Suicide Squad, takin’ me back

I went to see Suicide Squad the other night. I was on the fence about going in the first place. DC has been a little lackluster in the film department. It’s not entirely their fault; Marvel beat them to it this time around. Anything they do is going to be compared to Marvel by default, and the bar was set relatively high, if only because everything they’d done hadn’t been done before (or at least not well).

Suicide Squad, based on the DC comic, is out now. Photo from Suicide Squad official website.

It wasn’t just that, though.

Suicide Squad is meant to be over the top. It’s about the *bad* guys being the kind-of-good guys. They save the day, but they do it with chips on their shoulders and a little bit of dark attitude and crazy. Honor among thieves! Harley and Joker really love each other, like Bonnie and Clyde!

Sure, when I was 15, I was obsessed with Harley Quinn. She just got me. She was dark because the world is dark, and she loved Joker, who was also dark. She laughed in the face of it, too.

And I did all the things that one might expect of a 15 year old obsessed with a character that is written to be cool to a 15 year old. I wore a lot of black eyeliner. I talked about the darkness and the weirdness and the uniqueness of everything. I read the Bell Jar like 87 times. Sylvia Plath understood my pain. And so did Harley! She was kind of crazy but in a *fun* way.

I was all kinds of stereotype.

And then I grew out of it. I stopped romanticizing depression and mental illness in general because, you know, it’s not romantic.

Now things are weird between us: me and my interests, I mean.

I want to go to conventions, enjoy myself, indulge in some comic buying, what with the whole disposable income thing. I mean, why do I work if not to enjoy my various interests, right?

The problem is that so many of the things that I enjoyed, that were somewhat obscure, are starting to become mainstream. I was not prepared for that. And I most definitely was not prepared for having to see 15 year old girls prancing around in impossibly more suggestive outfits than what Harley Quinn used to wear. Because apparently skin tight black and red wasn’t objectifying enough – now she wears barely-there shorts and t-shirt that says “Daddy’s Lil Monster.”

I could go on for days about how offensive that is.

These girls have the eye liner and shorts that leave literally nothing to the imagination, corsets, and thigh-highs. They are laughing about all of the dark things in the world, and they are romanticizing mental illness.

I want to smack them into their 20’s, so they grow out of it.

And going to see Suicide Squad was a culmination of these things. It was the joy of seeing a childhood interest come to life, combined with the abject disgust of seeing versions of my younger self walking around.

The movie itself wasn’t memorable enough to overshadow all of this strange introspection.

It wasn’t bad. It really wasn’t. It just wasn’t worth the baggage for me.

All that said. Go see it. It IS a fun movie. (I’m allowed to contradict myself. Back off.) And it’s not the worst way to spend a couple hours.

Back in black (and white)

Hiatus much?

Life happens at a rate that I can barely match these days. We closed on the house on Monday, and I’m picking up the keys tomorrow night from the (now) former owner. To quote what I wrote in my boss’s baby shower card “shit just got real.”

But that’s not what I’ve logged into this beleaguered account to write about. I am here to review Iron Man 3, which I went to the opening showing of in Grandville tonight.

To write a review on a comic book movie requires that I step away from the comics for a moment because without doing so, I will be overly critical about things that most viewers wouldn’t give two seconds’ thought. Consider this me putting down the graphic novels, ok?

Let me start by saying that if you don’t like the previous Iron Man movies, then you need to politely decline offers to see the third installment, and not just for obvious reasons. This Iron Man has as many explosion as the previous two, coupled with impossibly more Tony Stark one-liners. They are wonderfully irreverent and beautifully timed, with the exception of a few that caused such laughter from the audience that the following lines were lost. I hope they weren’t important.

This film is narrated by Tony, following the aftermath of the Avengers movie. Not entirely unlike the previous films, this is a story deeply rooted in the evolution of Tony as a human. <Comic Reference> This particular movie loosely follows some of the character development and plot lines of Fraction’s run of Invincible Iron Man. </Comic Reference> He confesses to Pepper how out of his league he felt with the other members of the Avengers – “a man in a can.” He discusses demons and how they are created, sometimes by chance, and more than once by his own actions. These themes are what made Iron Man great, and they are revisited here.

At the beginning of the film, we see Tony struggling to come to grips with the events in New York during the Avengers, along with the fantastically terrifying portrayal of Mandarin by Ben Kingsley. There is also the foreboding friendliness of Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian, who invites Pepper Potts to invest in his Extremis project. Sure, he’s friendly and kind of handsome, but you just know he’s got a skin suit tucked away somewhere.

As is rather evident early on, Killian and his think-tank, AIM, are not entirely legit (see: skin suit). Tony and Pepper are having problems at home, and then things blow up. Literally. If you’ve seen a preview, you’ve seen his house falling into the water. After he is attacked in his home, Tony gets the wake up call he needs, and he decides to once again rise from the ashes and prove that he is a hero. By now, yes, it is a little formulaic, but if you’re not into that, then don’t read comics/watch comic movies. That’s kind of a running theme.

Pepper is taken hostage; Tony struggles against impossible odds, not the least of which is his own PTSD (undiagnosed!), and he finally overcomes because he has help in a rather unlikely form. There is the requisite final battle (boss battle, if you will) that involves Tony and friends going against seemingly impossible odds but coming out the victors. Tony proves his commitment to Pepper through a montage of destroying suits, medical procedures, and jewelry.

Highlights of the movie included any and all explosions (who doesn’t like those?), an incredible mid-air rescue of 13 people, the effects used on any and all characters exposed to Extremis, and the end credits sequence was retro and fun.

The sequences involving Mandarin were deeply disturbing. They were not unlike seeing Lawless for the first time – cringe-worthy seems like an apt description. They were visceral, and they continued with the Ten-Rings-as-terror-organization theme from the first movie. I understand the reasoning behind the brutality of the Mandarin in these films, but it is difficult to watch, and even more difficult to marry with the comic version, whose ten rings were actual rings and not a terrorist organization not unlike al-Qaeda (oops! I was supposed to not mention that, huh?).

There may have been just a little too much going on, at least for my taste. This film essentially took three plot lines and combined them, some of which span many many years in the comics. Because of all of the fronts covered, some of the ends were tied loose and messy. I imagine much of that will be rectified come the release to Blu-Ray and DVD and their deleted scenes. At a two hour run time, which is less than some of its contemporaries, they did an acceptable job.

There are a few plot twists that, as a moviegoer, were great examples of misdirection, and as a comic book fan, a little bit of a slap in the face. In the interest of readers who want to see the film, I won’t mention them specifically, but they were well-timed and revealed. They helped keep the pace quick, and some of them helped ease some tension.

All in all, I enjoyed this movie. I’ll probably see it again at a matinee because that’s my zen. As a movie lover, this was a great action movie that had some stellar character development, despite some questionable plot points. As a comic lover, it held to the character-driven feel of the Iron Man comics, while destroying some of what I had anticipated for comic plot.

And, of course, you must stay past the credits.