Movie Review: Suicide Squad (7.8/10)

Warner Brothers has churned out three films from the DC Extended Universe thus far: “Man of Steel” (2013), “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” which came out in March, and “Suicide Squad,” which was released in Hong Kong on August 4.

I had the most fun with DC’s latest entry, by far.  The film was gritty yet retained a sense of humor throughout (you know how some movies start off really funny but gets really serious in the third act? This one has little humor moments from start to finish.)

The Squad itself was definitely the highlight of the film, as chemistry flourished between characters.  Joel Kinnaman was well cast as the no-BS military leader Rick Flag, tasked with leading this team of bad guys including Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), and Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) against, simply-speaking, a rogue villain.

Will Smith was… okay.  He did enough as the anchor of the Suicide Squad without hitting us with too many of his Will Smith-isms.

Also worth a mention is the Jared Leto’s Joker.  This is the first time ever where the Joker is featured in the film but is not the main villain / antagonist.  I think that is perhaps why I was not necessary underwhelmed, but left wanting more from that character.  I would definitely like to see more of him in feature films.

The standout of this film was Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, who packs just enough sexy and crazy into one of the most popular comic book characters of all time.  The film will likely be remembered for her performance, and I look forward to watching her on the big screen again.

The film could have been even better if it were not for a weak plot and a fairly CGI-driven third act (though some of the special effects were quite good).  I would really recommend this film as it shows the much-needed lighter side of the DC Universe.

Note* there is a mid-credit scene in the movie.

Oscar Film Review Series Intro & #1: Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club

So, the Oscars are over and this is a little late, but that doesn’t mean these pictures aren’t worth seeing.  Many of these are still showing in theatres (some yet to be released, here in Hong Kong).

Having seen many of this year’s Academy Awards nominees, including 7 out of the 9 Best Picture nominees, I’m going to review them and provide my preferred choices to have won the awards for the various categories.

Lets start with one of my favorites.

Matthew McConaughey rightly deserves his win for best actor (sorry, Leo fans) as Ron Woodroof, playing an AIDS-stricken Texan with such emotional gravitas that had me glued to the screen from start to finish.  The performance was both tragic and uplifting.

Jared Leto also gives a mesmerizing performance, playing Rayon, a transgender man with AIDS who crosses paths with Woodroof.  With a performance like that, the Oscar was his to lose.

It was, however, a snub for Jennifer Garner, who wasn’t even nominated for best supporting actress for her role as a doctor who finds herself in the middle of a struggle between the pharmaceutical empire’s rush to get drugs out into the public and the concern for her patients’ safety.  It was a quietly powerful performance that elevated McConaughey’s to the brilliance that it was.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about movies that are “based on true events”, or “inspired by a true story.”  The topic gained prominence again after “Argo”, a film that was based on true events but was highly dramatized and fictionalized in some bits, won best picture last year.  It was no exception this year, as films such as “Captain Phillips” and “Philomena” are also based on true events.  Some of these have the feel of being bogged down by the fact that it was based on true events, as moviegoers would find themselves thinking “there is no way that actually happened!”  which takes them right out of the movie.  Such was not an issue for “Dallas Buyers Club”, which immerses the audience into film’s world.  There was no sense of whether such and such was real or not; the story was driving force behind the true events, not the true events.

Finally, the film perfectly treads on the thin line whereby, if fallen into the wrong hands, could have easily been a tear-jerking sad fest.  It rings the heart strings of the audience, but doesn’t use the abuse the film’s sensitive, tragic topic.

It’s definitely one of the year’s best, and definitely worth seeing.