Movie Review: Suicide Squad and Your Distrust of Others (Oh, and Star Trek Beyond, too)

And here goes another unpopular opinion: Suicide Squad was as disappointingly mediocre as Batman v Superman and had all of the charisma of a wet paper bag in a humid car trunk on a 3 hour drive.

And, why? I wanted to like this movie. I went in with all of the expectation of a kid at Christmas, albeit a dark, grim, gallows-humor-themed Christmas, and was again reminded that, as of right now, DC and Warner Brothers have little to give to the girls and boys than coal… which is on fire… that melts the Christmas stockings, which, of course, are super flammable anyway. One of my biggest problems with this movie continues to be the number of punch lines set-up and then left dangling. A pink unicorn was perfectly in place to save the life of one of the more bizarre characters, but was switched out for a wad of money. Why have the character make a big deal about the unicorn but not go for the easy punchline?

Anyway, my wife and I may have made a strategically poor choice seeing Star Trek Beyond right before viewing Suicide Squad. Star Trek was an exciting romp through a brightly lit, colorful world full of interesting characters who were more interested in development than in shooting one another. This team of explorers was able to plumb the depths of their respective characters in more fulfilling ways, pairing up in unexpected ways for more clever interactions. The music was well placed and the humor impeccably timed. Each character needed to find himself or herself by the end of the film, and each one did, coming to different conclusions that fit their true natures. And I didn’t even mind the “mystery box” reveal or somewhat predictable plot line because I had fun. If it weren’t for the violence in this movie, I might recommend it for kids, because of the journey and underlying hopeful message of the film. As it is, I would recommend this for preteens and up, with parental supervision.

I cannot say the same for Suicide Squad. To be honest, this film probably would have fared better if they had gone ahead and pushed for the “R” rating. Watching a bunch of hardened criminals watching their language and trying to be cautious with their violence, if not their threats, made for an odd movie. And these films seem unwilling to acknowledge the the whole idea of costumed heroes and villains is, inherently, a little silly. Why try so hard to make things overly realistic when a clown girl with a baseball bat is fighting spooky space monsters next to a man named “Captain Boomerang?” What bothers me the most about the current state of the DC movie universe (DC being the Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman cast of characters) is its total inability to trust anyone… ever. Sure, this movie was about lowlifes and criminals coming together to get something done… but Guardians of the Galaxy did that… better. In a way, the movie tries to get across that the “bad guys” in their sociopathic distrust of other humans are fundamentally right in the way they think – each of the non-superpowered humans in this film lie, cheat, withhold, and murder with abandon in a way that seems to surprise even the “bad guys.”

The conflict for me between these two movies is their underlying message. Star Trek aims high with the, “If we work together, anything is possible, though we will struggle.” Which adequately sums up much of life as we know it. Suicide Squad, on the other hand seems to say, “Don’t trust anyone, especially authority, especially ‘normal’ people, and always keep your finger on the trigger.” It’s a hopeless message that actually speaks to the generation coming up behind me. This current spirit of distrust and hopelessness will only get worse unless the generation that has the authority chooses to use that authority for the better – to prove their trustworthiness against the perceived odds.

While it may be wise to harbor some natural distrust of the sinful nature of human beings, what kind of life is it to raise a child to believe that sinful nature is all there is to humanity?

And as for a movie that will inspire young girls and young women to aspire to greatness… go watch Star Trek Beyond. Men and women equally dash into the fray, take one on the chin, and have to make face tough choices. Both are equally admirable in their bravery, competency, and intelligence. Suicide Squad, however, thinks women are objects, or fundamentally untrustworthy, or better seen and not heard. Just because women are included in a team does not mean they are represented fairly or well.

So, in the end, have you as a parent discussed issues surrounding trust and hope? What do your conversations at home concerning the news, current events, and others in your neighborhood sound like? Do you teach a necessary, fundamental hope? Or do you focus on the worry, the despair, and the pain?

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