‘The Suicide Squad’ and ‘Jungle Cruise’ — two summer blockbusters you will absolutely enjoy

AUGUST 14 — As our daily Covid-19 numbers soared past 20,000 the past two weeks, the movie geek in me can’t help but feel a tinge of jealousy of fellow movie geeks in the US who are now enjoying trips to the cinema, and these are not just the expected blockbusters like Black WidowThe Suicide Squad, Snake Eyes and Old, but also indie fare like The Green Knight.

Even our friends in Singapore are now able to watch these films in the cinema!

Of course, the pandemic has forced the studios to reconsider their normally long theatrical window before releasing their movies on home video, leading to some movies opening simultaneously in cinemas and on streaming platforms like HBO Max and Disney+, which at least helps fans like us on this side of the world to also be able to savour these new movies.

It’s been a pretty decent summer of blockbuster flicks, though not getting to experience them in the cinema does take the shine off of things a bit, with the adrenaline rush of scoring movie tickets to be the first to see things totally lacking from our movie watching experience the past two years. 

The films themselves have been pretty solid, with The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, A Quiet Place Part II and F9: The Fast Saga providing the popcorn enjoyment (regardless of how ridiculous F9 may be) and Black Widow proving to be a bit of an underwhelming disappointment.

Two recently released movies, which you can watch on HBO Max and Disney+ respectively, have proven to be the true highlights of this summer blockbuster season for yours truly. 

Even though I wish I saw these two action extravaganzas on the big screen, with their eye-catching visuals and booming sound mixes surely enhanced by the state-of-the-art sound systems in cinemas, watching them at home on my humble little TV and home theatre set was already exciting enough!

A scene from 'The Suicide Squad'. — Screen capture via YouTube/DC
A scene from 'The Suicide Squad'. — Screen capture via YouTube/DC

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The Suicide Squad

Let’s get one thing very clear from the start, this sequel cum soft reboot of the first Suicide Squad movie is definitely not intended for kids. 

Like the Deadpool movies, this is an R-rated superhero movie that’s probably the most extremely violent and foul-mouthed big studio superhero film in existence yet. 

It’s more or less a do-over, with the studio admitting that, despite the first Suicide Squad being a big hit, the final product that was delivered just didn’t do the irreverent and nihilistic spirit of the comics justice.

Hiring James Gunn, not only because he made the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies, but also because he made movies like Super and Slither, and wrote the Troma classic Tromeo & Juliet, the studio definitely made the right choice.

Gunn has delivered a movie that perfectly synthesizes the sensibilities of all those aforementioned movies into one cohesive, tonally spot-on and depraved entertainment machine.

The story is more or less the same as the first one, with a squad of criminals and degenerates assembled to go on a mission, wherein they’re sent to a country called Corto Maltese where a vicious dictatorship has fallen because of a military coup to put a stop to an extraterrestrial project called Project Starfish.

But it’s in the execution (pun fully intended) that Gunn really makes his mark, delivering set-piece after set-piece of sensationally stylish ultra-violence, my favourites being an attack at a military camp (topped with an absolutely cruel but hilarious punchline) and a flowery Harley Quinn action sequence, all contained within an absurdly funny and admirably nihilistic superhero movie. 

A supreme piece of popcorn entertainment. 

Jungle Cruise

Being a fanboy of the oeuvre of director Jaume Collet-Serra (of The Shallows, The Commuter and Run All Night fame), I’ve been wondering what he’s been up to for the last few years as there hasn’t been any news of a new Liam Neeson movie in the works to be directed by him. 

It turns out that I’ve been looking in the wrong place when, out of nowhere, comes this new Disney movie, which is based on a theme park ride, starring The Rock and Emily Blunt, and directed by none other than Collet-Serra himself!

But fear not, for this one’s perfect for family viewing and ticks all the boxes that one would expect from a good Disney production. 

The story is a bit convoluted (but very easy to follow), involving a mythical tree called Tears Of The Moon, whose blossoms are said to be able to cure any illness, with Blunt’s character Dr Lily Houghton hiring boat captain Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock) to assist her in her journey.

A bit like a mash-up of Indiana Jones, The African Queen, Fitzcarraldo and Pirates Of The Caribbean, viewers who’ve seen enough older films will cherish the chemistry between Johnson and Blunt, which will call to mind the banter between Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen or at the very least Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in Romancing The Stone, and Collet-Serra brings his usual energy and bravura in creatively staging the action scenes, gifting us with a hugely enjoyable film that might just spawn a new franchise for Disney.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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