18th Apr2018

‘Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay’ Blu-ray Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Christian Slater, Billy Brown, Liam McIntyre, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Gideon Emery, Tara Strong, Vanessa Williams, C. Thomas Howell, Dania Ramirez, James Urbaniak, Julie Nathanson, Jim Pirri, Greg Grunberg, Dave Fennoy, Cissy Jones, Natalie Lander, Trevor Devall, Dave Boat, Matthew Mercer | Written by Alan Burnett | Directed by Sam Liu

suicide-squad-h2p-dvd

Belle Reve penitentiary warden Amanda Waller (voiced by Vanessa Williams) heads up a secret government agency for which she forms Task Force X aka the Suicide Squad – a group of unlikely heroes made up of imprisoned criminals. For their latest mission the squad, which includes Deadshot (Christian Slater), Harley Quinn (Tara Strong), Bronze Tiger (Billy Brown), Captain Boomerang (Liam McIntyre), Killer Frost (Kristin Bauer van Straten) and Copperhead (Gideon Emery), are tasked with retrieving a mystical object so powerful that they’re willing to risk their own lives to steal it. But the Suicide Squad isn’t the only group of villains seeking to possess the object. The race is on for the golden prize… and, to stay alive, second place isn’t an option.

If there’s one thing that all the DC animated film have in common is that they, on many levels, leave their cinematic counterparts in the dust – and Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay is no exception. Whilst I enjoyed the big screen Suicide Squad, mostly due to the choice of casting (there’s no denying that Will Smith, even in a “villainous” role is incredibly charismatic), this iteration feel more like the squad of the comics – complete with double-crosses, brutal violence, a lack of personal responsibility and an overall reckless abandon.

Though it’s not all a success. Like comics, which can drag stories out over multiple issues and many months, Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay does drag in places. Though that’s not to say the film isn’t packed with action. It’s just that when there’s no action the film slows down to a crawl and match that the stoic nature of the script, in which laughs are at a premium, and this animated movie runs the risk of becoming dull. Which is something that is becoming more prevalent in the latter DC animated movies as the filmmakers seem to be trying to present the DC stories as a dark, more sombre, corner of the superhero universe – when fans know that DC Comics have often pioneered a perfect balance between dark, serious storytelling and comedy. Just look at Justice League International, a book that was packed with laughs but had, at times, some really dark stories to tell.

Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay isn’t all bleak however… there is Harley Quinn in the line-up after all. Voiced by Tara Strong, one of the best female voice over artists working today IMO, Quinn is – like the comics and other DCEU appearances – the comedy relief of this film; and thank god for that as the rest of the line-up are stick-in-the-mud serious. All the time. Though of the rest of the squad, there are some standouts: Deadshot (voiced fantastically by Christian Slater), a man whose loyalty to Amanda Waller is as perplexing as his moral code, is the films core – here walking a fine line between man who is just doing his job and a man who actually feels for his fellow humans, something which cannot be said of some of the other members of Waller’s “Task Force X”. Speaking of which, it’s Deadshots relationship with Bronze Tiger (voiced by Billy Brown) which is the real surprise. The pair are both hardened killers, both are – essentially – in this for themselves; but the fact that even with a moral flexibility they still live their lives by a code means that the pair bond over the course of the film, ultimately providing the films motley cast of characters with some much need humanity.

Thankfully, unlike some of the other DC animated movies, which sometimes pull from, or reference, comic-based stories, Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay tells an all-new tale, one that doesn’t rely on your knowledge of the comics, and one that involves a real rouges gallery of villains, allowing the film to showcase not only the likes of Vandal Savage (so misused on the DC TV shows) but also Reverse Flash and the grotesque Professor Pig – though in the latter case his grotesquery is all too short and, sadly, the character is little more than a plot point rather than part of the full story.

Probably the most interesting DC animated movies in some time, Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay features interesting, well-rounded, characters; and a plot that, whilst based around a simple macguffin, allows the characters, and in turn the stellar voice artists involved, to shine. The Suicide Squad have always made for some of comics most interesting characters and situations, and whilst the Hollywood movie may have made them into little more than two-dimensional superhero stereotypes, this animated feature can at least boast of returning Waller’s cadre of villains into the deep, conflicted characters they have been at their best.
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The Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay Blu-ray includes the following special features:

  • A Sneak Peek at the next DC Universe Movie, The Death of Superman: “The Death of Superman” – The Death of Superman is widely considered one of the most popular stories in the Superman canon and the DCU. This sneak peek at the exciting new film discusses the story and its place in pop culture.
  • Outback Rogue: Captain Boomerang(Featurette) – Audiences get a deeper look at this unconventional, yet entertaining villain from Down Under and how he’s evolved from The Flash universe to the Suicide Squad.
  • Nice Shot, Floyd! The Greatest Marksman in the DCU (Featurette) – Floyd Lawton, AKA Deadshot, is one of the most popular antiheroes in the DC pantheon. An excellent marksman and assassin, he often brags that he never misses his shot. Take a closer look at this fascinating character.
  • The Power of Plot Devices, MacGuffins and Red Herrings (Featurette) – An insightful examination of the power of a good plot device and the important influence it has over story.
  • Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay Commentary – The creative filmmaking team of screenwriter/co- producer Alan Burnett and executive producer James Tucker share their thoughts and stories on the characters, themes and development of Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay.

Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay is available now on DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray Limited Steelbook and Digital from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

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