When James Gunn set out to essentially reboot a two-year-old comic book movie that had itself been an abysmal disappointment, I rolled my eyes. While I’m a huge fan of Gunn’s work, I’m like a lot of other people in that I’m suffering some severe superhero fatigue. I didn’t even plan on watching this movie until about a week ago when I saw some of the gruesome effects work and who the main villain happened to be, other than Amanda Waller. Beware, there are spoilers ahead.

Seriously. Don’t read another word if you haven’t watched the movie and spoilers ruin it for you.

Marvel and DC have been trolling the D-list hero/villain rosters as of late and James Gunn brought some incredible comic book corpses out of the morgue for The Suicide Squad including Polka Dot Man, The Weasel, and Starro The Conqueror. First of all, I was only introduced to the character of Starro a few years back thanks to an episode of Robot Chicken and the notion of a sentient, psychic, mind-controlling starfish still makes me think it’s better suited to an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants. Still, they managed to make Aquaman seem badass, so I suppose anything is possible. And damned if James Gunn didn’t succeed at doing just that.

To summarize the plot, a group of imprisoned supervillains are drafted into service to stop a world threatening event that actual heroes aren’t expendable enough to be wasted on. Two teams of mostly D-list baddies are dumped into the meat grinder of Corto Maltese to destabilize an already unstable South American regime and destroy their superweapon, code named Operation: Starfish. There is more violent death, gore, blood, and fire in the first fifteen minutes of this film than any sci-fi or horror flick I’ve ever seen. Michael Rooker makes a brief and ultimately mind-blowing appearance alongside Margot Robbie’s best ever depiction of Harley Quinn and Sean Gunn’s top tier portrayal of The Weasel…but more on that in a minute.

With any James Gunn film you’re going to get a lot of digital effects but, a filmmaker who got his start with Troma is always bound to bring practical effects to the screen and The Suicide Squad doesn’t disappoint. Polka Dot Man is an excellent example as his polka dot powers begin swelling up in his early on in the movie. Grotesque lumps of his interdimensional disease begin to swell up all over his face and body, bulging out in glowing nightmare fuel. It honestly looks like someone shoved a lit Christmas tree inside the character at one point before he goes behind a bush to rainbow vomit all over the place.

King Shark, physically portrayed by Steve Agee and voiced by Sylvester Stallone, is nothing but CG but he works well within the confines of the film and provides some truly gruesome moments that you’ve likely already seen from the promos. Peter Capaldi’s The Thinker is ridiculous with his assortment of spark plugs and sonic screwdrivers jabbed into his skull but it’s just entertaining to hear the Scottish Doctor drop a few F-Bombs while dealing with our heroes and even more entertaining to see the people of Corto Maltese completely unphased by a Scotsman with a hardware store in his brainpan living it up in a nightclub.

Starro the Conqueror, again a completely CG character, is almost nauseating at times as it spews out millions of baby Starros from its armpit birth canal to try to take over the island nation. Seeing the little shop of horrors where all of the Operation: Starfish experiments takes place is very reminiscent of the lab from Day of the Dead in which various zombies are in states of deconstruction to see how they all fit together. The articulation, the gruesome detail, and just the comedic value of seeing a giant starfish trash a city like it’s Godzilla made this character work so well.

But the real star of The Suicide Squad is The Weasel. Fully CG, the bulging-eyed, window licking, sickly looking ferret man is by far one of the best things I’ve seen in this movie. While he doesn’t get a lot of screen time, and you literally have to sit through the end of the film to see the overall resurrection of the character, this thing brings a kind of grotesque comic relief to the early part of the film that helps audiences realize that this won’t be the bleak, dower Zack Snyder-influenced, David Ayer Suicide Squad but rather an entirely new movie that gives the characters an opportunity to be explored and seen for what they are: villains forced into the role of hero.

I’m critical of superhero movies and big budget films. Always. But James Gunn has this way of taking a big budget blockbuster and giving it the heart of a low budget B-film, which is why so many of his movies do so well. You get the no holds barred action, adventure, and effects of a major Hollywood studio but the passion and storytelling of a craftsman. The Suicide Squad is a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

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