Movies, Writing, and Diagnostics

I went to see Suicide Squad a couple weeks back, and like everybody else who wasn’t completely addled by adolescent hormones and Margot Robbie’s hot pants, I was disappointed.

Let’s be honest. Whittling several decades of comics canon down to a two-hour movie has to be almost as bad as writing a query letter. And, Suicide Squad didn’t do it well.

There are a lot of characters in this movie. And most of them are developed waaaay beyond what their actual function IN THIS PARTICULAR MOVIE requires. Some characters–like the divers who just happen to be there at the right moment–don’t need to be there, at all. Divers? I mean, you have Killer Croc. And getting to the point where Killer Croc steps in? Tedious. Unnecessary. Other characters–Killer Croc is just one of them–clutter up an entire move so they’ll be there for ONE scene.

And plot?

Which one?

Deadshot and his kid? Harley Quinn and the Joker? Or… uhm, the soldier (whose name I’ve already forgotten) and his little love/hate triangle?

There are three movies worth of plot crammed into Suicide Squad, and they’re all under developed. The main characters are also underdeveloped. I’d probably watch all three movies, if they really delved into the central characters, but here… None of them are really satisfying.

The main plot in this movie should have been the soldier. Do you save the girl… or stop her? Yup. The movie found a way to do both. **Groan** Talk about pulling punches! And anyway, if I’ve already forgotten the main character’s name, it can’t be a good sign.

I could see the Harley Quinn origin story making a hell of a stand-alone movie. But here… it’s a lot of exposition and leverage wedging it in. Her role in this movie? Aside from sex appeal and a little bit of cheer-leading? I don’t know. Sitting around waiting to be rescued? When the Joker does finally rescue her… I believe the word for that is deus ex machina.

She takes a break in the middle of the film to go chase plot bunnies. It’s okay. She’s back in time for the final scene. (Because she thinks her boyfriend’s dead. Not because she’s experienced growth of any kind.)

And Deadshot… well, his whole thing is basically an extended pat-the-dog moment. I could have lived without it.

So, what did I learn?

Editing counts.

It’s better to take the time to really develop fewer characters than to have a whole dirty dozen cardboard cutouts.

Cute kids, stray dogs, and sex appeal can only go so far. None of them constitute an entire character.

And guess what? All those mistakes that I’ve been making, and working my ass off trying to fix? I’m not the only one.

And that’s the best part of the whole thing. I’m  not the only one who crams three books worth of story into one book worth of pages. I’m not the only one with way too many characters, and way too little development. I’m not the only one who can’t ever choose which way to go.

Apparently, real life Hollywood does the same thing… but they have the CGI to get the whole mess into a theater near me.


  1. Reply

    Well put! That Harley Quinn movie- that I’d like to see, hotpants and all, 😉 And what was with the talking heads for half an hour at the start there? Or the pointless prisoner abuse?

    • Reply

      Ugh… don’t get me going on talking heads. It was like the narrated Cliff’s Notes. If there’s a voice-over? Cut it!!! Not sure I can separate the pointless prisoner abuse from all the rest of the pointless violence in the movie, though.

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