Something strange happened last night…

Having previously purchased tickets for it, I found myself at the theater last night watching Suicide Squad for the second time in 72 hours. And I noticed a marked difference between the two showings.

[Many thanks to Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg and the folks at Salt Lake Comic Con for hosting this little get together, BTW: a fun time, as always.]

At the last-minute on Monday, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a pre-screening of Suicide Squad in Salt Lake City, and posted my review HERE. Now, I’m sure everyone has heard of the incredible breadth and depth of the critical reception for the film. I’m sure you’ve also heard about the incredible backlash against the critics because of it.

suicide-squad

I hadn’t thought my review was anything special, because I, like so many others, pointed out the flaws in the production and whatnot, but perhaps I wasn’t quite so hyperbolic about it all. I did, in fact, put very early on in my review this simple statement:

it didn’t suck.

That single statement (along with some others in my review) apparently put me so far out of the “critical” norm that I wondered if I had watched the same movie as the other critics. (I even felt the need to explain myself and my methodology as a critic in a subsequent post, about how I thought I did things differently.)

Now, these pre-screenings are usually populated with press, “special guests,” contest winners, etc; not necessarily the money spending public who may be really looking forward to a certain film. That means that audience reaction is usually muted as the movie unspools.

Last night was different. Vastly different. Populated by paying fans, the crowd laughed (en masse) at the places the director intended, gasped where they were supposed to, but there was never a groan or ugh or any derogatory noise made throughout the film. It did, for all intents and purposes, hit every beat for the target audience that one could suppose it was designed to.

There was even a little whimper of sympathy for Harley Quinn as she sat on a cop car in the rain after a pivotal event. They felt sorry for her.

That means that they identified with her.

That’s what actors are supposed to do: make the audience care.

Suicide Squad did that last night.

Margot Robbie did it with Harley Quinn.

Will Smith did it with Deadshot.

So, while the shortcomings of the film still exist–the story is more than a bit patched together, often rushed, sometimes absent–overall, it lived up entirely to my final conclusion from my initial review:

Overall, Suicide Squad is a fun movie, and I’ll recommend it. It is definitely a departure from the Dark Knight universe, even though they occupy the same dimension. It feels different because it is different.

Right now, that’s something the DC movie universe desperately needs.

DC does need a hit. After Batman V Superman, it needs one bad. Some people may not consider Suicide Squad that hit, but I can’t categorize it as a miss. Did director David Ayer hit a home-run? No. A clean double, perhaps, setting up the really promising Wonder Woman to drive the DCEU home in early 2017.

[For a more detailed look at my original review of the film, click the link in the story above.]

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