The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay

The live-action Suicide Squad movie was a decent-enough hit, but it didn't exactly light the cinematic world on fire the way several other comic book movies did. It also left a sizable percentage of the fanbase disappointed. Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay is a direct-to-home video animated film featuring the characters. Edgier than the theatrical movie and sporting an R rating, this one may prove much more satisfying to fans. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases it on Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack, and DVD on April 10.

The story finds Amanda Waller sending the Squad – a group of criminals who perform down-and-dirty work for the government -- on a new mission. Their goal is to retrieve a mystical “Get Out of Hell Free” card that will exempt the person holding it from entering the devil's realm upon death, thereby allowing them to commit acts of evil without eternal repercussions. Waller ostensibly just wants to keep it from getting into the wrong hands. Of course, she's sending in a bunch of individuals who would almost certainly benefit from possessing it themselves.

The team – Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Bronze Tiger, Killer Frost, and Copperhead – hop into an RV to make the road trip necessary to track the card down. This leads to some moments of levity, as the members bicker and get on one another's nerves. Once they come into proximity to the card, though, things get serious very quickly.

Hell to Pay definitely matches the dark tone of the comics, which was softened somewhat for the theatrical Suicide Squad movie. There are a number of effectively-designed action sequences that don't hold back in terms of violent mayhem. Advancements in animation have made it possible to deliver fights and “stunts” that feel fairly credible, despite not involving real people. That's certainly the case in this movie, where the comic book action vibrantly springs to life.

The voice acting – which includes Christian Slater as Deadshot – is quite good, with each cast member creating a vivid personality for the character they're playing. The screenplay, meanwhile, offers a tantalizing conundrum at its center. The “Get Out of Hell Free” card threatens to bring out the worst in the Suicide Squad members, which generates some suspense as we wait to see whether or not they will fulfill their mission or turn on each other. If anything, the film could have done even more than it does with that idea, but it still holds your attention. Some moments of effective humor also prove beneficial.

Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay is a good onscreen representation of these popular characters, and the mature approach feels true to the spirit of the comics.

( out of four)

Blu-Ray Features

A complimentary copy of the Ultra HD Blu-ray was provided by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment for the purposes of this review. Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay comes with a nice assortment of supplementary material, starting off with audio commentary from screenwriter/co-producer Alan Burnett and executive producer James Tucker.

The featurettes begin with “Outback Rogue,” which is an in-depth look at Captain Boomerang. This particular Suicide Squad member has never quite gotten the same amount of love as Deadshot and Harley Quinn, but he's got an interesting history that this feature goes into. “Nice Shot, Floyd!” is a similar segment, this one focusing on Deadshot. Both provide insight into their personalities and motivations, and are a good primer on the characters.

“The Power of Plot Devices, MacGuffins, and Red Herrings,” meanwhile, examines how those things can be utilized in telling stories that grip an audience. Finally, there's a sneak peak at the next DC Universe animated feature, The Death of Superman, which looks to be another winner.

Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay is rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, sexual content, brief graphic nudity and some drug material. The running time is 1 hour and 26 minutes.

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