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"Suicide Squad" and What It Can Teach Us About Modern Movies
I'm just going to start by saying that reviewing movies is frankly quite tricky, as one runs the risk of knocking certain performances based on how much money the film has, or how hard the actor may have worked, how much as stretch the character was, and a plethora of other reasons. Some "good" movies are very boring and uneventful and some "bad" movies are very entertaining and exciting to watch. It must be stated outright that deciding what makes a movie good or bad, worthwhile or not, is a pretty personal choice, whether critics can admit it or not. It can't be forgotten that movies are an art form, and just like paintings or music, they are just as particular and specific as the person viewing them.
NOW, with that dusty preamble about of the way, let's get to the good stuff.
Arguably the most talked about movies of the summer is David Ayer's Suicide Squad. The movie is a great example of the gap between critics and everyday movie goers, one that I personally think should be closed, but the movie has made over $500 million worldwide since its release on August 5th, despite being pretty much torn to shreds in its reviews.
Let's get this straight, Suicide Squad is a garbage movie. I'm not going to be nice about it, because frankly, I'm really tired of lazy movies making lots and lots of money. And yes, I mean lazy. It was a very interesting idea for a movie so it's almost as if everyone involved thought they didn't have to work hard on anything else. The writing was lazy, the editing was lazy, and the movie failed to live up to expectation. The movie is entertaining, but that alone couldn't make it worth paying to see it in theaters. But I'm not here to write another review of a poorly executed movie, but to examine why the confusing plot, strange placing of only covers of songs (did they not have the rights to any of the originals?), and lack of Jared Leto's eyebrows, didn't prevent this movie from being a total flop at the box office.
This movie is pretty disheartening for any fan of cinema for a very simple reason: it proves that filmmakers don't have to work hard to make a lot of money. Now, I'm sure David Ayer worked very hard on making sure he got good shots, and that his actors looked the way he envisioned, but beyond the actual presentation of the movie, it doesn't really look like he worked hard on much else. Just like in any art form, there is more to a movie than just the presentation of it, but that appears to be a fact the creators of Suicide Squad forgot. They focused so hard on the aesthetic of their movie, and did such a good job with it that it makes one wonder if the creative team actually thought all those crazy colors and twisted smiley faces were the only things that mattered. If it is, that's very concerning because it means that the future of moviemaking rests in the hands of those who don't care if their art offers anything but visuals. Now, I'm not saying Suicide Squad needed to explain the meaning of life, or shed some new light on the fate of humanity or something; a good movie doesn't have to make audience members question everything about their lives. However, because the movie is so confusing and haphazardly written, one can only assume that David Ayer didn't think a story that made sense was included in his budget. This is dangerous for the future of moviemaking, because the second a director or producer puts aesthetic above coherent storytelling, the hard work and integrity of everyone on set is compromised.
Included in "everyone" are the films actors. Viola Davis, Will Smith and Margot Robbie are three of the movies biggest stars, and all I have to say is that it takes a lot to make these guys look bad, but this movie definitely did. Suicide Squad showed these actors that their hard work and talent means nothing compared to their bankable faces. Viola Davis' character was a joke, Will Smith had the worst lines in the movie and Margot Robbie played the most interesting character with maybe the laziest development. In my opinion, this movie is a slap in the face to actors. Imagine what kind of impact that has on young actors, who want to make movies and tell stories but are constantly reminded by movies like Suicide Squad that working hard is pointless. Their years slaving away as bit parts and chorus members will have been years wasted. It also shows actors of color, who have been fighting hard for much deserved, accurate and important representation in blockbusters, that they may get those moments, but they'll either play a gross stereotype, have 3 lines, or end up dead. There is no doubt that Suicide Squad failed it's actors, specifically it's women and actors of color. I cannot and will not blame the actors for any wrongdoings of the film because I think anyone can agree that any actor deserves better than what Viola Davis, Will Smith, Margot Robbie or even Jared Leto got out of this movie. If they did it for the paycheck, who can blame them? Everyone's gotta eat.
Unthoughtful filmmaking also tells audience members that studios think they're stupid. In this case, Warner Brothers was right, audience members are stupid. They went to see a movie that gives them nothing but cheesy lines and knives, and let it become the highest grossing movie of 2016. Audience members fell into the trap that Warner Brothers set for them. What we have here is a cycle that will ultimately only create more lousy movies. Studios and filmmakers see they can make lots of movies without working hard, audiences make those movies successful, so studios and filmmakers keep making lazy movies and audiences keep seeing them. It's disappointing and rather unfortunate, but it is, thankfully, a cycle that can be broken.
Audience members must hold filmmakers accountable. We must demand better made movies. This has been done before, specifically with the film Stonewall, which moviegoers boycotted due to the lack of correct storytelling.This doesn't mean that every movie must make us think deeply about what it means to be in love, or be a commentary on social issues, but it must have a well thought out plot, developed characters, and give audience members some sort of cathartic moment where they can walk out of the theatre feeling something just a little bit different from when they walked in.
If that feeling is something along the line of utter confusion, or regret, you're doing it wrong.