There’s no saving ‘Suicide Squad’

“Suicide Squad” was doomed to begin with.

This squad, assembled by director and writer David Ayer, are tasked with the impossible, made even more so by the elevated expectations of comic book fans.

This was D.C’s team going head to head with Marvel’s successful “Avengers” franchise.

But the squad — made up of Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) and Croc Killer (Adewale Akinneuoye-Agbaje) — were set up to fail.

They’re the “The Dirty Dozen” of supervillains — the bad guys assigned to save the world. Not only are they tasked with battling badder guys, but these guys are fighting their instinctually human urges of serving their own self interest.

“Suicide Squad” has many problems, but the first is its ridiculous premise: that a group of supervillains could actually be the next Superman or Batman — and that they’d want to be heroes to begin with.

The film overcompensates for these villains inherent natures by giving them sympathetic backstories and editing out scenes showing truly evil stuff. By omitting this material, the filmmakers are also editing out important context clues crucial to our understanding of these characters.

These guys are bad guys for a reason yet those reasons aren’t explained. Instead, we’re given reasons we should sympathize with these protagonists. El Diablo accidentally killed his wife in a fire and Croc Killer was born looking like a monster — so he became one.

Casting directors Lindsay Graham and Mary Vernieu also cast one of the most likable and charismatic human beings alive to play Deadshot, a jaded paid assassin for hire. You don’t have a problem believing Will Smith’s a hero after seeing him in previous roles such as “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Men in Black,” “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “I am Legend,” so its hard to believe that Smith’s Deadshot is actually a villain.

“Suicide Squad” focuses on Deadshot’s role as a loving father to his daughter Zoe (Shailyn Pierre-Dixon), but while that’s enough material to make a two hour film with, that’s only a fraction of what “Suicide Squad” is supposed to contain. Remember the other villains? We don’t remember most of them either.

That’s quite a letdown since the film features one of the most interesting and iconic cinematic characters of all time. Yet “Suicide Squad” treats Jared Leto’s Joker as a gloried sidekick, using him to play to Prince Charming to Harley Quinn’s mad acid party.

“Suicide Squad” might have worked better if each of these villains were built up prior to the film, living in their own separate franchise films until this movie brought them together. (We certainly wish Robbie’s Harley Quinn and Leto’s Joker got their own movie.) Or perhaps “Suicide Squad” would have worked better if we were presented real anti-heros instead of “Suicide Squad’s” poor excuses.

Whatever the case, perhapses won’t alleviate the feeling of being cheated.

“Suicide Squad” was written and directed by David Ayer, based on John Ostrander’s comic books. 


What would happen if Halo was a movie: maybe ‘Lazer Team’

How do you make a football movie for gamers?

Well, if you’re Rooster Teeth, add in aliens, explosions, lasers guns, fireworks, potty humor and Easter eggs.

The result is “Lazer Team,” an 102-minute end-of-the-world movie staring the unlikeliest squad of heroes: Officer Hagan (Burnie Burns), a washed-up high school fullback who ended up as a cop in his hometown; Hagan’s daughter’s boyfriend Zach (Michael Jones), a skinny sophomoric high school football star who thinks with his dick; Herman (Colton Dunn), a bitter invalid who has a grudge against Hagan; and Woody (Gavin Free), Herman’s friend who doesn’t think at all.

They’re the type of guys who stand still as the rest of the world moves on. They never really grew out of high school, and spend the consecutive days/months/years nursing their beer bellies and playing video games.

By sheer idiocy, these four screwballs manage to insert themselves into the livelihood of humankind, accidentally hijacking a secret government operation to defeat an impending alien threat.

And, well, it doesn’t go so well.

“Lazer Team” isn’t a great movie. It isn’t even a good movie. But it’s that kind of cult classic that people have and will rally behind.

Take for instance how it got started as the highest funded IndieGogo campaign, raising almost $2.5 million from 37,493 backers. That’s extraordinary for an independent low-budget film. Only about 10 percent of IndieGogo campaigns get fully funded, according to a study by The Verge. (And the average indie film costs $750,000 to make, cites a 2014 Cultural Weekly study.)

Yet “Lazer Team’s” shattered those statistics. People have and will pay to watch these four idiots’ immature antics on the big screen.  

And while it’s far from the greatest movie ever made, “Lazer Team’s” the kind of special effects bonanza that you expect from its galvanizing force — the YouTubers behind Red vs. Blue, Rooster Teeth and the Slow Mo Guys. 

If nothing else, you get to watch Gavin Free talk with an American accent briefly.

“Lazer Team” was directed by Matt Hullum, and written by Hullum, Bernie Burns, Chris Demarais, and Josh Flanagan.  


Returning to ‘Orange is the New Black’

At one point in the fourth season of Netflix drama “Orange is the New Black,” Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning) differentiates the meaning behind pain and suffering. “Pain is always there because life is freaking painful, okay,” she says, “but suffering is a choice.”

Even though pain has always been a part of “Orange is the New Black,” the suffering’s more prominent in its fourth season. In this season, several characters are noticeably absent in solitary confinement, maximum security prison and the psychiatric ward.

What’s left of Litchfield Penitentiary feels like a different place, privatized by MCC and run by harder and fiercer correction officers including new captain of the guards Desi Piscatella (Brad William Henke) and also a host of sadistic and inexperienced recruits including Thomas Humphrey (Michael Torpey), B. Stratman (Evan Hall), Baxter Bayley (Alan Aisenberg) and Charlie Coates (James McMenamin).

Under their command, racial tensions and human injustice burn hotly in the tight and dangerously overcrowded corridors of Litchfield. Women are bullied, groped, humiliated and tortured. Male guards stalk female inmates in the showers and strip search women in the halls.

The only strength now comes in numbers and numbers gather and disseminate into different gangs: Dominican Republicans, white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

These ingredients make the latest season of “Orange is the New Black” its most dangerous season yet.

“Orange Is the New Black” was written and created by Jenji Kohan.

Unraveling ‘The Library at Mount Char’

At the center of everything is a story. The story of how God created the universe in seven days. The story of how the body of a mountain giant eventually became the earth, sea and clouds. The story of how a fearful god swallowed his children because they were destined to usurp him.

Scott Hawkins understands the importance of stories. His 388-page debut novel, “The Library at Mount Char,” is essentially a story about stories.


“The Library at Mount Char”
By Scott Hawkins
388 pp. Broadway Books. $16.00 US.

Its protagonist, Carolyn Sopaski, is a thirty-two-year-old librarian at Garrison Oaks. She’s one of twelve Pelapi, which roughly translate to “pupil” or “librarian.”

Carolyn and her siblings are all part of the Pelapi tribe, each devoting their entire lives to studying a single catalog from their Father’s library. Carolyn’s in charge of learning all the earth’s spoken languages and she becomes the mediator between the world Hawkins built and the world we think we know.

Hawkins’ story is predicated upon the idea of “regression completeness,” a phrase he made up that means “no matter how many mysteries you solve, there’s always a deeper mystery behind it.” This is how he structures “The Library at Mount Char” — which is not exactly a horror mystery or fantasy/sci-fi thriller, but keeps you glued to its pages nonetheless.

“The Library of Mount Char” reads as if you were suddenly transported within a game of Improv, an episode of “Doctor Who” or the script of “The Hangover” movie starring Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms (yes, the movie featuring Mike Tyson and a tiger).

Hawkins writes with an absurdist humor, filling the pages with a gigantic man willingly wearing a tutu, lions saving a man from a pack of dogs, a woman wearing a bathrobe and cowboy hat to the bank, and a former army sergeant who goes by Erwin. The novel’s almost dreamlike — as if you were submerging within Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” — playing like a movie in your mind.

You’re going to remember this story.