Hey there Pulsers, Penny here again, and I’m taking a quick break between editions of my annual Wrestlemania countdown to bring you a review of the latest DC-DVD Animated Film, (and the 10th in the New 52niverse films), “Suicide Squad; Hell To Pay”.
First off, let’s get this clear right off the bat; while SSHTP does have a few flaws and I have some complaints about it, it’s still LIGHT years better than the last two DC Direct animated movies, and DEFINITELY a damn sight better than the live-action Suicide Squad movie. After the VERY poorly received failure that Gotham By Gaslight and Batman & Harley Quinn were, THIS movie gets the track record of the DC Direct to DVD Animated Movies back on track. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s pretty damned good and it redeems DC/Warner for those last two monstrousities. It’s the Suicide Squad movie the live action film SHOULD have been.
So the plot centres around a Get Out of Hell Free card, (no seriously, it LITERALLY says “Get Out Of Hell Free” on it), that Amanda Waller sends Task Force X after because she’s apparently got 6 months to live and knows she ain’t going to be on the Up Escalator. The problem is that Zoom is somehow NOT dead after taking a bullet through the brain in Flashpoint and he too wants the card. The OTHER problem is that Vandal Savage HAS the card.
So for this movie our cast of characters is as follows;
Task Force X/Suicide Squad; Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Bronze Tiger, Killer Frost, Copperhead, and Captain Boomerang.
Vandal Savage’s People; Scandal Savage, Knockout, and a coerced Professor Pyg.
Zoom’s Team; Silver Banshee and Blockbuster.
I’m not going to do a scene by scene review as I have in the past because, despite any of you used to my reviews knowing they come with spoilers, this movie is good enough to want you to watch it MOSTLY unspoiled. So instead I’m just going to focus on what I most like and on my gripes, trying to be as minimally spoilery as possible.
Upsides; First things first, the cast is excellent, including those performing double or triple duty. Christian Slater is completely on point as Floyd “Deadshot” Laughton. He does the character right, knowing when to act cold and unfeeling and when to go all-out emotionally to sell what’s happening. He carries the role with the perfect balance of “Professional killer proud of his exceptional skill” and “father full of regrets for failing his daughter with his career choices”. Vanessa Williams is understated and intimidating as Amanda Waller, letting the character’s anger and contempt for her coerced criminal flunkies seethe through and bubble mostly under the surface. Tara Strong is as always a perfectly acceptable Harley. The rest of the cast does an admirable job. I have no complaints about any of the cast. I especially like C. Thomas Howell returning as Zoom from Flashpoint.
The story is mostly well-written, cohesive, and makes sense in it’s own narrative. You understand what the stakes of the plot are, and they feel real and important. And I love how Bronze Tiger is given an actual backstory and allowed to shine here, to be a vital piece of the plot, as opposed to Assault on Arkham where he existed solely to be fridged. He’s a violent vigilante with a strict code about never killing innocents, and he reluctantly bonds with his team.
Finally, the animation is excellent, and is perfectly in keeping with the rest of the New 52niverse.
Downsides; Harley is unfortunately written and played as a ditzy idiot whose only attribute is being batshit crazy. Vandal Savage’s nature is ass-pulled to fit the plot, (suddenly an immortal with Wolverine healing is afraid of someone getting off a lucky shot and killing him), and some characters are killed off seemingly just for a shock value way of getting the stakes across.
But those gripes are middling at worst, and overall the movie is fun, enjoyable, (as long as you’re good with visceral animated gore, because it gets REALLY graphic and gory), and overall one of the better films DC Animated has offered us. This is what the live action Squad COULD have been if anyone involved actually gave a flying fuck about the story and the characters. This is what you SHOULD be watching to see what Task Force X could and should be.
All in all, I strongly, STRONGLY recommend viewing.
Suicide Squad; Hell to Pay is available now for Digital Download and on BluRay and DVD on April 10th.