Wonder Woman (2017) Review

The time has come for the premiere woman superhero to finally get a feature film after 75 years. Sure there has been a TV show in the 70’s but after that, it has been little to nothing. There have been numerous attempts at feature films and live action shows that have never materialized. There was a fairly popular animated movie in 2009. But now that the DC Extended Universe is off and running and making a small appearance in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman’s chance has finally come. How does it succeed?

Arguably this is the best movie in the DCEU canon and one of the best superhero movies in years. Origin movies are usually the best way to go especially with heroes whose origins aren’t commonly known. So this was the route chosen for Wonder Woman as well as setting the bulk of the movie in the past during World War I. Wonder Woman is usually tied to World War II but since Captain America: The First Avenger handled that war, you can see why they shifted it. After spy Steve Trevor crashes on Themyscira, Diana (Wonder Woman) agrees to take him back to mainland Earth where he has information on a new weapon to help end the war of wars. People tend to forget how brutal World War I was and this change does not diminish Wonder Woman’s plight against the God of War, Ares.

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Gal Gadot as Diana/Wonder Woman is serviceable as the titular hero. She is not necessarily great in the role. No fault to her as her acting resume is thin with a lot of roles that asked nothing of her. But when she does shine, she does. I can see her growing into the role and becoming a better actor in the process. Chris Pine steals the show for me in the movie. I’ve always been so so on him as an actor until fairly recently. In this movie, he plays a spy who has become world weary due to the war happening. While he is jaded, he always shows that he believes in the good of people. This is a good contrast to Diana’s more naive black and white view of the world. When these two interact, their chemistry is great and help sell the movie. The Amazons played by Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta, Diana’s mother and Robin Wright as General Antiope, Diana’s aunt are strong presences in the movies despite limited screentime. Diana and Steve’s compatriots played by Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner and Eugene Brave Rock are solid and help flesh out the war side and also help flesh out the world for Diana. Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, David Thewlis and Lucy Davis are the rest of the supporting cast are solid and help flesh out the movie.

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Patty Jenkins deserves all the credit in the world for this movie. The tone for the movie was perfect. There wasn’t humor just thrown in for the sake of humor. A lot of humor comes from Diana being a fish out of water. The contrast between Themyscira and the actual world is such a beautiful contrast. When Diana enters the modern (circa 1918) and sees London, you can just feel the pollution on the screen. When the war scenes happen, even though it is not an R rated film, you feel the effects of this horrific war. There are no hidden shots of missing limbs or anything like that, you see them. I think it was a tricky balance to not be too heavy but also show the effects of the war and what it is doing to the world. So when Diana finally does step in and become a beacon of hope, you really feel it.

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The action in this movie is top notch as well. Since Diana comes from a warrior group of people, they are much more melee based combat. This reflects in her combat style as she frequently goes for the legs. The opening action scene between the Amazons and German soldiers is unique to see this group of trained warriors go up against modern weapons that they know nothing about, which helps makes things even. Whenever Diana steps into battle, it is memorable since she is no normal person and can do things like no other. A unique battle shows that even though she is all powerful, she can not do everything and it is juxtaposed with her teaming with soldiers and their weapons to help turn the tides of battle.

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This is also a gorgeous movie. As mentioned earlier the contrast the modern world and Themyscira is palpable. Themyscira is a gorgeous place (probably why it’s nickname is Paradise Island) and the hues of greens and blues make you just want to visit the place. Then when entering the modern world and seeing the effects of war and everything is black and gray helping to sell that the world is really at war. Seeing the world in 1918 is also pretty much being like in a different world. Seeing London in this era and war torn Europe is nothing like the world today. The fashion, the vehicles, the lingo, everything about it.

Is it a perfect movie? No. The third act is a little long winded. The whole thing with Ares is a bit on the thin side. He’s a serviceable villain but not much to him. But it is nice to see a movie about a superhero who actually wants to be a hero. Everyone involved in the movie should be proud of themselves for creating one of the best superhero movies in recent years.

 

SCORE: 9/10

 

Top 10 Best Movies of 2016

10. La La Land – not what I was expecting 

9. Fences – a film carried by strong performances with two powerhouse actors in the lead 

8. The Nice Guys – a welcome throwback

7. Rogue One – putting the war in Star Wars

6. Hell or High Water – an exploration of the middle America

5. 13th – an exploration of how far America has come and how far it hasn’t 

4. Captain America: Civil War – it’s either Captain America 3 or Iron Man 4 or Avengers 2.5 but what a great film

3. Zootopia – an animated film with some deep pathos

2. Arrival – the alien invasion movie much more than about an invasion

1. Moonlight – the exploration about the black man in America

‘Wonder Woman’ Trailer Reaction

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The first trailer for Wonder Woman dropped during San Diego Comic Con 2016 and it was amazing. This has been a movie that I have been looking forward to since this whole DC Extended Universe has gotten off of the ground. There is no skirting around the issue but the superhero genre of film has been devoid of diversity. It has been typically about white males and the few female superheroes are usually part of ensemble movies. Wonder Woman is the first in a wave of change and it looks to be off to a great start.

I am not the biggest Wonder Woman fan myself. She is probably my fourth favorite female superhero. Even though I am not a big fan of the character, I can say that I am familiar with her various origins. The most common one is pilot Steve Trevor washes ashore Themiscayra aka Paradise Island aka the home of the Amazons. Diana aka Wonder Woman is the one to find her and this pairing is what brings her into “man’s world”. This movie is a period piece and takes place during World War I.

A unique setting as World War I isn’t really covered that much in popular compared to World War II. Anyone familiar with history can tell you that the first World War is when war took on a whole new dangerous and nastier face. During her appearance in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman hinted that something happened 100 years ago that turned her off from man’s world. So what happened during the events of this movie that left her to become the somewhat jaded and cynical person we meet in Batman v. Superman?

Chris Pine as Steve Trevor is also unique as since this is a female lead superhero movie, he essentially plays the role that women have played in superhero movies. I won’t necessarily say him doing this is “brave” but it is one you wouldn’t expect a Hollywood leading man to make. But times are changing and so are the roles. So it is appreciated and nice to see that he did this. Since he is such a name actor, it makes me wonder if he will survive this movie or he might have an identical grandson type of situation.

Patty Jenkins, is the director on this film. Her last major film was the critically acclaimed film Monster in 2003. She was in fact supposed to direct Thor: The Dark World but left due to creative differences. Jenkins has a unique situation as she is directing the highest grossing film to be directed by a woman and also the first major female superhero film in decades. I have full confidence that she has risen to the challenge of this film. The action scenes look great, there looks to be a good balance between humor and serious, and there is definite chemistry between the two leads in Gal Gadot and Chris Pine.
Wonder Woman comes out on June 2, 2017. This is a very important film. It looks to set the tone for the future of the superhero genre as it is shaking things up in a good way. This trailer was only the first step. Wonder Woman has always been a household name but you’d be pressed to find anyone who knows anything substantial about the character. Things will definitely change come 2017.

‘Star Trek Beyond’ Review

“As someone who passively likes Star Trek, this is my favorite Star Trek film”


Star Trek Beyond is the third entry in the reboot of the Star Trek franchise. It is also the thirteenth in the film series overall. This film is special because it comes out during the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. So how was the film? One of my favorite of the summer. I am not the biggest Star Trek fan. I enjoy the franchise as a whole but I can never say that it has been my favorite. It’s always been there and I would watch the movies and catch episodes of the various shows here and there.


This film picks up about three years into the five years mission of the Starship Enterprise. The crew has all gotten acclimated with one another. This must be true of the cast as they all seem to gel very well with one another. Problems start to arise when Kirk is questioning his existence as he is now older than his father when he died. Wondering if he is fit to lead the crew and if his entire being there is just a sham. Wanting something new in his life and away from the Enterprise.


Things get interesting when they encounter Krall. Krall is out to destroy Starfleet and his first target is the crew of the Enterprise. This leads them stranded on an alien planet where they are forced to ally with Jaylah. This is where the film got interesting for me as the previous two movies were mainly focused on Kirk and Spock. While they are still the lynchpins, this movie is much more of an ensemble film. The members are splintered off and are taken into different group dynamics.

The other members of the Enterprise get a chance to shine. Uhura, Chekov, Sulu and Scotty all get moments and show why they are important. The one standout is Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy. There have always been hints here and there in the past two movies but he really stands out. Another scene stealer is Sofia Boutella as Jaylah. She is also a scene stealer as she brings a fun and unique energy to the cast. Though Starfleet is composed of many alien races, there are few actually on the Enterprise. Not to give too much away, it will be interesting to see where she goes if this series continues.

Idris Elba is the big bad of the movie, Krall. He is pretty unrecognizable in the role. The only way to recognize him is if they did something more with his voice. Out of the villains in the reboot franchise, he is probably the best. That is something of damned praise as the previous two were not that memorable. It is a simple revenge plot but there is a certain twist with the character that was unexpected. Elba can read the phonebook and make it interesting so he does help elevate this villain because it could have been pretty generic if played by a lesser actor.

As said earlier, Star Trek is not one of my favorite franchises out there. I greatly respect it though. Justin Lin, who revitalized The Fast and The Furious franchise, has revitalized this franchise here. Many expected that he would go more bombastic when taking over. In fact he did the opposite. This is much more a character piece with crazy set pieces. Credit goes to writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung as they find a nice balance to pay homage to what Star Trek is about while appealing to a more casual movie going audience.

SCORE: 8.5/10