Suicide Squad bringing the funnies? Who cares?

Now, a lot has been made of these additional pick-ups for David Ayer’s Suicide Squad. The negative reaction to Batman v Superman’s “gritty reality” spawned numerous internet theories about the reasons for said pick-ups, mainly along the lines of the need to add more humour. Then along came this new trailer:

Whether it brings the funnies or not, I’m still very much looking forward to this one. I like apples and oranges.

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Best. Music. Ever

So, I woke up this morning and found those lovely people over at Warner Bros. had uploaded a new trailer for Suicide Squad. I thought the footage used at Comic-Con 2015 was good. This is better! Enjoy.

Worst. Superheroes. Ever.

They’re being very canny with the marketing strategy for this one. In all honesty, I was on board the day they announced Will Smith was going to be involved. His career has been on a bit of a slide of late, so to be involved with this kind of project is a somewhat ballsy move. You wouldn’t normally associate such a (perceived) big star signing up for an ensemble piece. He’s usually a one-man-band when it comes to starring in films, but as I say, perhaps his lack of a bone-fide box office hit in the last few years has made him consider other options. And what better way than to get on the superhero gravy train?

By the way, how good is that use of footage, editing and sound editing to hit the beats on an all-time classic? It’s definitey up there with the scene from Wayne’s World insofar as enjoyment of a Queen track goes!

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Comic book adaptation obsession

This is by no means a criticism. I started enjoying reading sequential art 30 years ago and still read The Walking Dead – I’m a fan. That the Marvel Cinematic Universe has brought a bunch of super-human costume wearers into the public domain and made them unbelievably popular is to be applauded. The DC Extended Universe has taken a little longer to get up to speed, with The Dark Knight Trilogy being their blueprint for the future of their cinematic outings. I suppose Man of Steel (2013) was the first “official” release into that extended universe, but the “gritty realism” shown in Christopher Nolan’s take on the world created by DC Comics clearly imbues the look and feel of Zack Synder’s Superman adaptation.

While it was obvious Man of Steel would get a sequel, it was a bit of a surprise to hear the announcement from DC and their partner Warner Brothers that the continuation of this universe would include a Suicide Squad adaptation. I’d heard of the comic but was not familiar with it at all. Of course, that’s all about to change with the realise of the film locked in for 5th August in the UK and US. With a cast that includes Oscar winner Jared Leto playing the Joker, Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, you can colour me interested. Check out this trailer to get yourself up to speed.

I’m liking the look of that! And what better way to publicise such an ensemble cast than to produce some nice character posters as well? Hopefully, the use of such a distinctive style for the posters – rather than the usual head-shots – is an indication of the value of the production itself. We can but hope.

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One Word Review recap – February 2015

In case you’ve missed any, here’s a list of the films I reviewed in February. If you click on any of the titles, it’ll take you straight to that particular review.

Big Hero 6 poster v01

Big Hero 6Touching

Interview poster

The InterviewPuerile

Jupiter Ascending poster v01

Jupiter AscendingBoring

Focus poster v01

FocusTransparent

Shaun the Sheep poster v01

Shaun the SheepAppealing

Cake poster v01

CakeWorthy

Blackhat poster

blackhatTripe

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Focus – Transparent

Focus banner

The problem with a “con” film is that, by its very nature, all is not what it seems. So we expect the so-called “unexpected” and should “delight” in the moment it happens. The thing with Focus is, while such things happen at regular intervals during the proceedings, we’re neither delighted nor surprised in the “con” mechanism. You see, there are “tells” within the narrative construct signalled with such dumbfounding obviousness that even a blind person can see them.

Focus poster v01

While the directors – Glen Ficarra and John Requa – delighted me with their Steve Carell vehicle Crazy, Stupid, Love, Focus is a bit of a dud. It could be that the former was from a script by someone else, while the latter is their own material. Either way, I’m guessing writing isn’t really their strong-point. There were moments during Focus when I hoped to be elevated beyond my malaise, even a point early on when I almost had an epiphany, but alas twas not to be. Focus slipped back into its standard, by-the-numbers formula and the moment passed. There are no whistles and bells in the direction department either, but sometimes a well shot, classically edited movie is all that is needed. A couple of flourishes here and there were a welcome distraction as the film progressed and when you’re shooting Will Smith and Margot Robbie it’s always going to look great.

I’ve seen Margot Robbie in two films now – the first being The Wolf of Wall Street – and I’m getting the feeling she’s really only present on our screen for a bit of eye-candy. Granted, any actor worth his or her salt will do almost anything to get a gig with Martin ScorseseJonah Hill took rock-bottom minimum wage to be involved – so it’s no real surprise that Ms. Robbie used all her assets for that role. The thing is, while it’s never that revealing during Focus, I’m sure the costume department didn’t have to worry about the amount of fabric needed to clothe her. I’d like to think she’s a damn good actor and hope to see her in something that doesn’t just rely on the viewer gazing upon her assets and not worrying about whether she can actually act.

F Robbie

Margot Robbie as Jess

As for Mr. Smith, well there’s only so many average films he can open these days before people start to finally cotton on. He’s made some interesting movies in the intervening years, but quite frankly he’s in desperate need of a hit and this, unfortunately, isn’t it. Playing someone with underlying issues – seemingly “broken” so-to-speak – is the de rigueur stance these past few years. Same-old-same-old and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon. Some may point to MiB 3 as a change from the norm, but quite frankly there’s no polishing that turd. If Mr. Smith wanted to do a sequel, then why not jump aboard the good ship Independence Day and watch the money come flooding in? Now, you may not like Roland Emmerich, but he knows how to get bums-on-seats and his films are always enjoyable! And that’s what cinema is all about, right? To leave the theatre feeling something; to experience an emotional connection.

F McRaney

Gerald McRaney as Ownes

As for the supporting cast of Focus, well special mention should definitely go to Brennan Brown (yes, the guy from the Orange 2for1 ads), Adrian Martinez (he’s so excited to be in Focus his IMDb profile pic is a selfie with Will Smith) and the always excellent Gerald McRaney (catch him in the wonderful House of Cards on Netflix). In all fairness, I’m sure there will be worse films on release when Focus comes out on 27th February, so it won’t be an utter waste of your time. At least half the audience I watched it with – and there were quite a few – did all the right things in all the right places. Just don’t be surprised that you’ve probably seen it all before.

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Is After Earth really that bad?

After Earth 1

As of writing this piece, the date is 11th July 2013. On 7th June 2013, Will Smith‘s current star vehicle, After Earth, opened in the UK. We are 5 weeks down the line. Some films have come and gone in that time – Michael Shannon’s The Iceman and Dwayne Johnson’s Snitch to name two – but After Earth is still showing. In a summer period that is currently offering Man of Steel, World War Z and This Is the End, that isn’t something to be sniffed at.

A two star review in Empire Magazine, 11% rotten on the Flixster/ Rotten Tomatoes app/ website and an imdb.com user rating of 4.9 from over 30,000 users surely says it all about M. Night Shyamalan‘s latest offering. What heightened my curiosity was how can a film that has been universally panned still be taking money 5 weeks later? I have to admit, based on the dearth of poor reviews, I’d decided that missing After Earth wasn’t going to be the end of the world. Yet here I am, attempting to make sense of it after watching it at my local cinema last night. Let’s not kid ourselves; as far as Hollywood is concerned, it’s all about the money. That’s why we still get the likes of Scary Movie 4 or any number of Eddie Murphy “comedies”! So the Sony/ Colombia execs must be heaving a collective sign of relief to see a near $200m worldwide return on their estimated $130m investment numbers from boxofficemojo.com). One can suppose that leaving a poorly reviewed film “out there” to try an eke as much out of its dead-on-arrival opening is one way of looking at it. But I’ve seen plenty of tent-pole releases that are quickly pulled from theatres and have sunk without trace. On glancing around last night, I would estimate around 30 people were in attendance. Once again, not bad for a poorly reviewed film in its 5th week of release.

Now let’s get down to brass tacks. Is After Earth as bad as the reviews suggest? Well we’re nowhere near the “how bad is Movie 43?” arena! First thing to say is that I’m not convinced about the acting prowess of Jaden Smith. He’s OK, but nothing more than that. And also, the emotionally constipated character Will Smith plays seems somewhat two-dimensional. It’s clearly a Smith & Smith vehicle – not surprising since Will Smith has a story credit. Smith junior is the one with more screen time, which makes you think this is a blatant attempt at using his father’s cachΓ© to push his career along. Or am I just being cynical? Don’t get me wrong, I like Will Smith; even the likes of I Am Legend and I, Robot, although I will admit to giving MiB II & III a body-swerve. I even enjoyed Jaden’s Karate Kid remake, but that may be due to the legend that is Jackie Chan. I’m not really doing After Earth many favours am I? As I write, it seems to me that I’m being quite negative about it. It also occurs to me that some of the bad press could be down to the negativity shown towards Shyamalan after his two previous efforts, The Happening and The Last Airbender flopped. I will admit to not seeing the former, but I did attempt to view the latter and had to switch off. It. Was. Bad. But I have to say that After Earth is OK. I quite enjoyed it. I liked the premise. I liked what they did with Earth 1000 years from now. I don’t actually feel that it’s as bad as you think it is. Perhaps I was pleasantly surprised by this and so am being kinder in my assessment. I’ve sat through worse, there’s no doubt about it. So, “Is After Earth really that bad?” No, it really isn’t. It’s worth a watch, but perhaps in the comfort of your own home.