suicide squad.

Obvious spoiler alert.

Let me start off by saying I liked Suicide Squad. I may be in the minority, but I’d give it a solid 3.5 gun emojis out of 5. The acting and casting was incredible (although I’m never sure Cara Delevingne is the right choice for… anything, really), visually the movie looked great, and it didn’t take itself too seriously, which I think is a big downfall for a lot of DC movies. They’re not willing to make fun of themselves (which, when you’re making a movie about superheroes, literally giant men in tights, you need to be able to laugh about it).

But obviously there were things that needed improvement. That’s not a surprise – the movie got 27% on Rotten Tomatoes and is being demolished by critics and movie-watchers. So let’s discuss these necessary improvements, shall we?

The storyline leaves a lot (and I do mean a lot) to be desired. We spent much of the first half of the movie digging into the Squad’s background. It didn’t do much to set up the climax or further the storyline, and it just felt very repetitive – “Here’s this villain, this is why he’s bad, this is why I want him.”  By the time we got through that, the actual story of the movie felt incredibly rushed and not well executed. I hate to be that asshole who compares DC and Marvel, because they’re different universes, different stories, and different characters but DC should have taken a page from Marvel’s book on this one. Marvel decided, “Hey, we should do an Avengers movie. But how are we going to properly introduce all of those different, important characters while still making a good movie with an interesting story? Oh, I know! We’ll make a series of individual movies showcasing each major character before we put out a group movie – that way the audience is already familiar with each character and story arc, and we won’t be playing catchup for half of The Avengers. Brilliant!” That is what DC should have done, because if I was a brand new fan and this was the first superhero movie I decided to watch, I still wouldn’t know who the heck these people are. For example, if I didn’t already know that The Joker was the most sadistic, psychotic, unfeeling villain of all time, my impression of him from this movie would be that he is a socially awkward gangster who needs to visit a dermatologist. These are things you need introduce before you make a Squad movie. You can’t take for granted that the audience knows your characters.

While we’re hovering around him, The Joker’s appearance in the movie was horribly underwhelming. I might be in the minority here once again, but I’m excited for a sequel because I can’t wait to see what Jared Leto actually does with the character. I liked what little we did see, and I want more. He was so under-used in this movie though, it’s criminal. Like I said, you barely get a sense of who he is. Is he a gangster? What’s his endgame? What does he want to do? Does he actually love Harley Quinn? What’s his beef with Batman? Oh, and what’s the deal with Batman? Is he good or bad? Is his identity even a secret anymore? WHAT IS GOING ON?

The more I think about it, I really do think the only problem with this movie was that they didn’t have any real lead-up for it. They just kind of threw it together and assumed their audience knew what the heck they were talking about. Newbies to the genre might have questions like who is Deadshot? Why’s he so angry all the time? What’s his history with Batman? Seems pretty long. Does he know who The Joker is? What about Captain Boomerang? He has a silly name, why does he let people call him that? And what did the Enchantress even want? As the main villain in this movie, her plan seemed pretty vague. Also, if this is a movie about a group of bad people who do really bad stuff, why is breaking a store window and stealing an ugly purse the worst thing we see any of them do?

All in all, I did enjoy this movie and it’s actually making me look forward to seeing another DC movie, which isn’t something I thought I’d say  again, since Christopher Nolan’s Batman is over. But I’m coming away from it with more questions than answers, and since this isn’t LOST and no one is stranded on a weird, magical island, it’s not okay that I’m leaving the theater thoroughly confused. Hopefully the clearly insinuated sequel, or possibly the upcoming Justice League movie will clear up some things that we’re all wondering about this movie. And hopefully we’ll get to see a lot more of Harley because let’s be honest – she was the best part.

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Hedley: 10 Years

Today, I might get a little personal. I’ve been neck-deep in nostalgia in the last few weeks with some old friends, and I am loving it. Last month was the 10 year anniversary of my favourite band’s first album. Today, October 05 2015 is the 10 year anniversary of the first time I saw them live, AKA the best day of my life and something I’d been waiting for over a year to have the chance to do. In the last decade, they’ve put out 5 albums (and are currently working on LP6) and I’ve seen them every time they’ve been in my province. I’ve met them, I’ve had late-night chat session with them, I’ve had the insane opportunities to listen to rough cuts of songs before they’ve been released, and I have had the absolute joy and pleasure of meeting some of the most amazing humans because of this band. Today, I want to talk about Hedley.

I never thought that a band would have so much impact on my life, but they have. Somehow, they push me to be a better person, and to become someone worth being. They remind me that no matter who you are, you can have an influence on someone or something. They’ve taught me how to actively seek happiness instead of just waiting around on it. But I think the biggest thing they’ve taught me is to just be yourself. Honestly, truly, fuck anyone who doesn’t like you, just be you. And when I talk about these lessons and values they’ve placed in my life, I don’t just mean that they’re lyrics have inspired me that much. That’s the thing about discovering your favourite band before they “make it” – you actually have the chance to get to know them because they have like, 100 other fans. You spend late nights on their fan forum and they begin to recognize you – first by your username, then your photo, then they just know you.

But in all honesty, the fact that those 4 guys know my name isn’t even the best part. The best part is the community they’ve created, and the friendships I’ve built because of those 4 guys. This band is one of the reasons that my best friend and I initially bonded during lonely nights chatting on MSN Messenger until 4AM. I have phone numbers in my contact list stretching from Surrey, BC to London, ON to who-knows-where in New Brunswick even thought I’ve never been to those places, because I’ve had the opportunity to meet other fans from across the country. I’ve made some genuine, lifelong friends and I don’t know if I otherwise would have ever met half of these people. Hedley did that for me.

There’s so much I need to thank these guys for – friendships forged, memories made and life lessons learned. They are always there for me in a way that I can’t explain. They somehow seem to always know what to say and when it needs to be said. I am so genuinely proud of these 4 boys for growing from a shitty garage band to an amazing, refined talent, and I’m insanely lucky for having them to grow up with. They’ve challenged and shaped me in a really weird way and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Remember you matter.
Remember they don’t

-jwh

intent vs words.

The biggest problem that I see with so many people having the opportunity to share their voice on the Internet is that they often get criticized for things that they never actually said. Tone has always been something that’s hard to convey via text – from junior high arguments being started by a sarcastic remark on MSN Messenger, to public figures getting decimated in the news for a tweet that was meant to be a joke. Before you attack a person for something they said (or something you think they said), I would recommend that you take a moment to consider what they meant by what was said. Sometimes, there’s a difference. The speakers’ intent isn’t always reflected in their choice of words – or sometimes the audience chooses to project drama and negativity onto what the speaker was trying to get across. And in a world where you need to get your point across in 140 characters or less, your intent often gets lost.

This is something that’s often been at the forefront of my mind. I’ve always been pretty good at reading between the lines and understanding the thought process behind what someone was saying. In high school, I got caught in the middle of arguments between friends a lot because I was able to grasp both sides when they didn’t understand each other. I got high marks in English and Drama classes because I could see past written words and delve into how the author wanted their work to be read and understood. And more recently, I’m able to sympathize with public figures who say things that might not be as “politically correct” as our society demands as of late. In fact, this whole post was inspired by recent tweets from a singer named Jennel Garcia.

jennel

Jennel wasn’t implying that social anxieties aren’t real – obviously that would be an ignorant and plain ol’ incorrect statement to make. However, Jennel has a fair point: People, especially young people, use labels like “anxiety”, “depression” and “mental illness” as a crutch. These conditions are very real, and can be crippling – no one is denying that. While I know this and have experience with it, I also know that not everyone who says they have a mental illness actually has one. “Anxiety” is not a synonym for “shyness”, “depression” is not the same as “having a bad week”, and “mental illness” is certainly not parallel to “feeling off for a little while”. People say things like, “Oh my god, I’m so awkward, I don’t know if I can deal with this party,” because they’d rather be at home on Tumblr than go to the party. Honey, you’re “awkward” because you’d rather experience life through fanfics and text posts than actual social experiences. I know it can be hard – I mean hell, I’m 23 years old and I still don’t like showing up to social events alone because I’m afraid of feeling – you guessed it – awkward. But you’re never going to get past it if you don’t do it. Just do it.

I felt really sorry for Jennel while I was scrolling through the replies to that tweet. People didn’t understand that she wasn’t being ignorant or rude, she was trying to call out the fakers and say, “Hey, it’s not cool that you’re taking this very real thing that effects a lot of people, and using it as a trendy accessory.” If the people who saw that tweet and reacted negatively had taken a minute to see the tweets that came after, or the types of things she was replying to regarding the topic, they would have realized that she wasn’t being malicious, and in fact is very passionate about having honest conversations about mental illness.

I just think it’s something we should keep in mind – people deserve a chance to explain themselves. People deserve more than 140 characters to voice their opinion, but since that’s the platform we use the most, maybe as an audience we need to take a breather and think about the intentions behind what people are saying – most of the time these statements aren’t being made by bad or ignorant people, so why are we so quick to assume they’re being bad and ignorant? I’m sure we all know what it’s like to have something we’ve said taken out of context, and get a lot of shit for it. We don’t like it, so maybe stop doing it to other people, okay? Okay. I’m glad we’ve come to an understanding, People of The Internet.

(Hoo boy, I wish it was that easy to come to an understanding with the People of The Internet…)