I’m going to start out this review by saying that I don’t even know how to tell you about James Gunn’s reboot/sequel of the ill-received 2016 Suicide Squad film. While spoilers in film are nigh impossible to avoid, for some reason this film actually managed to do an amazing job of keeping us in the dark about what was going to happen. Like, there are so many brilliant things about this movie that I want to talk about, while caring about not giving you spoilers, that I simply can’t understand how my news feeds didn’t spoil it all immediately upon release of the film.
So, yeah, I’m going to avoid talking about anything that you can’t already have found out about in the trailers for the film. If you’re one of those people who avoid trailers because of how many spoilers end up in those things, the last thing you should read here is that this is a fun film which will surprise you time and again and cause you to question whether things actually happened right up until the end. It’s a magnificent piece of comic book cinema, even if comic book cinema is getting a little overdone.
So, first things first. The trailers showcased time and again my absolute favorite thing about this movie, that the villain of this film is an enormous sentient/telepathic starfish from space named Starro. Starro has long been one of my favorite comic book villains because he’s just so dang ridiculous while also being legitimately one of the scariest villains out there. I mean, this character has mind-controlled Superman, folks. There is honestly nothing this alien sea creature isn’t capable of doing because all he has to do is to send along his little one-eyed starfish spores to infect the people who can do it for him. If you are only reading this review to find out if you should watch the movie, read no further. Starro is done in spectacular fashion in this movie and that should be reason enough to see the movie.
Oh, and it’s bloody as heck. But with practical effects. Although this film has numerous CGI characters, it’s obvious that Gunn used practical effects whenever possible and that makes a world of difference. We don’t have an end battle where the good guy and the bad guy are in a CGI nothing-verse battling each other while also both obviously being completely CGI. It’s so refreshing to see end battles happen in a place where people inhabit with backgrounds and stuff, as opposed to them somehow ending up in some other realm (even if they’re not actually in some other realm) and suddenly being transformed into a computer generated version of themselves as they battle across the nothingverse.
Look, this film isn’t perfect. I actually came out of watching it simply thinking it was okay, but nothing special. However, the more I think about it as I’ve been separated from that first viewing, the more I realize just how much there is to love about it. Honestly, if I had watched this movie in the theater, with a hundred other people all reacting to the film in the same way I had been, things would have been a lot different than me silently enjoying it so I didn’t wake up my wife.
This movie should be the type of movie all comic book films aspire to. There are surprises at every turn. There are witty lines, but they don’t resort to using them to avoid tragic moments. The characters actually get to be emotional. It’s funny, it’s gory, it’s action-packed, but even more than that, we actually get actual character arcs, where we see people who are sad about something and get resolution of some sort for that sadness, or characters who are struggling to find their place in the world find that place.
And for a movie with an anthropomorphic shark who speaks primarily in 1-2 word sentences, that’s saying a whole heckuva lot.
Look, it’s another superhero movie, and like the director of this film, I’m finding myself getting more and more bored with them. But this is a superhero movie that could actually give us a roadmap for future superhero movies so that we don’t end up with just a bunch more movies like Black Widow which feel like they’re just changing the character names while keeping the exact same script they’ve been using for the last decade.
It’s not the best superhero movie, but it just might inspire the person to make the best superhero movie.
Or…we’ll get more tragic Draxes who lose their entire family to Thanos, choosing to spend their time questioning the Why of Gamora and showcasing their invisibility skills instead of avenging the deaths of those they loved most. Sure, it’s funny, but hardly a satisfying story arc for a character we’ve grown to love.
But when you can make an irredeemable murderer into a redeemable father figure, all while an enormous starfish is turning an entire city into zombies, well…we might be getting somewhere when it comes to turning comic books into cinema.
And don’t even get me started on Polka Dot Man…I could write an entire post about how much this character means to me.