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Movies I Love: Suicide Squad

I’ve been hearing a lot of negative reviews about Suicide Squad. I haven’t actually read the reviews because I generally don’t. I know Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 38% in their critical reviews and I have to wonder if they watched the same movie I did. Obviously, like the title of the post says, I loved the movie. I thought it was an uncharacteristic success for DC in terms of comic book movies and they did right by one of my all-time favorite characters, Harley Quinn.

For those unfamiliar with the premise of Suicide Squad, Amanda Waller, a high-ranking government agency, puts together a team of supervillains who have been captured or incarcerated, sticks mini bombs in their necks so they’ll behave or be blown up, and then sends them on missions against other metahumans that have a high likelihood of getting them killed. As you might have guessed it from the mini bombs mention, Amanda Waller is the queen of Not A Good Person. She’s ruthless and has little regard for human life if it doesn’t suit her needs. She’s actually more of a villain than the villains she controls. In the comics, she’s actually the cause of a lot of bad things that happen in the DC universe.

The team in the movie consists of Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Diablo, Boomerang, and Killer Croc. Each villain is given a mini intro on who they are and how they got caught, usually by Batman but the Flash makes an appearance too. (I have to say the DCU movie version of the Flash looks adorkable and I want to pinch his cheeks.) The team is lead by Colonel Rick Flag who works with/is in love with the human form of the Enchantress. Flag has a whole bunch of military soldiers with him who mostly end up as cannon fodder but he also brings along Katana.

The movie gives primary focus and character development to Deadshot (played by Will Smith), Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie), and Enchantress (played by Cara Delevingne). For those not familiar with the characters, Deadshot is an assassin with perfect accuracy who gets caught because his daughter stops him from shooting Batman. Harley Quinn is a former psychiatrist that fell in love with the Joker. Originally Harley’s character, back when she was first introduced in the comics, was there just for sex appeal, but recent incarnations have done a lot to really flesh out the character and make her into a dominable force (especially when paired with Poison Ivy). She’s probably the ballsiest of all the Suicide Squad and her main weapons are a baseball bat and 50 caliber pistol. Finally, there’s Enchantress. Archeologist June Moone stumbled into an ancient gravesite and released the deity the Enchantress, who now inhabits her body. Waller has got the Enchantress’s heart locked away, which is the only way to control her. Flag and Moone are lovers but Moone hates the evil being inside of her and would rather die than let the Enchantress continue using Moone’s body for her nefarious plans.

Without giving too much away, the Suicide Squad is assembled when a metahuman attacks Midtown City and they are sent in to stop it. It’s not an easy job. They fail their first objective, when the person they’re sent to rescue gets taken by the metahuman and they’re left with the choice of walk away or keep fighting. The movie did a great job of weaving the characters together so that they come together as a team and even though the Joker is in the movie, he’s second fiddle to Harley Quinn. She’s madly (emphasis on ‘mad’) in love with him, but the scenes with him are there to define her character, not his. Obviously, the group bands together to stop the evil metahuman, saves the day and…. get sent back to the prison hole they came from with 10 years off their sentences because Waller’s a dick. I’m not going to give away the final fight, but for those who have seen it, you can see why I love this version of Harley Quinn so much because she is amazing.

I have yet to actually talk to someone who’s seen the movie and didn’t like it, though, given the reception for Ghostbusters, I can obviously guess why. This isn’t the Suicide Squad of your childhood (assuming, unlike me, you had access to comic books as a kid) and it might not be the Suicide Squad that you’re expecting. That doesn’t make it bad, it just makes it different and judged on its own, it’s a good different. There’s a lot to like in it. I know people who don’t like the movie because Deadshot in the comics wasn’t black. Will Smith rocked that role. You really felt for him and he was awesome. There are people who don’t like it because Harley’s dressed provocatively. In the movie, she’s literally unaware that her clothes are anything but what she wants to wear. There’s a scene of her changing in front of a bunch of entranced guys and her only comment when she finally realizes that they’re staring at her is a confused “What?”

If you like action films with explosions and guns and humor and superpowers, you’ll like this movie. If you only accept Suicide Squad and its characters as what they were in some comic bible, you probably won’t. Your loss on that. I, however, would be happy with a dozen more movies of Harley Quinn & Deadshot & Pals.

Is it bad that the movie makes me want Harley and Deadshot to hook up? Is that some kind of comic blasphemy? We’ll find out once the fanfic starts rolling in.


Jenna on Worldbuilding Religion

As part of the Queer Science Fiction group‘s annual Worldbuilding week, I wrote a post on building religions for fiction.

How many religions exist in the history of the world? Likely you’ll think of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam–the Abrahamic trio–or Buddhism and Hinduism. You might be familiar with Shinto, the varying flavors of paganism and Wicca, or the old Greek, Norse, and Celtic pantheons. According to best estimates, there are somewhere over 4,200 religions in the world. As a writer, you might be interested in adding one more. So, where do you start?

There’s a bit of discussion in the Facebook group, and I definitely recommend checking out the group if you’re a fan of Queer Sci-Fi. There’s a lot of great discussions to join in if you’re interested.


Movies I Love: Ghostbusters (2016)

I just got back from the movies and I have to say, all my fears of the new Ghostbusters reboot not living up to its predecessor? FEARS GONE! Whoosh! Out the window! (Like many other things in the movie.)

I’ve been a bad pop culture fan and haven’t seen anything since, I think, Crimson Peak, but this was definitely a worthy choice to dip my toe back into giving the entertainment industry lots of my money. Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones rocked it. There wasn’t a single moment where I was like “this is a totally implausible thing for a woman to do”, which, as a woman, is an incredibly bizarre thing to worry about but I blame all the dude-bro bashing pre-release. These women nailed it. Kristen Wiig’s character Erin was all up in that science shit that went way over my head because I stopped studying Physics around force maps and gravitational pull, but she rocked the shit out of the “trying to be a respectable scientist but secret nerd at heart” vibe. And Melissa McCarthy’s Abby was just out there, no-holds-bards nerding it up and loving every second of it. Also, her interactions with the delivery boy Bennie were hysterical. I love Bennie.

Why do people say there were no male roles in the movie? There was Bennie the delivery boy, and Chris Hemsworth’s Kevin was a riot. It’s hard to reconcile in my brain that Kevin and Thor are played by the same person. I loved the tour guide in the beginning (Gilbert? It’s not on IMDB.) and Rowan was just this hysterical brand of crazy that made me kind of want to take him home and feed him soup but also lock him in a padded cell for his own safety. (Or in my basement so he could build me made cool shit that hopefully would not cause the apocalypse.)

But really? My favorites? Patty and Holtzmann. Kate McKinnon’s Holtzmann instantly pinged me as an eccentric lesbian scientist and I love it. I hope they make her sexuality cannon. Or at least bisexual since she did think Kevin was pretty, but not nearly as much as Wiig’s character. I loved Holtzmann so, so much. And then there’s Patty, played by Leslie Jones. Poor Patty, who just wants to do her job as security on the subway and maybe get people to stop and recognize her as a person now and then, just to say hi. But at the same time she was tough and strong and probably the most practical of the four. She’s not a scientist, but the way she spouts of historical facts of New York City is just wonderful.

They brought back the old tech. They brought back the theme song and the logo. There were tons of cameos by the cast of the original movie, but that was just a side. They really took the story of Ghostbusters and they made it their own thing. They made it new and awesome and everything I could have wanted. And they didn’t make it a story about girl Ghostbusters. They made it a story about Ghostbusters. Gender need not apply.


Movies I’m Looking Forward To: July 2016 Edition

July is all about beloved franchises for me, both hitting late in the month.

Star Trek Beyond – July 22

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Trekkie. I’ve watched all of the classic TV shows—Original Series, Next Generation, Deep Space 9, and Voyager—and all of the movies. Basically, if it has the Star Trek name on it, I’ll give it a shot. I even watched a bit of Enterprise, though I couldn’t really get into that one but I might give it another shot if it’s ever on streaming. There is no doubt I’ll be in the theater for this one either opening day or close to it. I’m in love with the movie reboots. I love how they’ve veered from canon into their own unique thing. I love how the aliens are alien and gorgeous and so real. I’m particularly interested in seeing what the story is with the white and black alien girl in this is, especially if she gets to stick around. You can never have too many badass females lurking in the crew.

Jason Bourne – July 29

I can’t get enough of Matt Damon running around being all super spy, which is good because it seems like the studio can’t get enough of making Bourne movies. I’ve watched all four (and own the set). I even liked the one with Jeremy Renner, which I felt was a good follow-up. Bourne’s become sort of the modern-day American Bond. He’s rough, stealthy, and sure of what he wants. He’s a man on a mission. I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s up to next.


Movies I Love: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

I’ve been pretty lax about going to the movies lately (I haven’t even seen Captain America: Civil War yet! What kind of nerd am I!?) but OnDemand movies are my friend. Now, I love me some Jane Austen but I’m not so keen on zombie movies. There are three I like (Zombieland, Warm Bodies, and Shaun of the Dead) and the rest of the genre gets ignored, but I found this a surprisingly good mashup.

Lily James is wonderful as an action-packed Lizzie Bennett, reminding me so much of Keira Knightly in the older Pride and Prejudice movie that I often forgot that James was not, in fact, Keira Knightly. Sam Riley was an interesting choice for Mr. Darcy. My immediate first impression was “he’s not handsome enough to be Darcy” and then I smacked myself because Darcy’s not supposed to be handsome. Riley does play the rather war-minded Colonel Darcy very well and I was immediately taken in by how convincing a soldier he made. This is a setting where survival hangs on a very thin balance so handsomeness need not apply when good fighting skills apply—an opinion Lizzie most certainly agrees with.

The movie handled the mix of old and new very well. The core story of Pride and Prejudice is all there—Jane and Mr. Bingley’s romance, the love-hate between Lizzie and Darcy, Mr. Collins (played as a complete fop by the amazing and surprisingly apt Matt Smith), and the illustrious Lady Catherine de Bough, who in this version is a swordswoman of Amazonian prowess. There’s all the wit and posturing of the original story, mixed with murder and mystery as Lizzie and Darcy try to figure out why the zombies have suddenly become smarter and more organized.

I think one of my favorite things about the movie was watching the Bennett girls absolutely destroy any attacking zombies while still dressed as proper ladies. Knife sheaths as garter belts? Yes, please.