THE IMPOSSIBLE (Spain, 2012)

by Miguel E. Rodriguez

CAST: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, Geraldine Chaplin
ROTTEN TOMATOMETER: 81% Certified Fresh

PLOT: The story of a tourist family in Thailand caught in the destruction and chaotic aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

The Impossible, directed by J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), is one of the best true-to-life survivor stories I’ve seen since Touching the Void.  No doubt some liberties were taken here and there at the screenplay level, as always happens with movie adaptations, but while the film played out, the story was as gripping as any book by John Krakauer.

It’s 2004, and the Bennett family is on Christmas vacation in Thailand, at a beautiful beachside resort that has only been open for a week.  (In a nice little detail, we see that the protective plastic film has not yet been removed from their light switch panels.)  Henry (McGregor) and Maria (Watts) enjoy Christmas Eve and Christmas day with their three sons, Thomas, Simon, and Lucas (Tom Holland in his cinematic debut, already doing cartwheels and backflips on the beach).  On the morning of December 26th, an unthinkable catastrophe occurs when a tsunami, triggered by a massive seaquake offshore, slams into the beach.  The visual effects during this sequence are as convincing and terrifying as anything I’ve ever seen.  As the wave sweeps over everything in its path, the Bennett family is separated.  Maria and her son Lucas manage to find each other in the immediate aftermath, but there is no sign of Henry and her other two sons.

What follows is a story that gives new meaning to the words “hopeless” and “hope.”  While the outcome is somewhat predictable – SOMEONE survived to tell this story, after all – the filmmakers have managed to put together a film that generates suspense and cheers despite what we may or may not know about this family.  There are scenes of people missing each other in hospital hallways by seconds.  In a lesser film, it might have been comic.  In THIS movie, those scenes generated groans of empathetic frustration from the audience (that is, me).  By that time, we had followed various Bennett family members through many highs and lows, and I desperately wanted the right people to be found at the right time.  It was unexpectedly effective.

That sentiment applies to the movie as a whole, not just that one scene.  I have seen so many disaster movies that I was primed to expect certain cliches and tropes, even though this movie was highly rated and recommended when it came out.  To be fair, this movie does indulge in those tropes.  I mean, by nature, it HAS to.  The difference with The Impossible is that these stereotypical events and scenes all felt way more real than expected.  Credit to the screenwriter and director for molding these cliches into something more compelling than yet another reworking of The Day After Tomorrow.  When the finale of The Impossible arrives, it feels uplifting and inspirational instead of hackneyed and obvious.  It’s a neat little magic trick that I wish I could explain better.

An interesting self-reflective thought occurred to me during this movie.  There is a scene where Henry, the father, is huddled with a group of English-speaking survivors in a bus station.  Someone offers Henry his cellphone, even though he is trying to save his battery in case his own family tries to reach him.  Henry reaches someone in England, but because he still cannot find his wife, he breaks down and hands the phone back to the stranger.  The stranger looks at Henry, looks at his phone, and hands it back to Henry: “You can’t leave it like that.  Call him back.”

My entire life, my favorite sub-genre of science fiction has been anything dealing with an apocalypse or set in a post-apocalyptic future, like The Matrix or World War Z or the superlative HBO series The Last of Us.  One of the things many of the movies in that genre have in common is the inherent tendency for humans to turn on each other or behave selfishly when the chips are down.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  Somebody finds water in the desert, and instead of helping mankind, they sell it to the highest bidder.  Or someone discovers that the invading aliens will give them preferential treatment if they help round up more humans themselves.  That kind of thing.

Well, here is The Impossible, based on a true story, and here is a man who desperately needs to save the battery power on his cellphone, but whose compassion will not allow him to let Henry’s short conversation go unfinished.  “You can’t leave it like that.”

I have no way of knowing if this moment really happened or if it was manufactured.  All I can report is that scene, in a movie full of hard-hitting emotional beats, is probably my favorite scene.  Here is an apocalyptic situation in the truest sense of the word.  Here is a person who could have been justifiably selfish, but his empathy won’t allow him to turn his back on someone who is suffering.  It even got me wondering: would I do the same?

If this scene was taken from real life, then maybe all those post-apocalyptic movies got it wrong.  Maybe, when the chips are down, people are inherently good.  Is it possible?  I’d like to think so.  I’d like to think I’d do the same.

Long story short: The Impossible takes you on an unforgettable ride made even more remarkable due to it being based on a true story.  It’s full of great performances and astonishing visuals, but you may never want to stay at a beach resort again…

P.S.  According to the real-life woman played by Naomi Watts, the biggest “lie” in the movie was the color of the ball her children were playing with just before the tsunami struck…it was yellow, not red.  Do with that information what you will.


By Marc S. Sanders

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith is the best installment in George Lucas’ prequel trilogy of his epic space opera saga. However, that is where the line is drawn.

It carries a heightened drama thanks primarily to Ian McDiarmid as the eventual Emperor Palpatine. Shakespeare might have been proud of the character and performer. Much like Alec Guinness received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Ben Kenobi, so should McDiarmid have been honored playing an antithetical influence (of Kenobi) on the student and Jedi in Training, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen in a much more improved performance).

War within the galaxy is rampant and there’s no end in sight. The Jedi Order is overwhelmed. Anakin is used as a pawn to spy on his new mentor Palpatine who in turn insists that the young Jedi occupy a chair in the Jedi Council to spy on them. In addition, it’s hard for Anakin to come to grips with his secret wife Padme (Natalie Portman) dying from childbirth as his nightmares continue to remind him. A deal with the devil himself in Palpatine is offered as an option. Can a manipulation in the Force rescue Padme from death?

There’s a lot of weight on Anakin here. Sith departs from the politics discussed in the prior entries as it focuses primarily on Anakin’s personal struggles. The film really needed to take this direction. After all, it’s time to witness Anakin’s transformation into Darth Vader. Everyone has been dying to see that.

George Lucas’ scene set ups work on occasion. A great performance of dialogue occurs in an alien opera box between Palpatine and Anakin. This is where McDiarmid really comes through. He’s subtle and deliberate in his influence. Fortunately, Christensen just needs to listen mostly.

Later however, a scene works only so much when Samuel L Jackson as Jedi Master Mace Windu duels with Palpatine, having just revealed his secretly evil Sith side. Through all three of these films, Mace Windu has been one of Jackson’s least exciting roles. He’s bland and never doing much. Christensen comes upon this scene and doesn’t give me the genuine anguish I was hoping for. McDiarmid, again, is hitting home runs in surprise and development. This turning point scene is not as strong as it should have been thanks to Lucas’ stilted direction and writing, along with Jackson and Christensen lacking any true depth.

Episode III also has a handful of so what moments that continually frustrate me in this trilogy. We have to watch Yoda and Obi Wan watch a video of what Anakin has done. Why? We’ve seen this already. Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits; I wish he had a larger role) needs to be informed of an upcoming meeting. Honestly, I don’t need an update on a character’s calendar. Just make sure he arrives on time. Moments like these don’t drive towards anything.

Natalie Portman is not served well as a pregnant Padme. Her dialogue is worse than ever, and it hinders her performance. Padme is torn between her affection for Anakin and her passions for democracy. We see next to none of the latter. How does an intelligent woman like Padme suddenly become so unaware? Ironically, opportunity for her political nature was filmed but remains only as deleted DVD features. These scenes would have enhanced the movie as they imply the foreshadowing of the upcoming Rebellion, while a petition attempt is mounted to usurp the Emperor’s administration. Here, Padme is trying to be instrumental in Luke & Leia’s (her own children) future. Really good material here. Nevertheless, George Lucas opted to leave it all on the cutting room floor. Oh well! I’m still holding out hope for a “special edition” cut one day, inclusive of this storyline.

Lucas’ lava planet, Mustafar, is quite grand as the arena for the much-anticipated dual between evil Anakin and noble Obi Wan. Still, again, it could have been better. There’s too much CGI and flashing lightsabers that hide the acting among the swordsmen. Compare this to the duals in Empire and Jedi and you see what I mean.

I know my commentary on the prequels is quite pessimistic, but I do have an (maybe a biased diehard fan) appreciation for the films. The stories work. The execution falls short however in dialogue, performances and visual artificialness.

George Lucas had all the right make up for a trilogy as epic as his original films that began in 1977. Maybe because he didn’t have the monies and technology at that time, his imagination had to work overtime back then. In these later films, however, his hubris got in the way of his craft. So, we have to settle for his next great technological discovery in CGI efficiency. Therefore, we get cartoons with no depth like Jar Jar Binks, General Grievous, and lame, clicking battle droids.

Lucas always defended the position of his writing by insisting these films are aimed for kids. No. I don’t accept that. Star Wars was aimed for kids and the kids that remain in all of us as we continue to grow into adulthood. George Lucas needed to write with that in mind.


By Marc S. Sanders

Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones is a vast improvement on the prior installment of George Lucas’ prequel trilogy from a galaxy far, far away. Lucas made an attempt to bring his characters out of their shell a little bit. I mean at least they laugh among each another. You need that if you are to believe that Jedi In Training Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala (Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman) are to fall madly in love. So at least have them romp around in a Naboo meadow.

There’s some curious political intrigue in Clones; delving deeper than what Episode I only began to imply. As stilted as some of the dialogue may be, there are ingredients here that allow to me correlate with real life government powers and to date current events. That’s a compliment, but it’s also a shortcoming.

Ian McDiarmid remains the MVP of this trilogy as Chancellor Palpatine, the puppet master with a faux innocent exterior. Anytime he’s on screen you sit up in your chair with a little more focus. He’s brilliant as the manipulator who keeps a short distance on Anakin, the supposed chosen one, while also pushing Padme away from government interference, and yet still managing to prevent the Jedi Order from detecting his true nature. It takes a heck of an actor to pull this off.

At the same time though, the politics take up a large amount of the entire trilogy. While it holds my interest, I still question if this is what a Star Wars film should be comprised of. Where’s the force, and where’s a more defined explanation of what “the chosen one” is to offer, or what the “balance of the force” really means? Some heavy vocabulary in this terminology, maybe, but is there any dimension to any of this? Regrettably, the answer is no.

New characters and planets are introduced. Jango Fett (Temura Morrison), an armored bounty hunter, is the initial antagonist who is part of an assassination attempt on Padme, followed by a revelation that he is the source of a new discovered clone army on a secret water planet known as Kamino. (As a diehard franchise fan, I have a lot of issues with Jango and his pre-teen son Boba, but that is for another discussion.)

Eventually, the antagonism shifts to Christopher Lee as the former Jedi Count Dooku, found to be keeping conference on another secret planet known as Geonosis, where life size dragonflies reside. Lee was legendary by the time this film was released in 2002, but he’s not exactly aggressive enough for me. He was an old man with little convincing agility to be engaged in a lightsaber fight with a very bouncy Master Yoda. In Lord Of The Rings, he commanded from the perch of his tower. Here, Lee is in the mix of the action and he’s a far cry from Ray Park’s appearance as Darth Maul.

Yoda is another issue. Now friends will be quick to remind and tease me over how excited I got when I saw Yoda engage in a climactic lightsaber dual for the first time. My tune has changed though. As The Empire Strikes Back showed way back in 1980, Yoda was convincingly powerful without ever having to prove how powerful he ever was. Here, it comes off gimmicky to me as an excuse to draw a crowd or make a new kind of toy to sell. Just Yoda’s appearance alone should be enough. Now, he’s just like the rest of them. Yoda’s greatest feature was his philosophy, never his combat skills.

I don’t take much issue with the romantic dialogue between Anakin and Padmé. An actor like Leonardo DiCaprio or Billy Zane would sell the “sand monologue” into the stratosphere. Remember, those guys performed James Cameron’s hammy Titanic script. Hayden Christensen could not do that though. His temper, which Anakin is regarded for at this age, is never convincing. It’s terribly overacted. He screeches his dialogue. Darth Vader never had to yell or scream or screech. So why is Anakin? This is also partly Lucas’ fault. Where’s the misuse of the force with Anakin? At one moment, Anakin is upset and throws an object? Why throw an object? Why not “force throw” an object? Anakin demands answers from a captive bounty hunter by screaming at her? Why only scream? Why not “force choke her” or mentally torment her? Don’t you think these ideas, these familiarities we’ve seen with Vader would have held much more dramatic weight and depth?

Lucas stretched himself further than he did on The Phantom Menace. Still, he just didn’t take his second episode far enough. It’s as if he opted not to apply too much effort. There are no twists to Attack Of The Clones. No surprises. We easily have a general idea of where all of this is going long before the opening crawl even begins. So, like its predecessor, Episode II lacks a wow factor that placed the original three films into the greatness they still hold.

There still needed to be more in these films. I’m not gonna even talk about CGI. I’m talking about story, and what makes a saga a Saga. So… WHERE’S THE SAGA?????


By Marc S. Sanders

22 years after the first Star Wars film made a ginormous cultural impact on the world, George Lucas finally returned to the franchise to make the first film of a new prequel trilogy with Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. It was hyped beyond measure, and it sold gazillions in ticket sales but was nevertheless a letdown for diehard fans and pretty much everyone else. I don’t think it’s a terrible movie. I just don’t understand how necessary the film is.

There’s a lot of irrelevant moments here. Early on two Jedi step off a ship, and a droid introduces herself to them and says “this way please,” and the three figures literally walk out of frame. This takes up time that I don’t understand. Why couldn’t the three just end up in the room they were supposed to be in? There are a lot of “so what?” moments in The Phantom Menace, and it all weighs the film down, hindering a story.

Listening to an audio commentary a number of years ago, one of the visual effects makers pats himself on the back of a shot midway through the film that consists primarily of CGI characters and sets. That was when I realized the conception of The Phantom Menace was completed with a short-sighted intent. Sure the scene might have been a technical breakthrough in 1999, but where’s the story? Fact is, there is no story and little regard for the celebrated franchise in Episode I. Lucas and his team were more concerned with shooting new CGI discoveries blended with human interaction. They offered next to no regard for intelligent plot and storytelling. The film suffers because of Lucasfilm’s hubris.

Consider the pod race. There’s a moment where young Anakin’s (Jake Lloyd) racer falls apart at high speed and he’s gotta get it back together. He uses a magnetic tool to get a cable plugged back in. If this child is “the chosen one” and potentially “dangerous,” why not show the child potentially use the force to bring the cable back in place? Why not show moments where unexplainable power emits from Anakin, to what would imply the inevitablity we are aware will eventually happen?

Lucas is also all over the place in his storytelling and characters. From the Shakespearean manipulator, Senator Palpatine, to the immature cartoon like Jar Jar Binks. I think they all serve a purpose to entertain. Yet while adults and die hard fans will relish the return of Ian McDiarmid (a terrific actor) they’ll be bored to death with actor Ahmed Best in the Jar Jar role. This I expect happens in vice versa with 8 year olds seeing their toy figures come to life. There is a silly charm to Jar Jar, but what 8 year old wants to pay attention or even comprehend debates among galactic senators over taxation and trade? It’s as if Bugs Bunny entered the halls of Congress, or Othello walked in on a pie throwing melee among the Three Stooges. At almost every point in The Phantom Menace something doesn’t belong or seems out of place.

The film moves far away from the tradition of the original trilogy. For the first time the human characters are enormously flat. Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor…all flat, all bland. There’s no snarkiness to them. No sarcasm. Before The Phantom Menace when was it ever said that the Jedi order was so formal in their ways? It doesn’t feel very fun to be a Jedi, like it did for Alec Guinness and Mark Hamill before.

The two redeeming qualities of this film belong to the pod race which is thrillingly edited in sound and visuals. There’s some fun shots of each racer, the pit droids, the crowds in the stands and even Jabba The Hutt. The film really comes alive here much like the memorable cantina scene from the original Star Wars. The other best feature is the villain, the apprentice to the phantom menace, the red and black tattooed Darth Maul played by the agile martial artist Ray Park.

Lucas didn’t use Park enough in the film. With his double bladed lightsaber, the two on one dual Park has with the Jedi characters towards the end is one of the greatest sword fights in film. I would’ve welcomed an additional five minutes of this scene. Shamefully, this would be Ray Park’s only appearance in the film franchise, as well as Darth Maul. This was a great blend of actor and character. Lucas abandoned a good thing too soon.

Yes! I have much to complain about The Phantom Menace. Yet it is not all bad as a whole. I love the political trickery that McDiarmid displays and the senate meeting among the delegates is a nice foreshadowing for what we know will come of it. Visually, it’s a treat as well. (Again, though, what kids are going to be entertained by all of that?) The pod race and lightsaber dueling are masterful as well. There’s some good material here. There just could’ve been a whole lot more….and a whole lot less overall.


By Marc S. Sanders

Disney’s Christopher Robin is a live action interpretation of a classic story that I approve of. Like Maleficent, it’s a film that is based on new, original material with familiar and beloved classic characters of the Disney machine-unlike recent reinventions of Beauty & The Beast and Aladdin. Those films are just the same with minor tweaks that don’t generate enough hype or interest for me. (No—I will not be seeing The Lion King. I already saw it back in 1992.)

Marc Forster (Quantum Of Solace and Finding Neverland) directs while never losing sight of the fact that Winnie The Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, etc all stem from classic children’s literature by A.A. Milne. The film opens with a backstory on the title character starting with his playful adolescent connection to Pooh & Friends, followed by his departure from them into a strict boarding school and then into adulthood (played sweetly by Ewan MacGregor). Christopher falls in love with Evelyn (Hayley Atwood) and before their child is born he is sent off to war only to return as a no nonsense efficiency manager for a luggage company. He has forgotten his friends who live and do nothing (which always leads to something) in 100 Acre Woods. Worse, Christopher never laughs nor hardly acknowledges his daughter Madeline. He is not a child anymore.

This is the film that Steven Spielberg probably wanted when he directed Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman in 1991’s Hook. It just came off too clunky and messy at the time.

As the story continues, Forster is not so covert in his symbolism of Christopher Robin shedding his crotchety adult persona and returning to his childhood whimsy. Christopher crawls through the hole in the tree, muddies his suit, loses his briefcase and disregards his paperwork.

I found myself rooting for Christopher’s new found happiness and his revived love for his wife and daughter. I loved the stuffed animal interpretations of the Pooh characters (with voice work from Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett and Toby Jones). Yet, the tears at the sweetness of it all never arrived. As quick as the film began, it was never a challenge to realize how it would all turn out.

So no surprises to be had in Christopher Robin, but an original story to appreciate nonetheless. That’s good enough for me.


by Miguel E. Rodriguez

Director: Mike Flanagan
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran
My Rating: 9/10
Rotten Tomatometer: 76% Certified Fresh

PLOT: Nearly forty years after the events of The Shining, an adult Danny Torrance makes contact with someone else who can “shine”, and is soon drawn into a war with a band of people who hunt gifted people like himself.

If you had asked me a year ago to list movies will never get a sequel, Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of The Shining would have been near the top of that list.  As adaptations go, it has its share of fans and detractors, but as a stand-alone horror movie, it’s a stone-cold masterpiece that has never been equaled.  When I heard that they were actually making a sequel based on Stephen King’s own sequel to The Shining, I was extremely skeptical.  The last time someone made a follow-up to a Kubrick film was 2010 (1984), and while that film was a decent sci-fi flick, it didn’t come close to the spectacle of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).  So my expectations were, as they say, tempered.

After watching Doctor Sleep earlier tonight, I can say, unequivocally, that while the film is not perfect, I could not have asked for a better sequel to The Shining.  It’s a treasure trove for fans of the original, and also for fans of the extended universe that King has created for his novels, starting with the Dark Tower series forward.  (For those particular fans, you’ll be glad to see a very specific two-digit number making a conspicuous cameo…)

To begin with, the story is classic King.  Danny Torrance has grown into an irresponsible adult with a drinking problem, marking an unfortunate parallel with his father, Jack.  He hits bottom and takes up residence in a sleepy New Jersey town, joins AA, and works as an orderly at a local hospice.  Up to now, he has done everything in his power to keep his “shine” in check, but he finds a pragmatic use for his gift working with terminal patients, with the help of an inscrutable cat who can sniff out which patient is going to die next.

Eventually he comes into contact with a young girl named Abra, who lives in another part of New Jersey, but who can “shine” like he can.  And then there’s this nomadic group of people, calling themselves The True Knot, who are apparently hunting down other people with the “shine” for their own nefarious purposes.

It all wraps and weaves into a thrilling tale that skillfully retains the feel of Kubrick’s film.  Doctor Sleep works on its own merits, but the more you know about The Shining, the more thoroughly you’ll enjoy this new film.  Sharp-eyed cinephiles will be amazed at how many times, and in how many different ways, Kubrick’s style is echoed and referenced in this sequel.  These include liberal use of fade transitions, lots of static shots, Steadicam shots, use of natural lighting, those shots with the axe (!), even the aspect ratio that the film was shot in.  I got a giddy little swoop every time I saw how carefully the director, Mike Flanagan, was working the master’s craft into his film.  It was like watching a very subtle Kubrickian version of Ready Player One.  And it never comes off as plagiarism…it’s definitely homage, not theft.

Another aspect I really enjoyed was how the movie doesn’t rush through anything.  It’s two-and-a-half hours long, longer than average these days, which is yet another echo of The Shining.  When it works, that kind of pacing and running time gives the viewer the luxury of settling into the rhythm of the characters, makes them feel more like real people instead of cardboard cutouts hurrying from one milestone to the next.  For example, there’s a scene where one character performs a kind of astral projection to find someone.  There is a rather long series of shots showing her traveling through space that I can easily imagine would have been truncated in a lesser film.  Doctor Sleep, instead, gives us a good long look at her journey, to really feel the distance involved.  It’s quite a beautiful sequence, in fact.

This was a much better movie than I anticipated, which is good, because I never believed it was necessary.  It’s a relief to see that the continuation of Danny Torrance’s story has been handled in such a respectful manner, both towards the first film nearly 40 years ago and towards the viewers and fans.  It’s not perfect (I could pick nits about one particular aspect of the finale if I wanted to), but it’s a worthy successor to Kubrick’s masterpiece.  This belongs on the list of the best Stephen King adaptations along with It (2017), The Green Mile, and The Shawshank Redemption.

P.S. The blu-ray edition of Doctor Sleep contains a director’s cut that extends the running time by thirty minutes, adds more details about Abra’s powers, among other things, and inserts “chapter breaks” that almost make it feel like a miniseries.


By Marc S. Sanders

Margot Robbie is a champion actress. Just look at Bombshell (I thought she was more memorable than Oscar winner Laura Dern.). Look at I, Tonya. (I thought she should have won the Oscar that year.) Harley Quinn? She’s perfect in the role as a ditzed out, mallet carrying party gal villain turned anti hero from the Batman universe. Only problem is that as good as she is in the role, I can’t stand Harley Quinn. This is a child who just won’t sit still.

Robbie takes on her second turn in the role following the abysmal Suicide Squad. This time she produces Birds Of Prey (and The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). It’s an improvement from Squad but it still seems to be all over the place. It happily acknowledges that it time jumps and corrects itself. It is happy to drop F bombs because the producers wanted a R rated female driven equivalent to Deadpool. (It never had to be Deadpool.) It even goes in rewind mode (you know, with the cassette tape sound) because the viewer or the fans of Harley need to experience the lunacy of Harley. She talks looney so we need to feel looney while she voiceovers the story that’s going on here.

The Gotham gangster Black Mask (Ewan McGregor – the next candidate in line trying to replicate Jack Nicholson’s Joker, just like Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones and Arnold Schwarzenegger and on and on), wants to find a diamond that was swallowed by a kid named Cassandra Cain. Harley recruits herself to protect Cassandra, while waiting for her to shit it out. Hilarious material here. Side stuff tells us that Harley has split from the Joker.

The problem with Birds of Prey is that it does the work for the audience. I was constantly reminded that Harley is cuckoo, that I didn’t get the chance to discover it for myself. Robbie’s delivery is perfectly on point. The issue is the writing by screenwriter Christina Hodson is hackneyed. The character’s antics are too in your face. Look at Heath Ledger. The Nolans only revealed so much about the Joker. When their film ended, I wanted to learn more. Where did that guy actually stem from? He was a Joker like no other before him. The character wasn’t shoved in my face like Harley is. I had to think about him during and after the film.

The supporting cast is nothing of interest either. Rosie Perez, a great actress, plays third or fourth fiddle here as a Gotham cop who doesn’t get the credit she deserves from a department of mostly men. Mary Elizabeth Winstead just carries a crossbow that people mistake for a bow and arrow, and she gets frustrated with that. Yeah that’s ironic, I’m sure.

Still, despite the title, Harley is the main protagonist. Warner/DC got the right actor for the part. So why couldn’t they write her with more depth than this? The film starts out fun with a silly Looney Tunes animated update but then it gets all scattered with Harley breaking a thug’s legs and blowing up a chemical factory. She also shoves cheese whiz in her mouth. You go, girl!!!

Think about it. Harley used to be a renowned psychiatrist who is dropped in a vat of acid and abused terribly by Joker, only to break free of him and find her own way. This film really only TELLS us this. A better film would have SHOWN that to me. A better film would have made this the story from beginning to end. I’d love to have seen Harley before she went nuts.

You know what? I might’ve then become Harley Quinn’s biggest fan.