The weekend before last I had the truly wonderful privilege to see two movies on the silver screen, one I absolutely enjoyed, and the other one had me wanting to pluck my eyes out. One was fan film made in 1988 by a group of bored college students on a non-existent budget. The other was a mammoth undertaking written, directed, acted, and edited by the best Hollywood has to offer. Both were equally horrible, bad movies. So, internet, please … lets so freaking out about the reviews for Suicide Squad, because it’s okay to like (or love) a bad movie.
Movie reviews are naturally objective and subjective
You don’t have to spend too long on reddit or Facebook fan groups to see two very stark reactions to DC’s latest movie efforts. People are screaming at each other about whether Batman v Superman or Suicide Squad were good or bad movies. I think I know where much of this animus comes from.
Much has to come from the objective value of what a movie is meant to do: is it supposed to tell us something about ourselves, or is it meant to entertain, or both? However you assign the priority of those statements will largely determine your reactions to these films, but more than that if you think that movies are meant primarily to be fun and enjoyable, and you find yourself liking a movie that the majority of critics pan, then you naturally feel like it’s an attack against you, that there is something wrong with you. Therefore, it makes sense to be angry about it, and lash out, since we begin to confuse what makes a good movie with how I feel about the movie.
The problem with movies like Suicide Squad is that people think just because they enjoy it that it is therefore a good movie, and that’s simply not the case. At it’s dost basic level film is supposed to be entertaining, but film has a structure to it.
Film isn’t graded on just how much I enjoy it
Making a movie and presenting it to an audience is like composing a sentence. There are set rules established so that the people reading or hearing the sentence can understand what is happening. You might not be able to diagram it, but your mind puts together the nouns with verbs and all the various participles of speech and creates a understanding of what concept is being explained. Film is like that. There are rules of understanding that many of us know. We understand that there are characters, there’s a story (or a plot), and that story always involves conflict of some sort. That’s just the basics, but everything else in film (the lighting, the acting, the directing, the music, and the editing of all the moving pieces that brings everything together) is built around telling the story of these characters and their conflict.
So, when a critic (or really anyone on the street) is judging a movie they are doing so against those criteria in a scientific way. They analyze it, like a burger or a wine, to say how well it was put together. Sometimes you get a basic breakdown of it like how Guy Fieri quickly describes a piece of food, or you get a connoisseur who talks about the oaky milieu of the wine they just tasted, either way, the critic is trying to break down the whole of a film and explain how it all pieces together.
The reason why movies that have been made in the DCEU get blasted is because they’re not good movies. In the case of Suicide Squad, as explained by Phil Own at The Wrap is that the movie simply doesn’t speak the language of film. It’s put together like a series of Vines or a YouTube video.
How you feel about a film is how you feel. It’s a chemical reaction created by your brain based on the input you receive, and that varies from person to person. It’s subjective. How critics feel about a movie can definitely be subjective as well, but a good critic is giving you objective criticism.
I love bad movies
I know this might result in everyone taking my right away to be a critic, but I do love some pretty awful movies … like Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. The reasons I love it are innumerable (I love the characters and their interactions. The relationships between the core cast carry the movie. I’m a sucker for bad jokes, and the themes of how each one deals with death and what drives them get me every time), but when it comes down to it, it’s a terrible movie. It’s slow, it’s fairly boring, the action is nonexistent, the fact that everyone but Kirk would turn on the Federation is very uncharacteristic (much less the fact that it’s all based on a person taking their pain away. Not brainwashing them, just making them feel better. The bad guy is basically Zoloft in human form). The movie was so bad, they gave the cast an entirely new movie just to give them a proper send off.
The point is, that even though I love Star Trek 5, I’m not on a mission to burn down Rotten Tomatoes just because it’s rated at 21 percent (my personal favorite review blurb: “The absolute nadir of the series, a movie so bad in so many ways that the second-worst has to squint and use binoculars to see that far down.”).
So in other words
It’s okay to like bad movies, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, but please internet, please, stop trying to tell me that movies like Suicide Squad are good, because they are absolutely not.