Winner - Best Makeup

WARNER BROS. PICTURES (2016)

Director: David Ayer

Starring: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood, Cara Delevigne

Superman is dead and a band of baddies are recruited by the shady Government to do their dirty work - it's definitely a comic book movie.

David Ayer had a thankless task attempting to integrate and introduce ten major characters to an audience who potentially/probably weren’t comic aficionados. For the most part he succeeded, however the film suffers from ‘Hobbit Syndrome’ – an ensemble with a few major players and a bunch of peripherals left underdeveloped.

Examples - El Diablo came through after an lacklustre introduction, and old dragon hands provided a bittersweet performance by the movie’s conclusion. Boomerang seemed to play the filler character for the majority of the film, not fleshed out to a level that I actually wanted to see more of him, and a lack of charisma that the other rascals carried. Killer Croc seemed to be there for comic relief, not really offering more than a few one liners/quips (which, admittedly, were great each time) and to fill the quota of being the muscle of the gang - a slight waste of great prosthetics. Slipknot? Meh. Ultimate filler.

The villains in the movie were underwhelming, and in Incubus’ case, bloody awful. In 2016, with the advances of CGI technology and practical effects, this guy looked like he’d been created by a college student. An underachieving college student. A ridiculous character. I could go on, but there is a review to write. The monsters that were created by Enchantress were nothing more than fodder, henchman whose sole reason for being in the movie was allow the squad to kick ass. Enchantress had good potential, but was lost in a myriad of smoke, strobe and strange dancing. Less sultry, more silly. The villain who wants to take over the world card has been played a million times before, and needs something more tangible to make me want to be invested in their quest. I didn’t believe in the threat posed.

Waller, on the other hand, I believed in. She portrayed a cold, clinical operative whose sole focus is getting the job done at any cost. The proverbial pain in the arse. Whenever the squad were getting ideas of flight or abandoning, Waller would pop up and remind them of her device that will blow their brains out. She was always there watching, and provided a great antagonist. Well played Viola Davis.

Will Smith was dependable and magnetic as usual, delivering the fun and serious in equal measures. He depicted the conflict perfectly, a man torn between loyalty to his job/money and his daughter - plus we all know Will Smith is here to save the world . Conflict was a theme throughout each character, which humanised them and elevated them above being simply cardboard cut-out hero-villains.

Jared Leto’s Joker was a conundrum. On one hand, he delivered a chilling version of the Clown Price of Crime, empty and remorseless. On the other hand, the performance became contrived and too ‘method’. Leto’s gangster Joker had enough darkness beneath the layers, however he was under-utilised throughout, and with more time, maybe the character could’ve blossomed further. Leto better than Ledger? Nope.

The star of the show was undoubtedly Margot Robbie and Harley Quinn. She smashed the performance; she was like a doll on crack. She sizzled as the unhinged minx, delivering on humour and providing excellent chemistry with all characters. Quinn stole the show in every scene she was in, and attracted the eye each time – maybe in part due to her colourful attire and makeup set against the grim, austere backdrops.

 

The visuals were great for the most part, the vibrant colours in the first half of the film bouncing off the screen like pages from a comic book, a slight variety in settings and a lighter approach. It all looked very cool and provided an offbeat vibe. Throughout the second half of the film, these colours and aesthetics were splattered against a dark, austere cityscape, and the lighting didn’t help as I struggled to see certain scenes (a fight scene set in smoke?) Just don’t remind me of Incubus.

The editing was a little off to me, as well as the pace. The movie attempted to thunder along, whilst constantly taking us back in the narrative, yet the key points all seemed to happen fairly quickly, whilst being spliced together by incremental exposition. It created a jarring effect which prevented the movie from flowing smoothly. Additionally, the music took me right out of the movie. The soundtrack is great, combining new and old classics; however it created a feeling of thinking about the song rather than its connection to the scene/character. It made the attempt at a loose and edgy film somewhat forced, and for me didn’t work.

The movie entertained me, quite a lot in fact, I enjoyed the main character development and the humour weaved throughout. After the huge hype surrounding the movie, I don’t think it hit the heights it was expected to – whether that was down to character development, the multiple versions of the movie floating about, who knows – but it was missing something special to elevate it, it didn’t have the wow factor for me - certainly without Margot Robbie's stellar performance, the film would've fallen flat. Though some of the movies themes may be questionable (see Joker’s relationship with Harley) it’s definitely watchable, especially if you want some fun for a few hours. As said in the movie – “that is just a whole lot of pretty and a whole lot of crazy”.

(P.S. Helicopter crashes can be survived quite routinely apparently...)

August 12th 2016

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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