The Suicide Squad: Film Review

The Suicide Squad

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The original Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer and released in 2016, wasn’t exactly received well (to put it mildly) so it would understandable if you had some reservations about this standalone sequel, but let me assure you that James Gunn‘s outing is very different and totally awesome.

Once again, inmates of Belle Reve prison are recruited by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to become a part of Task Force X – aka The Suicide Squad – in exchange for shaving time off their sentences. This time around the convicts – including Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), Nanaue/King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone) and Ratcatcher II (Daniela Melchior), among many more – are sent to the South American island of Corto Maltese to destroy the Nazi-era lab Jotunheim, where inhumane experiments have been conducted for years under the watchful eye of Gaius Grieves (Peter Capaldi). It is also said to contain Project Starfish, an extra-terrestrial that could be used against America.

Ayer’s 2016 movie was very dark and serious and Gunn does a complete 180 and makes his version of Suicide Squad incredibly fun. It is an absolute blast from start to finish. It is hilarious – there is so much black comedy in this – boisterous, loud, ballsy, chaotic and such a riot. It is also seriously violent and gory, with blood and guts everywhere, so it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted.

If you’re familiar with Gunn’s previous work – such as Slither and the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise – then you’ll have an idea about his sense of humour and know what to expect with Suicide Squad. I’m a big fan of his work and I think his writing is extremely funny so this suited my tastes perfectly. The film doesn’t take itself seriously at all and most of what you see is very tongue-in-cheek. The action is also pretty non-stop and there are a few very cool setpieces, with my favourite being Harley’s escape scene.

Unlike those Marvel movies, it seems Gunn was given pretty much rein to make this film as adult, provocative and gruesome as he liked, and given that it’s a standalone movie, it also seems like he was allowed to do what he liked with the characters. There are so many (the list above just scratches the surface) and none of them are safe (theoretically speaking, there are some DC would never kill off). Some of them are dispatched in a shockingly violent fashion and that felt refreshing, not knowing exactly who would make it to the end.

Gunn has absolute control over the tone and the style he’s going for. Each character looked like a superhero from a different era, which was deliberate, and Harley’s look has been paired back to her classic red and black colour scheme. There are also some very cool stylistic flourishes elsewhere. For example, for the chapter headings and time stamps, Gunn uses materials in the scene to spell out the words – sometimes these were hard to read but I appreciated the idea.

Robbie’s Harley is always the star of the show and she once again steals every scene she’s in. She has so much unhinged chaotic energy and I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I also enjoyed Elba as the reluctant leader Bloodsport and his banter with Cena’s Peacemaker over who is a more formidable opponent. King Shark is a fantastic addition, his need to feed on humans is very funny (and violent), and there’s a running gag with Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) that cracked me up every time. Most of the characters have the opportunity for comedy, with the exception of Flag – who is as bland as ever – and Ratcatcher II, my favourite newcomer. She is the heart of the film and it was like a breath of fresh air having such a nice character to get invested in. And she has a pet rat named Sebastian!

I cannot overstate how much fun The Suicide Squad is. I highly recommend it!

In cinemas from Friday 30th July

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: Netflix Film Review

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Like millions of others around the globe, I was shocked and upset about the death of Chadwick Boseman in August, and while seeing him on screen makes me sad because it reminds me he’s gone, I found some solace in the fact that he delivers an almighty final performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

The film is set in a recording studio in Chicago on one hot and sweaty afternoon in 1927. Ma Rainey (Viola Davis), the fearless diva known as the Mother of the Blues, is running late and her band await her arrival in the rehearsal room where tensions arise between hot-headed trumpeter Levee (Boseman), bandleader Cutler (Colman Domingo), bassist Slow Drag (Michael Potts), and pianist Toledo (Glynn Turman). Levee ruffles feathers by flirting with Ma’s girlfriend and making his desire to play his own music and start his own band known.

I hadn’t done any reading up on this before I settled down to watch it and within 15-20 minutes it became immediately obvious that this was based on a play – one by August Wilson, I discovered later. A good chunk of the film is spent in the downstairs rehearsal room where the band spends more time bickering than rehearsing and then the action moves upstairs to the recording room once Ma eventually shows up. Levee has a huge amount of dialogue as he goes off on rants about various grievances and verbally spurs with the band about all sorts. It was interesting to a point but I was glad when Ma arrived to change up the dynamic.

The performances are the main draw here and I expect to see Boseman and Davis’ names come up during awards season. This is Davis like you’ve never seen her before. She is practically unrecognisable as Ma thanks to the weight she gained for the role, plus the heavy make-up and gold teeth she wears, and the fact she is drenched in sweat. Ma is fierce, determined, and refuses to make any compromises – things have to be exactly her way, much to the displeasure of her white manager Irvin (Jeremy Shamos) and producer Sturdyvant (Jonny Coyne). I considered her the lead since she’s the title character, but she’s surprisingly not in it as much as I expected.

Knowing what we know about Boseman now, it’s truly incredible that he managed to pull off such a barnstorming performance in his last-ever film role. There is so much anger and rage in Levee from past trauma and it requires so much energy to go off his rants. He is a man on the edge and out of control and Boseman throws his all into the role. I’ll be amazed if he doesn’t get honoured posthumously for this.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom takes a while to get going but really hits its stride when Ma shows up – the recording scenes are a fascinating watch – and from there it builds to a shocking finale. Definitely worth checking out.

Streaming on Netflix from Friday 18th December

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rachel Weisz, Timothee Chalamet & Letitia Wright at the 2019 BAFTAs: My pics

Tonight soooo many film stars hit the red carpet at the Royal Albert Hall in London for the annual BAFTAs. I was lucky to be on the red carpet and inside the winners’ press conference, and here are my pics.

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Widows: Film Review

I’m a big fan of Steve McQueen‘s previous films – like Hunger, Shame and 12 Years A Slave – so I was excited to see him take on more mainstream, blockbuster fare, and the incredible cast he recruited for Widows was another big plus. Thankfully, Widows is just what I hoped it would be – a thrilling heist drama.

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Top Films for November 2018

Tomorrow is the beginning of November which means we have lots of new films to look forward to! Here are the ones I’m most excited for.

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Michelle Rodriguez and Daniel Kaluuya at the Widows LFF premiere

Tonight the 2018 London Film Festival kicked off with Widows, its opening night gala, and to celebrate, director Steve McQueen hit the red carpet in London’s Leicester Square with castmembers including Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez and Daniel Kaluuya.

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Films I’m excited to see at the 2018 London Film Festival

The 2018 London Film Festival starts today! Woohoo! As always, there is a crazy amount of films being screened over the next 12 days, so here’s just a small selection of titles I’m most excited to see.

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BAFTA 2017 winners’ conference: My pics

Tom Holland

Tom Holland

Tonight it was the BAFTAs and I was there, at the winners’ press conference which meant all the prize winners came down to chat to us and I took the opportunity to take plenty of pics of stars like Emma Stone, Tom Holland, Viola Davis and Dev Patel.

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Fences: Film Review

fences

I had been wanting to see Fences for ages because it was so infuriating writing awards show coverage without being fully qualified to make an opinion but now I have seen it and can officially say Viola Davis and Denzel Washington deserve all the awards recognition coming their way.

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Top Films for February

20th

You know what time it is! It’s the start of February which means it’s time to look forward to the cinema releases this month brings! There are quite a few awards season favourites finally coming our way as well as some high-profile sequels, such as Fifty Shades Darker, which I have deliberately missed off (I’m not that bothered about seeing it).

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