Our movie critic Paul McGuire Grimes talks to us about the release of Suicide Squad this week plus a new show on Apple TV+, called Corman.
THE SUICIDE SQUAD (In theaters, HBO Max)
James Gunn jumps comic book worlds from Marvel to DC with his new iteration of The Suicide Squad. This is the second Suicide Squad movie following the first film from 2016. Some of those characters have returned like Viola Davis’, Amanda Waller, who’s the mastermind behind gathering this group of super villains together. We learn that follow prisoner Bloodsport (Idris Elba) is a world class marksman, and the one who put Superman in the ICU. Now Amanda can use him by offering up a tradeoff regarding his prison time and a deal regarding his daughter. Bloodsport is to head up the Suicide Squad with Peacemaker, Harley Quinn, King Shark, and a few others to find The Thinker (Peter Capaldi). He’s the man behind an alien technology known as Project Starfish.
His characters come with big personalities many of which clash with one another. They’ve all been in prison with some pent-up aggression that needs to be released, and Gunn goes for it every step of the way. He’s unapologetically violent and not afraid to have blood spraying all over the place both viciously with its war themes or comedically when it comes to King Shark ripping characters in half.
There is an abundance of flash and style, but James Gunn adds an emotional thread of fathers and daughters and mothers and sons with the characters of Bloodsport, Ratcatcher 2, and Polka Dot Man. Oddly enough, I didn’t quite feel these explored enough to really connect with them enough throughout. Maybe if they were utilized consistently throughout, I would have felt that drive, but it seemed to be treated a little too much like storytelling elements to bookend the film.
The Suicide Squad will play well with comic book fans, but casual movie goers may be a harder sell with this material.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
Joseph Gordon-Levitt not only stars in Mr. Corman, but he’s also one of the writers, directors, and the creator of the new AppleTV+ series. He stars as Josh Corman, a fifth-grade history teacher. The series picks up on the first week of school with Mr. Corman having a conversation with his students about being lucky or unlucky in life. This existential quandary comes into his home life as he starts feeling a quarter life crisis wondering where his life is going and what role will he play in it. In later episodes, we learn he was formerly engaged and had a musical career with his ex-fiancé. He also has a fractured relationship with his mom and the rest of his family.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has written himself a dark and depressing character. Some people will relate with how he deals with panic attacks, anxiety, and life stressors. It feels mostly grounded in a truthful, real place but it’s a fine balance to center a whole show around this type of character without a clear vision of where it’s going and whether he’ll come out of his personal depression.
The series feels like experimental storytelling for Gordon-Levitt to test out using a mixed media approach. There’s animation, a musical number between him and his mom, a comic-book style fight sequence, and an episode that feels like an alternate reality of what his future could have looked like. I was missing a cohesive vision to keep the series moving forward.
Some episodes of Mr. Corman worked for me, while others felt a bit scattered and missing the mark. I wonder with Joseph Gordon-Levitt wearing too many creative hats that he’s juggling too many ideas both with the storytelling and the creative vision to keep up emotional drive within the series.
RATING: 2.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS