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Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay (2018)
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
4K UHD Released: 4/10/2018
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/9/2018
In my recent review forBatman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero, I wrote about how hit movies produce various kinds of spin-offs. There are usually two parameters attached to these offspring. First of all, there is typically some pre-planning involved, as the powers-that-be are anticipating the film to be a winner. I doubt that even the most optimistic minds at Warner Bros. thought that 2016's Suicide Squad would nearly double it's budget in box-office receipts and become a blockbuster. The other parameter involved is time. Riding the coat-tails of a hit movie instant always an instantaneous thing. So, one does have to wonder how, relatively soon after the theatrical release of Suicide Squad, we get the animated feature film, Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay.
Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay has Amanda Waller (voiced by Vanessa Williams) up to her old tricks again. She wants to possess an enchanted card that will allow the holder to go to heaven. So, she puts together a group of bad guys to retrieve it for her. Deadshot (voiced by Christian Slater), Killer Frost (voiced by Kristin Bauer van Straten), Bronze Tiger (voiced by Billy Brown), Captain Boomerang (voiced by Liam McIntyre), Copperhead (voiced by Gideon Emery), and Harley Quinn (voiced by Tara Strong) aren't crazy about this mission, but if they are successful, they will have years taken off of their sentence. The problem is that a cadre of other villains are also aware of the card, and a race to find the magical object may be a race to the death.
Right off the bat (no pun intended), fans of the Suicide Squad movie are going to have mixed feelings about this project, due to the team's line-up. Yes, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and Harley Quinn are back, but they are accompanied by two characters who will only be known to fans of DC Comics and one which will be familiar to those who watch The Flash TV series. This is a gutsy move on the part of DC, but it also shows the potential of this franchise, as they can mix it up on each outing by bringing in different villains. (And just to tease this idea, Black Manta appears for just a moment in the film's opening.) However, all is not perfect in character land. The Harley Quinn offered here feels like both an obligation and an after-thought at times, as her personality is very under-developed (she acts like a child most of the time) and she has very little to do.
However, Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay does have three things going for it. First of all, the plot concerning the card which will get the holder into heaven is so stupid that it's actually sort of cool. Yes, this plays more like something out of a fantasy movie, but given all of the very bad people in this story, it's understandable why they would want to get their hands on it. Secondly, Zoom (voiced by C. Thomas Howell), the villain from The Flash comics, appears here and his storyline includes one of the more creative ideas which I've seen in recent memory and a truly shocking reveal. Thirdly, this movie does not pull any punches and it's rated-R for a reason. There is a lot of casual violence here and let's just say that a lot of the characters don't make it to the finale. Even if this is treated as a stand-alone one-shot, the number of villains who die here is surprising and it makes the last 15-minutes very unpredictable.
Given what a mess most of Suicide Squad was, I wasn't expecting much from its animated follow up. But, as noted above, Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay has some strong qualities. Don't get me wrong, it's not perfect -- the animation truly lacks in detail at times, there are way too many characters, and it drags in the middle -- but, when compared to the quality of its predecessor, it's pretty good. As mentioned, the whole Suicide Squad gives the creators the freedom to pull in any number of characters, so I can't help but assume that we'll see another group of villains in action very soon. Bring on Solomon Grundy!
Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay tries to milk comedy from a Winnebago on 4K UHD courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an HEVC 2160p transfer which runs at an avearage of 40 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no detectable grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, although some are muted, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The depth works very well here, but the level of detail does reveal some issues with the animation. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action sequences produce notable surround sound and subwoofer effects, which some of the sounds from the rear channel being nicely detailed. The score never overpowers the actors and the front channels show nice separation.
The extra features for Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay are found on the accompanying Blu-ray Disc. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Executive Producer James Tucker and Writer Alan Burnett "Outback Rogue: Captain Boomerang" (5 minutes) offers a discussion of the character, with a brief look at his comic book origins and some panels from the comics. Likewise, "Nice Shot, Floyd! The Greatest Marksman in the DCU" (6 minutes) brings us a snapshot of Deadshot, describing the character and showing some comic drawings. "The Power of Plot Devices, MacGuffins and Red Herrings" (11 minutes) uses the card from the story as a jumping off point to discuss how the goal of a plot is often secondary to the actual tale. The Disc contains two bonus TV episodes from Beware the Batman and Young Justice.
Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long