My NO SPOILERS thoughts on Suicide Squad























Okay, so I just came back from seeing Suicide Squad. Here are my brief NO SPOILERS impressions.
The movie is . . . interesting. Deeply problematic, but interesting. Like all of the DC films so far, it’s a mixed bag, with some really good stuff intermingled with some not-so-good stuff. Take a look at that poster, for example. What are they trying to sell us on? The Joker, right? Well, the Joker has less than five minutes of screentime, if that.
I think there was an earlier version of the movie where he gets much more time, and sadly that time is on the editing room floor. This is a shame, because Jared Leto’s take on the character is awesome. It’s not going to replace Heath Ledger’s Joker, but it stands on its own just fine. So they’ve sold us on a movie that doesn’t exist. I can’t WAIT for the director’s cut, if there is one. I want to see the Joker as a prominent character in this film, as he was (mostly likely) originally intended to be. The reshoots probably really hurt this movie, and especially his character.
The heart of this movie is the relationship between Harley Quinn and the Joker. Harley is the stand-out of the movie, hands down, and it should have focused on her and the Joker. It would have been the most twisted relationship ever given a big budget, but it would have been mesmerizing. Instead we get poorly developed side characters and clunky, nonsensical, even repetitive plot mechanics.
I know, it sounds like I’m being hard on the movie, and it really does have some huge, huge problems. On balance, though, I would recommend seeing it, unless you’ve developed a deep dislike of the DC movies (I’m wary but hopeful). Suicide Squad, when it’s working, has a lot of charm, and even some genuine pathos and heart.
Plus I LOVE villainous couples. From Drac and Mina to Chucky and his Bride, I love when lovers go bad, or when baddies fall in love. And even though this movie only gave us a hint of that, that hint was electric. So, if only for Harley and the Joker, I would say go see it. You may hate me afterward, though. I saw this movie with a group of people, and several of them truly despised the movie. So your mileage may vary.

POSTSCRIPT: In some ways, this movie is the opposite of the new Bourne movie. The Bourne movie was a bland but competently made “meh” of a film. Suicide Squad was a lovingly crafted, passionate mess.
If there’s a director’s cut, and it still doesn’t fix the movie, I might try to make a fan edit splicing together the two movies.


Who are Rey’s parents in Star Wars The Force Awakens?

Rey from Star Wars


THIS is a fascinating article about who Rey’s parents might be in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Yes, we’ve all been led to believe she’s Luke’s daughter, and she might well be, but if so why didn’t they just come out and say so? It seems strange to hold something so obvious back. Then again, that could well be the case. But let’s speculate wildly anyway!

Warning: spoilers to follow!

Personally, I like (but don’t entirely buy) the theory of the article’s writer, which fits what we know about what had been the original opening shot of the movie: Luke’s severed hand gripping the lightsaber spinning down through the abyss in Bespin. That could have been conceived simply to explain how Luke’s lightsaber came to be in Maz’s bar, but it could easily fit the other theory, that Luke’s hand was used to create a clone of Luke — a clone that, according to the theory, turned out female.

In any case, Keylo Ren seems to have been aware of Rey. As soon as he learns of a “girl” helping BB-8, he freaks out. Why would he have done that if he didn’t know of Rey’s existence? And if a clone of Luke Skywalker had been made to oppose him, he might well know about it and have done something about it, perhaps in the process stranding her on Jakku.

Han definitely seems to know something, or else why the sly cutaway when Maz asks him who Rey is?

And it makes sense that the Resistance might want a clone of Luke. If he had abandoned them, why not simply make a new Luke? And of course the meaning of the name Luke has to do with light, and “Rey” is a homophone for “ray”, as in a beam of light, so there’s that.

On the other hand (cough), it’s hard to imagine Disney signing off on having their new main character for Star Wars be a clone concocted from a severed body part. They would probably want a naturally-born human as the new face of Star Wars. So in all likelihood Rey will turn out to be Luke’s daughter (or granddaughter?). I’m fine with this, although it does seem a bit less original. Still, it feels satisfying, and the new Disney approach to Star Wars is all about being satisfying. The other way is a bit too edgy and weird. Not that there’s anything wrong with being satisfying. At this point I’m over the moon to be satisfied by a Star Wars movie.

A little edginess would be all right, though.

But what do you think? Any other conspiracy theories about Star Wars: The Force Awakens?


My mini-review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Enough time has gone by that I think it’s acceptable to dive into spoiler territory now. But there WILL be spoilers, so be warned, those of you who haven’t seen Star War: The Force Awakens — SPOILERS beyond this point.

Personally, I really enjoyed The Force Awakens on the first viewing, but I had some problems with it — too many structural callbacks to A New Hope, too much CGI, and not very good CGI — seriously, do we really want the Big Bad to be a lame CGI construction? There is no reason for Snoke to be CGI; he’s very humanoid. Also, Snoke is a silly name. And there was no scary villain like Vader, no towering figure of evil kicking ass. Keylo Ren is more of a conflicted, angst-driven Anakin-esque figure — which is actually pretty great. I love having a conflicted villain. Keylo is fascinating. But no Vader. And Snoke is a goofy hologram on a crappy CGI set.

I had other problems with the movie, but those started to fall away on the second viewing. Because, on the positive side, the movie FELT like Star Wars. It felt like Star Wars more keenly than the Prequels ever did. It was FUN. The characters were a blast (although I didn’t feel like we got to spend enough time with any of them. We didn’t have a long, get-to-know-you period with any of them like we did with Luke.)

But anyway, the movie WORKS. It’s a blast, a nitro-fueled ball of energy filmed against largely practical sets (that are gorgeous and very Star Wars-y), which really helps sell the reality of the universe. When the sets aren’t practical, like the awful CGI bridge at the end with Han, they’re less good. Seriously, the CGI in this movie is terrible. But fortunately so much of it is practical, and beautifully made, with vibrant directing, likeable acting and exciting Star Wars-y stuff going on.

I can’t wait to get to know the new characters better, especially Poe. I understand he was actually meant to die in this movie, but they decided to keep him around, and I’m glad they did. Hopefully he’ll have a bigger role next time around. His daring heroism feels so refreshing in this jaded age.

I love the fact that the lightsaber duel wasn’t all leaping and jumping around. It wasn’t for looks so much (as in Phantom Menace) but for substance. I want an explanation for how Rey is able to go up against Keylo Ren without training, but I’m assuming she absorbed some of his own training during their mind meld, so I’m willing to let that slide.

I love that Finn was a garbage man.

I want (and will probably get) a comic book about each of the aliens in Kanata’s bar.

I’m still wrestling with my feelings on the movie, but overall I’m starting to love it. A third viewing is definitely required. It was during the second viewing of Phantom Menace that it really began to sink in that something was way wrong with the Prequels. On the second viewing of Force Awakens, I only began to like it more. A third viewing might push me over the like line into love.

What about you? Thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Conjectures for the future of the series? Is Rey Luke’s daughter? What’s up with her vision?


More Prometheus movies?

Prometheus image

Prometheus image

I wish they’d figure out what they want from the Prometheus movies. I would love more Alien movies, I’d love more Engineer movies, and I would also be overjoyed to see them onscreen at the same time. I think the Engineers are fascinating and it would be wonderful for filmmakers to explore them more fully. Alternately, I’d love to see the Alien series redeemed and renewed. But calling the sequel to Prometheus “Alien: Paradise Lost” seems like an odd choice, if indeed it is about David’s head traveling to the homeworld of the Engineers . . . unless it’s overrun with Aliens? If THAT’S the direction they’re going, all-out Engineer war including use of the Aliens as bioweapons, well, that could be amazing. And Ridley Scott is planning a four-movie series? I’m delighted and confused in equal measure.

On the other hand, using the Aliens as bioweapons is a sci-fi war sort of diminishes the Aliens and robs them of their mystery, so if they want more Alien movies, why not just make more Alien movies, focusing on them without any Engineers present? Or make more Engineer movies but call them Prometheus 2, 3 and 4.

I can’t wait to see where they’re going with al this, but I can’t help but feel they’re not quite sure where that is themselves.


A “Back to the Future” remake?

A “Back to the Future” remake?

Maybe not, says Robert Zemekis, co-creator of the beloved science fiction series “Back to the Future”, according to this article over on . He and fellow co-creator Bob Gale maintain they won’t allow a remake or sequel . . . within their lifetimes. Eventually, though, there will doubtlessly be follow-ups to the series. Hollywood execs have no boundaries on what they considered sacred or untouchable. They even created a prequel to “Wizard of Oz”, although, in all fairness, they did refrain from full-on remaking it. Of course, I’m sure that would have changed had the Sam Raimi-directed follow-up been better.

Obviously there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with remakes — “Scarface”, “The Philadelphia Story”, “The Wizard of Oz” — all remakes, all great. But the actual ODDS of remaking “Back to the Future” well enough to justify doing it seem small indeed.

The only upside I can see is that a remake would draw attention to the originals and spark a new generation to find and love them.