage and makes her the most filthy and profane person in it. Not really proving his critics wrong with that move. And now it sure doesn’t appear that he was the right choice for this material. I’m seeing it tomorrow night. Going to significantly lower my already fairly low expectations.

  3. Nick says:

    There’s a character with a name???? What? I don’t believe it.

  4. Stella's Boy says:

    The making of the movie sounds more interesting than what was made. If all this is true and not designed to generate media hype, Jared Leto is a disgusting creep and Ayer enabled him.

  5. EtGuild2 says:

    I loved Viola Davis’ reactions to him at Comic-Con. Maybe this is why Leto doesn’t work much, not just his bizarre dedication to 30 Seconds of Mars. I mean…he’s not exactly Daniel-Day Lewis. He was apparently really difficult playing John Lennon’s killer in the awful CHAPTER 27, but it was overshadowed by Linsanity Lohan.

  6. djiggs says:

    David Poland’s tweet at 07/11/15, 2:52pm:

    “I believe in Suicide Squad because @DavidAyerMovies is a great filmmaker. I fear BvS because Zack Snyder is not. Simple.”

    David Poland’s tweet at 07/11/15, 3:01pm:

    “@m_dinn @DavidAyerMovies His scripts are inconsistent, but I’ve never seen an actor fail to be their best in any of his films.”

    How can the always right/never wrong Yoda guru of all things Hollywood and infinity and beyond get this wrong? My world has no meaning.

  7. YancySkancy says:

    djiggs: What in those tweets is “wrong” exactly? Looks like they both contain Dave’s opinion. Ayer can be a “great filmmaker” and still work with “inconsistent” scripts. And I don’t see any problem with “believing” in an unreleased film in July only to be disappointed with it in August.

  8. djiggs says:

    YancySkancy: I feel that the word “great” is excessively overused and undeserved in most instances. If he had used challenging/provocative/interesting, I would have no beef with the 1st tweet. When I talk about greatness in filmmaking, I feel a filmmaker should have at least 2 to 3 great films under their belt or an unqualified masterpiece. The closet that I have seen with Ayer is “End of Watch”.

    In regards to the inconsistent screenplays, Ayer writes all his screen players, so his writing is part of his filmmaking talent. A great filmmaker, if not rewriting a mediocre screenplay, at least is able to emphasize the story’s strengths and minimize the weaknesses.

    In any case, David’s current review exposes that those 2 tweets were more hope than evidence or work based.

  9. djiggs says:

    The initial reply also was a sarcastic tweak at David’sperceived Mr. Know-It-All attitude (“the Rabbi” was the nickname that a past article about Oscar bloggers gave him). Yes, I actually do enjoy reading and watching his work for almost 20 years from TNT Hot Button days and when he was plugging “The Matrix” for Best Picture nod and Harry Lennix as Best Supporting Actor in Titus in 2000 on Ebert’s show.

  10. Hallick says:

    “I’m not mocking the cliché. I am fine with this cliché. Seriously. It’s a foundation and you can find true genius depending on how it is executed.”

    Nope. Nope. That cliche is a 100% empty at this point. I want to find the true genius that drop kicks it 80,000 miles away from the set. It’s so bad at this point that I don’t even want to see the cliche deconstructed or mocked, I just want it to disappear from filmmaking for at least 20 years.

  11. YancySkancy says:

    Fair enough, djiggs. But I have to say, I feel the word “wrong” is also excessively overused and undeserved when expressing an opinion about an opinion.

    Harry Lennix was awesome in Titus.

  12. Pete B. says:

    It’ll be interesting if we ever get to see Ayer’s original version vs. what was released. While I found the movie to be fun, you can tell it was tinkered with all over.

    And Dave, why so hard on poor Cara Delevingne? It’s not like her performance ruined the whole film ala Sofia Coppola in The Godfather 3.

  13. Stella's Boy says:

    Oh man is this is a terrible, awful, dumb, boring movie. What an epic train wreck. Delevinge is absolutely awful, but it’s also not entirely her fault. She has nothing to work with. A stupid character and worthless villain. But she appears out of her depth and is just bad. So is Leto. He is so hammy and awful and it just reminds you how great Ledger is. Thankfully he’s hardly in it. The whole movie is cut so awkwardly. Like one second Kinnaman is in the subway and the next he’s outside as the squad is set to be unleashed. Or a scene cuts before it seems to be complete. There are so many moments like that. It isn’t remotely funny and Ayer’s script is garbage. Every one-liner falls flat, especially Harley Quinn’s. They’re sitcom jokes. I like Ike Barinholtz, and Smith and Davis aren’t bad, but the whole movie is a dull mess. Why is Adam Beach even in it? Captain Boomerang could also be dropped and nothing would be lost. When I finally thought it was almost over, they stop at a bar and Smith re-explains the entire story, like he’s talking to someone who just walked into the theater. The conclusion is unintentionally funny as The Witch and her brother are unbelievably lame villains. My toddler’s screaming tantrums are more enjoyable than this movie. So, so bad.

  14. EtGuild2 says:

    On the bright side for SS, Barry Sonnenfeld’s rotting corpse delivered NINE LIVES this weekend, which is the worst piece of family-targeted garbage since DELGO, or perhaps GARFIELD 2. It is so bad, it’s one of those movies where you wonder if Luc Besson and execs at EuropaCorp hacked everyone’s phones to extract nudie pics as ransom for their participation.

    This summer can’t end fast enough, though to be fair, perhaps the three best wide releases of the season all drop next weekend.

  15. Stella's Boy says:

    Ha yeah I did a double take when I saw that Sonnenfeld directed Nine Lives. I feel grateful that I know so little about it. Haven’t seen a trailer or TV spot. I agree that the summer’s end is welcome. I do hope Don’t Breathe is good. I have long stopped trusting the buzz on horror flicks, but it looks intriguing.

  16. David Poland says:

    djiggs… I have never been shy about admitting when I have been wrong.

    People who think that I think I know everything and am never wrong are showing their own insecurities. I don’t know why my opinions seem to pierce some people so intensely… but most of those people seem to be in the exact same business of offering their opinions… so… kinda pathetic, if you ask me.

  17. Ben Kabak says:

    This is a huge turd. A sog with fleas.

  18. JS Partisan says:

    I keep reading about it being terrible, but I ask all of you this one question! Is it as bad, as a large yellow poop cloud, devouring the people of New Orleans?

  19. JS Partisan says:

    Also, Geoff Johns, really needs to make sure, that WB’s chief exec stops fucking with these movies. Ayer, fell on his sword today, because his weird ass wants to keep working, but this film is an obvious hodge podge. Seriously, they need to sort this shit out, because the rea DCCU starts with Wonder Woman, because it’s the first one Geoff is actively working on. Here’s hoping, that WV stops fucking with him, and DC for the foreseeable future.

    One more thing: FUCK THIS MOVIE, FOR FUCKING UP ARROW, FOR THE LAST THREE GOD DAMN YEARS! Here’s to Geoff, letting the CW shows do whatever the fuck they fucking want.

  20. Triple Option says:

    I’ve given David some ribbing over his reviews of Superhero movies in the past but I have to say this was pretty accurate to the note.

    It made me wonder is this what they hire Ayers for? I actually thought Training Day was OK but not great but did see End of Watch and some of those sequences were really intense. Upon watching the trailer, I thought, unless they’re really hiding what this movie really is, it looks more like a 80s era family friendly comic book movie and that doesn’t seem like much for Ayers. Unless he’s better all around than I’d imagine. Nope. I mean, I guess you want that 4 quad film and not risk an R rating but my fears were confirmed.

    I wonder if it wasn’t so much his directing as it was his writing. The weighting of characters overall I thought was handled OK. The whole thing about the character that dies early on I saw what was happening immediately. You might as well put the guy in a red shirt or have him whip out a picture of his girl back on the farm that he’s going to ask to marry as soon as he gets back.

    Besides the aforementioned, my big problem was lack of creative uses for main characters’ skillz. They didn’t really show themselves to have super power or that elite Rangers couldn’t have pulled everything off. I get it’s pg or pg-13 but there wasn’t any point where I thought about Harley Quinn “wow, that chick is psycho!” or that Deadshot pull off anything to make me believe Oswald acted alone.

    I saw it in 2D. When I got out I forgot that it was being shown in 3D. Anyone see it 3D? Didn’t look like there were any shots or sets to make the 3D worthwhile. Am I missing anything?

  21. Amblinman says:

    “I keep reading about it being terrible, but I ask all of you this one question! Is it as bad, as a large yellow poop cloud, devouring the people of New Orleans?”

    Vs a large brown poop cloud devouring the people of Midwest Gotham or whatever? Yes. It’s as bad.

    @Triple, spot on. The display of powers was pedestrian. Snyder and Ayer seem to have zero interest in the fact that they’re making movies about people who are supposed to have extraordinary abilities.

  22. Anthony says:

    “Didn’t look like there were any shots or sets to make the 3D worthwhile. Am I missing anything?”

    AKA How I feel about the 3D in almost every movie.

  23. Stella's Boy says:

    I saw it in 3D and actually forgot about that halfway through. I don’t remember a single sequence that made the 3D worthwhile. I’d say FF and Poop Cloud are better, easily.

  24. Pete B. says:

    Okay, my mind is Swiss cheese as I’m not getting the “poop cloud” reference, but if you’re talking Green Lantern – Suicide Squad is far more entertaining than that bomb or the latest Fantastic Four.

  25. Stella's Boy says:

    Agree to disagree Pete. I’d watch the latest FF again before I’d sit through SS again. Same with Green Lantern. Neither is a good movie, but I found them easier to stomach overall than SS. Other than Ike Barinholtz, I was not at all entertained by SS.

  26. Geoff says:

    Some folks apparently need to remove the Mouse Ear-shaped sticks from their asses – this movie was fun and achieved EXACTLY what it set out to do!

    Yes it’s a bit overstuffed but Smith, Robbie, Davis, Kinneman, even Jai Courtney come to play and create an actually more interesting and entertaining set of characters than Guardians of the Galaxy. Not sure it needed the Joker except for some context for Harley Quinn but Leto never wore out his welcome in the role.

    And if nothing else like the Ghostbusters reboot, the film is pretty damn harmless and I do NOT get why it’s getting the kind of angry vitriol that BVS did. Hold up the plot, editing, and execution against supposed second-tier MCU films like Ant-Man, Age of Ultron, and Thor 2…..I’m not seeing where those 50% gaps on RT scores are coming from EXCEPT for obvious bias.

  27. Pete B. says:

    Stella, the first half of FF isn’t that bad – other than they still can’t get Doctor Doom right. The 2nd half is utter garbage.

  28. EtGuild2 says:

    Film critics have no goofy comic-book bias Geoff. They don’t care about that garbage. Or watching garbage for that matter.

  29. Geoff says:

    The whole INDUSTRY – reporters and critics – has a pretty obvious bias towards Disney properties now. You see it just browsing though the reviews online – every other review I have read spends as much time elevating Marvel and shitting on DC as it does reviewing the movie.

  30. EtGuild2 says:

    The polls are skewed, the unemployment rate is 43% and Stanley Kubrick directed 9/11. Cmon, “critics are part of a biased conspiracy to trash DC Comics film and buck up Disney” (through their glowing reviews of Alice in Wonderland 2, Good Dino and Finest Hours?) doesn’t even make my top 3 snorts of the week. 🙂

    Comparisons are used when they seem to make sense. Divergent gets compared to THG, Twilight to Potter and THG, shitty DWA movies to superior Pixar, stuck-in-a-rut Pixar to superior Ghibli, Summit to Lionsgate before they merged, flailing Relativity to FilmDistrict, yada yada. It’s usually the sign of laziness, a hack, or a minutiae-obsessed nerd not a moustache-twirling villain.

    I do like the thought of Manohla Dargis distracted from her shopping list at Zabar’s, gleefully rubbing her hands together and cackling as she thinks of zingers she can use to diminish the DCCU though.

  31. Stella's Boy says:

    I have not seen BvS nor do I like Marvel movies Geoff. Sorry to disappoint. Not a huge fan of comic book movies in general. SS just doesn’t work for me. I didn’t like the performances nearly as much as you, and the story is dull. The writing in general is awful. Villains are dreadful. I don’t see what its defenders see, at all, but hey different strokes and all that. These flicks just aren’t for me.

  32. JS Partisan says:

    Geoff, I will state, that a lot of reviewers want to see a Marvel movie, instead of what DC is giving. It does seem like a movie thread through some reviews, that I’ve read. It is very weird to me, that Suicide Squad got the POSTMORTEM, a fucking week before it opened. It’s just odd, that before the movie is realize, that we are discussing all the shit in the background. It’s just fucking weird.

  33. Geoff says:

    Nice straw man response, EtGuild – I didn’t say it was a “conspiracy” or that Marvel/Disney is paying off any of these critics while they twirl their mustaches to take down Warner Bros….I said there was a clear “bias” pervading the industry reporters and critics for the most part in favor of Disney-owned properties at the expense of every one else. It’s why Ghostbusters gets routinely dismissed as a “rehash” months before its release by several entertainment web sites and reporters while Star Wars: The Force Awakens gets showered with universal praise from those same people right after they had the privilege to attend the premiere and “hang out with Harrison Ford!”

    Seriously bias exists in the reporting of EVERY industry including politics, sports, and finance – huge pockets of integrated media choose favorites and/or losers all of the time, from Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders to Tesla to Apple to Tim Tebow to Tom Bradey…..and those biases can last six hours, six days, or six months….they often shift too. (Before you throw examples of how much praise the Nolan Batman films received as a counter-example….that was four years ago, different time and yes there was bias in Nolan’s favor at the time) At any given time, there will often be a bandwagon of support towards one particular team or group at the expense of others – bottom line, how is the entertainment industry immune to that then??

  34. Geoff says:

    Thank you JSPartisan – this is not tin foil hat-conspiracy theory, it’s basic observation.

    Spotting a pro-Disney bias within entertainment media (those who report and critique) over the past couple of years is about as a easy as spotting a pro-Trump bias on the Drudge Report.

    Just glean Rotten Tomatoes for reviews of Suicide Squad – NOT blaming the web site which is just an aggregate of opinion, though some DC fanboys don’t seem to understand that – and you’ll see it clear as day.

    Here’s a pull quote near the top when I went to Rotten Tomatoes just now from the New York Post: “The question isn’t whether ‘Suicide Squad’ is as good as ‘The Avengers,’ but whether it’s as bad as ‘Green Lantern.”

    Now…when you’re trying to make a point in comparing two different entities by pointing out the BEST from one side (Avengers) vs. the WORST from the other side (Green Lantern) and you have to rewind back five years (which is a lifetime in Hollywood) to make that point…….THAT is the DEFINITION of BIAS. 😉

  35. JS Partisan says:

    It’s not even bias, as much as it’s just wanting the SAME GOD DAMN THING FROM DC! I love fucking BvS, because of what it is, and what Snyder is trying to do. Sure. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for me. Who, you know, just happens to dig the shit out of fucking Marvel movies. DCEU is doing what it’s doing, but they seemingly are getting slammed for being different. Which is just… weird. The Marvel model, doesn’t work for every fucking comic book movie, but these fucking critics are acting, as if that’s the only way to do this shit.

  36. Geoff says:

    JS I would have presumed that from the BVS reviews with virtually EVERY negative review basically saying “Why can’t you be more like Marvel???” by the end of it…..but so many of the reviews this time around have now put out the message, “Why are they trying to be so much like Marvel??”

    I mean if I have to hear ONE more reference to how Suicide Squad is ripping off music cues from Guardians of the Galaxy, then I’m going to just play all of these ass-clowns the original trailer for Reservoir Dogs….from 1992. 🙂 James Gunn did not INVENT the ironic pop music cue.

  37. EtGuild2 says:

    I don’t think we read the same reviews. Anthony Lane and the guy who writes are a bit different. There are film critics and then there are angry geeks, like those at Collider or Screen Rant, or 75% internet denizens who base their lives and livelihoods around these movies, many of whom hated IRON MAN 3 because it didn’t jive with the holy grail of canon. (I thought the NY Post was a toilet paper company–didn’t know they wrote stuff! :p)

    I always hear from biased folks….Everything is biased! And it’s true to an extent, I agree. But for VG nerds, Warcraft was a pinnacle of the fantasy genre, while 60 year old white people who have dedicated their lives to cinema could care less about this. Yup, Joe Morgenstein or Lou Loummenick might make lazy references because they are hacks. But the whole phenomenon, if there is a bias, is beneath film critics. When your movie looks like it was edited by Kevin Spacey’s cat character from NINE LIVES, it’s going to turn into a pile-on, because industry types are simply fed up with seeing 6 of these movies a year. On the reverse, if they do something different, they will get showered with praise. Consequence of Sound, AV Club, Indie Wire, and the major paper critics don’t toss and turn at night thinking how to incorporate pro-Disney talking points into their reviews.

  38. Pete B. says:

    How many folks who post here work in the film industry? Just curious, and not trying to being sarcastic, but if its not required by your job – why see a whole genre of films that you despise?

    I mostly see the big blockbusters when I go to the theater, as that’s my favorite type to view on the big screen. I wouldn’t waste my money on family drama films as that’s not my cup of tea.

    As for Suicide Squad, I work in the social services and deal with the mentally ill on a daily basis. I see traits of both Harley and the Joker in some of the people I deal with, so I thought their performances rang true. I guess it is all in your perspective.

  39. Stella's Boy says:

    I saw SS because friends asked me to go and I hardly ever turn down seeing a movie when asked. And I like the cast and the trailer. And this summer I have been seeing as many movies as possible in theaters. It’s a goal I set for myself earlier in the year. So that’s why I saw it.

  40. Stella's Boy says:

    When someone alleges bias against DC, my initial reaction is to say that’s ridiculous. What’s the motive? Why would critics give Marvel preferential treatment? But (and take this with a grain of salt because I have not seen all Marvel or DC movies) when I think about SS and the Marvel movies I have seen, I realize that I have similar problems with both: too many characters, generic action scenes, uninspired villains, mediocre (or worse) writing. I really don’t think SS is that much worse than the Marvel movies I’ve seen. But my friends (and obviously many others) feel very differently.

  41. Hcat says:

    I have to say I snarl whenever anyone describes this as ‘edgy,’ I am certain even without having seen it that it fails to contain as much grit or sand as its inspiration despite the fact that the original was released about 50 years ago during the Hays Code era by the home studio of Arthur Freed and Andy Hardy.

  42. EtGuild2 says:

    My problems with the last two DC movies are entirely different Stella. Terrible lighting and nonsensical editing/plot devices (Martha! Is Louis Lane on drugs? A CIA agent indiscriminately slaughtering people at their desks to show she’s badass, no explanation of a human crocodile, the whole concept of the Enchantress, etc). I’m not a fan of the last 3 MCU movies, but I don’t leave the theater squinting and scowling.

  43. Geoff says:

    I appreciate the thoughtful responses guys but I still have to maintain that for any reporter or critic to demonstrate “bias” doesn’t require much in the way of thinking or planning….it just becomes second nature and it is human nature for those reporting on ANY industry to jump on or off a bandwagon. No I don’t think the guys at IndieWire or What The Flick are knowingly in the tank for Disney but like even the most ardent sports fans who will NEVER root for the Patriots or the most avid technophiles who NEVER support Apple and its products, it still becomes much easier to give films a pass if they come from Disney and Marvel which the mainstream media is constantly telling them that “everybody” loves. Like JS noted above, there were tons of post-mordems written about Suicide Squad and BVS BEFORE they even came out…. that’s gonna steer opinions no matter how much marketing you throw up against it.

  44. Hcat says:

    I don’t know about bias, but there can be a case made that the knives are out not because of an appreciation of Disney but for the me too attitude of the other companies creating universise out of their IP.. I expect the universal monsters transformers plus will get the same treatment.

  45. amblinman says:

    The best argument the film could have made would be to have been a good movie. I can appreciate that you enjoyed it, you don’t think it’s as bad as reviews suggest. I’m not in that camp. Thought it was a terrible film for a number of reasons. Not the least of which it was also boring. There have thus far only been 3 DCEU movies, so I don’t think it’s a good sample size to suggest there’s some bias. I liked MoS but I think the middling reviews are fair. Upon second viewing, I liked B v S a little better. Movie still suffers from being too long without any major set pieces until the last 40 minutes or so. I don’t think there’s bias, it’s just that Marvel has a playbook that they stick to: their movies are usually okay/good because they don’t take risks with the material, they produce blown up TV episodes. It’s not as potentially exciting as using guys like Snyder and Ayer but it gets them where they want to go. I think that’s why DC movies thus far haven’t been great: when you have strong directors with a singular style, they take risks. Risks come with a price. Sometimes they work like gangbusters i.e. Nolan’s Dark Knight.

  46. EtGuild2 says:

    That’s fair Geoff. And that’s certainly unfair…it wasn’t like FF, where the director was lighting his work on fire pre-release. And to add on to Amblin, I think there’s a general frustration with DC as well: non-comic people inherently like Batman and Superman know are the pinnacle of comics. So maybe the fact the movies aren’t the second-coming of TDK trilogy pisses people off. Plus, Snyder has been a lightning-rod for controversy for a decade now, to say nothing of Affleck’s movie star career. Marvel sometimes makes risky directorial/casting moves, at least on the surface, but steers clear of controversial figures.

    @Hcat, possible, that’s why 23 MIB interests me so much.

  47. Stella's Boy says:

    Those are definitely problems in SS Ethan. No argument here. But by the time a comic book movie ends, DC or Marvel, I almost always feel the same way: underwhelmed and exhausted.

  48. Geoff says:

    It’s probably a whole other discussion about how many recent MCU films have had their share of problems including chopped off scenes, forced humor, excessive fan service, and shoe-horned scenes and/or characters to plug future releases but beyond that…

    How impressive: the OTHER major trade publication (since Hollywood Reporter beat them to the punch with its own take-down piece of the movie three days earlier and BEFORE the film was domestically released) picked up the pace and released their own think-piece about how “DC is in trouble” before the opening weekend even concluded.

    Just last year, Disney had similar first Saturday drop-offs for ‘Age of Ultron and even The Force Awakens, yet I don’t remember the same type of coverage occurring at that time.

    Still wanna say there’s no bias? 🙂

    Seriously if I was the Warner Bros. marketing department next spring, I might be tempted to just say “Fuck these folks, there’s no point rolling out the red carpet for them – let’s just have zero critics screenings and an embargo lifting on Friday afternoon for Wonder Woman…..they’re going nitpick the hell out of it no matter what we put out!”

    And of course Warners won’t do that because the critics will just respond even MORE negatively…..but maybe they won’t waste their time or resources kissing Devin Faraci’s ass anymore.

  49. Stella's Boy says:

    No doubt those are all legit problems Geoff. And just this morning I saw pieces like “Why Suicide Squad Isn’t Even a Movie” and “Why Suicide Squad is the Donald Trump of Superhero Movies.” A bit much perhaps?

    So does this mean Warner Bros. will be flying a bunch of online critics to the set of SS2 for some wining and dining and schmoozing? Is some of this Nolan’s fault, because people like The Dark Knight so much they compare every DC release to it? There’s no Marvel movie as beloved as TDK is there?

  50. EtGuild2 says:

    That does seem a bit much to say the least, though Saturday drops are bound to get less attention when the Friday is 30%-90% higher, because there simply that many people to go around. Remember ULTRON had the 2nd biggest opening day of all-time at the time, and dropped less than POTTER 8 or the shooting-skewed TDKR, so there wasn’t any terrible comparison to make (which is scary since this was only a year ago).

    My argument was regarding film critics (not hacks, non-review trade writers or Collider folks). It does seem like some are using those who legitimately disliked it as a film to advance their own agenda, though. Is this evidence of a “pro-Disney” bias? No. ALICE 2 was rightly savaged…BFG’s performance has gotten a bit of a pass because it’s Spielberg. It’s more on an individualized basis.

  51. Mike says:

    I haven’t noticed a bias. Haven’t we all seen plenty of pieces predicting the end of Disney/Marvel’s run? Remember before Guardians of the Galaxy came out and lots of people predicted that it would bomb and Marvel would have to change its formula? Same with Ant-Man? Same as they’re now saying with Dr. Strange?

    I would think that in order to show bias, you’d have to point to the Disney/Marvel movies that are just as bad as Suicide Squad, but got a pass. I thought Ant-Man was a lot of fun, and I’ve been turned off superhero movies for a while now. Guardians of the Galaxy was beloved (though I don’t know why). I guess you could make the case for Age of Ultron. It seemed like that got creamed by lukewarm or worse response, and you all are still having a debate about whether that was the beginning of the end for Marvel/Disney.

    My theory is that Disney/Marvel movies, at worst, are bright and breezy and fun, which sits a lot better than dark and brooding. That’s not studio bias – that’s taste.

  52. Warren says:

    You can’t argue with a conspiracy theorist–evidence and arguments don’t matter.

  53. Geoff says:

    Warren, it’s not a “conspiracy” when the Drudge Report makes their daily headline images of Hillary Clinton falling down stairs…’s just bias, there’s a difference.

    “I would think that in order to show bias, you’d have to point to the Disney/Marvel movies that are just as bad as Suicide Squad, but got a pass.”

    Ok I’ll bite:

    Thor: The Dark World
    The Incredible Hulk
    Iron Man II

    Probably the BOTTOM three as even agreed upon by the most ardent Marvel fans though I have issues with several others. (I really enjoyed Thor 2 and find ‘Civil War to be mediocre) ALL of them had RT scores between 66% and 72% – try watching any or all of them back-to-back with Suicide Squad and try to quantify that that extra 40%, good luck. 😉

  54. Geoff says:

    “My argument was regarding film critics (not hacks, non-review trade writers or Collider folks).”

    If only Etguild – that’s a BIG part of the problem, that the lines have genuinely blurred….

    Hey I love the Schmoes Know guys, watch them all of the time….but they also LOVED having the chance to meet Kevin Feige at the Marvel Phase 3 event in LA two years ago, attending Star Wars Celebration and hanging on EVERY word fed to them by Dave Filoni about “the latest Star Wars canon,” and having extended interviews and fun segments with the Russo Brothers a week before ‘Civil War came out.

    And yup, they are certified by Rotten Tomatoes as official film critics, right alongside Manohla Dargis and Owen Gleiberman. This goes WAY beyond Roger Ebert occasionally having drinks with Martin Scorsese back in the day…..I can never remember him reviewing Cape Fear armed with talking points fed to him a few weeks prior by Scorsese’s production company.

  55. Mike says:

    Interestingly, Thor 2 and Iron Man 2 were 40% higher on rotten tomatoes, but only about 10-15% higher on metacritic, pointing more toward the problem with rotten tomatoes as an aggregator. Clearly Thor 2 and Iron Man 2 were only a little better than Suicide Squad in the minds of those critics. If you want to attribute that to bias, okay, but I’d suggest it could have been the more “fun” aspects of the Marvel movies vs. the dourness of Suicide Squad.

  56. EtGuild2 says:

    Geoff, this just goes back to my 10 year long argument that you could get your pet hamster certified as a Rotten Tomatoes crtic. Half the MCU movies have mixed or lukewarm (below 65) ratings on Metacritic. Only 3 have gotten above a 70. Not rocket science.

    Also, never trust anyone with “Schmoe” in their official descriptor.

  57. Geoff says:

    The “Schmoes” can be fanboys as much as anybody…but they also champion films like Ex Machina from time to time, they seem to have a genuine love of movies.

    And I don’t know any one who found Suicide Squad particularly “dour” – for better or worse, it’s pretty much exactly the film presented within the trailers.

  58. Geoff says:

    “Interestingly, Thor 2 and Iron Man 2 were 40% higher on rotten tomatoes, but only about 10-15% higher on metacritic, pointing more toward the problem with rotten tomatoes as an aggregator.”

    That’s fair but Rotten Tomatoes is now used routinely as a marketing tool by studios and has pretty much become a quick-glance guide like Yelp but for movies – not likely to change anytime soon.

  59. Sideshow Bill says:

    Man, I know I saw Thor 2 in the theater but I don’t remember one damn thing about it. Never rewatched. And I’m an MCU fan.

  60. Mike says:

    “That’s fair but Rotten Tomatoes is now used routinely as a marketing tool by studios and has pretty much become a quick-glance guide like Yelp but for movies – not likely to change anytime soon.”

    True, but I was more suggesting that I think the reason so many more Marvel movies get fresh ratings as opposed to the DC ones are not because critics are biased toward the Marvel ones, but because the Marvel ones are just enough better to push them to slightly fresh as opposed to slightly rotten. And rotten tomatoes counts a slightly fresh movie the same way it counts a movie that the critic loves. So, as lots of people are saying, if DC wants better ratings on rotten tomatoes, it’s on them to make better films, even if just enough to push them to slightly fresh.

  61. Geoff says:

    “So, as lots of people are saying, if DC wants better ratings on rotten tomatoes, it’s on them to make better films, even if just enough to push them to slightly fresh.” Not sure how you can plan for that kind of metric….but ok. “Hey it’s been more than 12 minutes since the last quip…..come on guys, we’re going for that Marvel score here! Let’s give Aquaman a funny line.”

  62. Mike says:

    I don’t know, maybe better scripts?

  63. Mike says:

    And I don’t mean that in the snide way it sounds. How long did Marvel work on the Ant-Man script? There were also stories of Guardians of the Galaxy script revisions for quite a while.

    DC has rushed their universe into production quickly to play catchup. Is it surprising that the scripting process would be too rushed?

  64. Geoff says:

    Mike, Ant-Man had a brand new director take the reins and its script re-written less than a year before it was to be released – I enjoyed the film but it doesn’t really take a discerning eye to see the scenes that were probably crafted by Edgar Wright and the stuff that was shoe-horned in.

  65. Geoff says:

    “I don’t know, maybe better scripts?”

    You mean like when they started Iron Man AND Iron Man 2 without finished scripts in place…..when Thor 2 had its story re-worked less than six months before release to make it more Loki-centered……the first Captain America that basically had its third act chopped short to make it a trailer for The Avengers….or the script/story revisions that were taking place less than a year before ‘Civil War came out to insert a new Spider-man into the story?

    Literally at least HALF of the MCU films were rushed to make release dates announced well in advance….’Guardians was probably the biggest exception as Disney just treated it as a likely loss-leader that they would just promote the shit out for six months leading up to release, seems they pretty much let Gunn do whatever he wanted.

  66. Mike says:

    Fair enough, but those are also the weakest of the Marvel/Disney movies. They also have an established brand, making it easier to replicate, to get likable enough movies. Suicide Squad was well in production when they realized audiences didn’t like the direction of Batman v. Superman. They didn’t have any other established brand to fall back on and from all reports butchered the editing to try and come up with something that would work.

    Again, I contend that the small differences in quality are what are pushing Marvel’s scores into the fresh category vs. the rotten category. If you think that it’s bias rather than quality, there’s nothing I can say that will change your mind and we can agree to disagree.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon